For an ingredient that's centuries old, tea sure is having a moment. Myriad varietals have taken a starring role recently in everything from anti-pollution moisturizers to sleep aids. While not a new ingredient per se, recent discoveries in its beautifying powers have led to a deluge of products and a renewed interest in the power plant.
“Many teas are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used both internally or topically to reap this benefit,” explains Dr. Frank Lipman, founder of BeWell and the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC. “Tea gets its health-enhancing power from flavonoids, the natural chemical compounds that help neutralize free-radicals, limiting their ability to inflame and damage the body.”
Those free radical-fighting powers are also what help it protect the skin from damage. Desiree Pais, beauty content editor for Herbivore Botanicals, notes that: “Different teas have different benefits, but they [all] have incredible antioxidant properties.”
Not to mention that, combined with the right botanicals, tea-based products can do some pretty incredible things for your skin. With that in mind, I found the most potent of the crop and picked our favorite topical and ingestible buys.
Keep reading to find your best brew.
“Green tea has been known for many years [to aid] longevity and for anti-aging,” says Pais. “Free radicals age the body; green tea’s antioxidants helps the body stay younger.” It also has some pretty promising medicinal applications. “Green tea contains EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which researchers believe gives it much of its anti-cancer properties,” says Dr. Lipman.
You'll love this collection from Kusmi because it let’s you explore the versatility of all things green with an assortment of blends that include strawberry, rose, and spearmint.
Find your balance with this liquid wonder. It adds jasmine—a known hydrating flower—alongside white willow bark, witch hazel, and aloe vera for a soothing, oil-reducing spritz of freshness. Pais recommends spraying a few pumps on damp skin and then using your fingers to press the toner into your face for better absorption. You can also apply it to a cotton ball and use it as a water-free cleanser to get rid of dirt and oil.
A finely ground green tea, Dr. Lipman describes matcha as an energy enhancer, mood improver, and metabolism booster. “While caffeinated, it still has a calming effect due to the high dose of a naturally occurring amino acid called L-Theanine,” he notes.
CAP’s genius mini-matcha packets are filled with enough organic matcha to brew one perfect cup of green deliciousness. Convenient and compact, they’re perfect for on-the-go (or at your desk).
Premium matcha blended with spirulina, honey, and aloe gives this powder-to-foam cleansing treatment its skin-clearing, redness-erasing, youth-preserving powers. “The ceremony-grade matcha [in our Green Ceremony Cleanser] has the highest concentration of chlorophyll and antioxidants," says Valerie Grandury, founder of Odacité. "Chlorophyll is a potent detoxifier to the skin, and antioxidants stop free radical damage, which are responsible for aging.” Its detoxifying properties also make it a primo product for those battling acne.
If you’ve had a stressful day or are feeling high-strung, Dr. Lipman says there is no beating this caffeine-free tea to get in the chill zone. “[It’s] perfect for calming the nervous system and supporting restful sleep. It also has soothing digestive properties, making it a perfect pre-bed ritual,” he says.
On its own, chamomile is great, but pop in some spearmint and rose petals and you have a delicious tasting—and smelling!—tea that will let you mellow out and get ready for a good night’s rest.
Never underestimate the relaxing capabilities of a good soak, especially when it’s chock-full of chamomile flowers, lavender, and rose petals. In addition to calming buds, these woo-woo bath salts also contain ground up amethyst crystals to help create a sensation of “inner calm and peace.” Hey, as long as it helps us unwind, you can fill up the tub with whatever crystals, geodes, or rocks you want in there.
The most caffeinated of the bunch, black tea not only perks you up, it also perks up your skin with de-puffing caffeine and antioxidant protection.
If you want to pull a Lionel Richie-esque fiesta, forever, then you’re going to need something to keep you motivated. This catchily named (you know you’ve got the song stuck in your head now) loose-leaf tea is wild-harvested from 700-year-old tea trees in Vietnam. They might be ancient but they sure pack an energizing punch. Thankfully, it’s a jitter-free one.
Remember those high-caffeine levels we talked about before? Well, that’s what makes black tea such a boss for fighting puffiness and dark circles—it constricts blood vessels, which increases circulation and removes the excess fluids that cause swelling. The fermented version (AKA kombucha) in this anti-aging eye cream also helps firm, brighten, and minimize fine lines. Buh-bye, tired eyes.
Another impressive internal healer, Dr. Lipman notes that research has shown this “minimally-processed, pale golden tea offers up cancer-disrupting properties along with a light dose of caffeine.”
This Australian tea is just as advertised—anti-aging in a cup. It has triple the antioxidants thanks to white tea, hibiscus, and a trio of berries; enzyme-rich papaya, to aid in digestion; hydrating rosehip, and pineapple’s pH-balancing alpha-hydroxy acids. Everything you need to keep skin plump, moisturized, and radiant.
The silver tip white tea in this shea butter-based body cream guards skin against “youth offenders” that seek to attack your skin’s natural firmess. Mimosa tones and the aforementioned shea makes sure you are hydrated from ears to toes. Sagging skin? Not in this house.
While this homely plant might not be your first choice (or even on your tea radar, for that matter), Dr. Lipman swears it's one of the most beneficial of the bunch. “It supports such a wide variety of ailments that it can often be used to support general good health,” he says. He points to benefits like allergy relief, balancing blood sugar, enhancing detoxification, and supporting healthy bones and hair as just a few examples of its many good-for-you applications.
It might look delicate, but this blend of vitamins, essential minerals, and medicinal herbs is not just for show. Nettle, lemongrass, rose, and tulsi (a type of basil from India) create an alkalizing effect on the body and give you an overall feeling of great health. And who couldn’t use a little bit of that?
If you prefer your nettle on the minimally processed side, Farmaesthetics makes this multi-use oil by infusing organic nettle plants into sweet almond oil and adding a touch of vitamin E. Those three ingredients can do everything from healing eczema and cradle cap to preventing thinning hair and easing achy joints.
Speaking of matcha, there are so many other awesome beauty products tapping it's powers and here are seven ways to get your matcha fix on the fly.
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