“Tea is a superstar in the natural skin-care world,” says Theresa Krier, founder of Big T NYC, a brand that makes curated and bespoke teas and tisanes. “It’s packed with a host of vitamins, amino acids, and catechins that work holistically to slow aging, stimulate collagen production and maintain healthy skin cells. Tea also combats dehydration, a major culprit of dull skin.”
Supplementing the ingredients you’re applying every morning and evening with some ingestible goodness—in this case, with the right kinds of tea— can work wonders for your overall skin function. “Anything that you consume eventually realizes itself to your largest organ: your skin,” says Heidi Brown, an esthetician and the woman behind Brilliance By Brown, a beauty platform meant to help educate women on how to care for their skin as they age. “It’s all about skin function, and ensuring that our skin operates in an optimal way. While topical skin-care is great, the importance of your gut health and what you ingest compliments whatever you’re applying.”
Enter: antioxidants, something that many teas are inherently rich with. “Tea has EGCG, which is a type of antioxidant that is really well-known for boosting metabolism, but also is great for fighting free radicals that cause skin damage and premature aging,” says Krier. And when it comes to skin health, antioxidants are critical. Free radicals—which are introduced into your body by environmental stressors, like UV rays and pollution—cause something called “oxidative stress” in your body, which shows up on your complexion in the form of wrinkles, discoloration, and dullness. Antioxidants work to gobble up these free radicals before they can do any real damage.
“Because of how they’re processed, certain teas are filled with flowers and plants that have incredible antioxidants in them, which help to fight off free radicals also are filled with the derivation of how they are processed they’re filled with flowers and plants that have incredible antioxidants in them that help to fight the free radicals in our bodies, which also helps out skin,” says Brown.
Think of it as a super easy (and delish) way to drink your skin-loving nutrients while getting a hydration boost. “We like to think of it as water plus,” says Krier. “It’s just as good as drinking a cup of water in terms of hydration, but you’re getting the added benefit of all sorts of antioxidants and the great flavors that come along with it.”
6 best tea for skin choices, straight from an esthetician
For anti-aging: rooibos
Move over, retinol—rooibos is actually a major player in anti-aging. “Its high levels of antioxidants, zinc, and alpha-hydroxy acids give it the ability to prevent and reverse fat loss under the skin,” says Krier, which she notes was just confirmed in a new study. The antioxidant arsenal includes nothofagin, aspalathin, and superoxide dismutase, which are all enzymes that provide an effective protection against harmful free radicals (AKA culprits in complexion woes).
“Rooibos tea’s also rich in zinc, which can help correct hormonal imbalances that trigger acne,” says Krier. That’s major.
For rejuvenation: white tea
White tea is essentially the most pure of all teas. “In general, white tea is considered more rare than other teas because you’re taking the youngest leaves off of the plant,” says Krier. “Because of this purity, it contains the highest level of antioxidants of all teas.”
It also has strong skin rejuvenating powers. “White tea can help to slow the skin-aging process and prevent collagen and elastin breakdown,” she adds.
For reducing inflammation: green tea
Though green tea is from the same plant as white, it has nuanced differences that affect your glow in other ways. “Green tea reduces inflammation, maintains healthy skin cells, and can help internally protect against sun damage caused by UV radiation,” says Krier. That’s because of its high presence of ECGC, a super-potent antioxidant that is known to reactivate dying skin cells, she adds.
For hormonal acne: spearmint
If you tend to get hormonal acne, reach for the minty tea. “Spearmint has an anti-androgenic effect that can help improve hormonal imbalances and prevent the production of excess sebum on the skin,” says Krier. “It also contains both phenolic acids and flavonoids, two forms of antioxidants that help prevent oxidative damage.” It protects your skin from free radicals, which lead to acne and a slew of other issues. According to Brown, “it’s really great for oily skin because it can help slow down oil production as well as support cellular turnover,” which means it will help your healthy skin cells move to the surface, leading to a clearer overall complexion.
For eczema: chamomile
When you think of chamomile tea, you probably think of warming up to a mug right before sleep. “That’s because chamomile has antispasmodic, anxiolytic, antibacterial, and anti-mutagenic effects,” says Krier. “The active ingredients include anti-inflammatory flavonoids and coumarin, which help prevent and reduce inflammatory acne lesions.” Brown adds that this type of tea can help with all sorts of inflammation-related skin concerns, including breakouts and eczema. Plus, it’s a stress-reliever (thanks to its anxiolytic and antioxidant effects), which aids with stress acne. “Chamomile is ideal for inducing feelings of calm and rest, which are critical for allowing the skin to naturally heal,” says Krier. In other words, it can calm your skin in the same way that it calms your mind.
For a natural glow: hibiscus
The beautiful red floral tea is rich in vitamins, which can aid in achieving that sought-after glow. “Hibiscus is very high in vitamin C, and is a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, zinc, and iron,” says Krier. “And it has natural alpha hydroxy acids and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails.” Tea time, anyone?
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