There’s nothing more satisfying than finding something completely awesome for your skin that costs next to nothing. It’s even better when you know that incredibly gorgeous celebs like Jessica Alba, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez (and the A-list list goes on!) credit their stunning figures and glowing skin to the same thing. Jessica Alba uses it in a smoothie to boost energy levels, Jennifer Aniston relies on it to keep fit and trim, and Lady Gaga swears by it for reducing her stress levels – we all know what stress does to our skin! The genius ingredient is green tea; its impressive qualities include the power to lower your sebum levels and fight against acne, reduce sun damage, flatten puffy eyes, and even diminish wrinkles. It’s literally the answer to all our prayers – for our skin and our bodies!
The magical ingredient comes from the Camellia sinensis leaves that originate in China. Green tea leaves have extremely high-levels of polyphenols, aka micronutrients that come from plants, which are packed with antioxidants that protect against skin-damaging free-radicals, infections, toxins, and even some cancers. Not only is green tea super inexpensive, but you can use it topically and internally for MAJOR health benefits – even lowering bad cholesterol and detoxing your body. Put the kettle on now; we guarantee you’ll be wanting a brew…
The difference between green tea and matcha green tea: Green tea is referred to as your standard tea bag filled with dry leaves, and it needs to be brewed for a couple of minutes to release the goodness. Once brewed you can discard the leaves and drink the tea, or you can use the brewed leaves to make a mask. Matcha is green tea leaves that have been dried and finely ground, which you ingest completely, making matcha a much more intense dose of goodness. Matcha contains 137 times more EGCGs (powerful antioxidants, up to 50 times stronger than vitamin C and E) than green tea does, so you would need to drink around 10 cups of green tea to get the same benefits that you would from one cup of matcha green tea. Look out for organic matcha tea like this one.
Find Your Zen: Believe it or not, having a green tea brew will actually chill you out. The tea lowers cortisol levels (stress hormones) and contains an amino acid called L-Theanine that gives a calming effect and helps your brain to focus.
Fight against wrinkles: Free-radicals attack our skin and breakdown skin cells to deplete skin’s elasticity, causing sagging and wrinkles – they’re our ultimate nemesis! Fortunately, the high-levels of antioxidants (the best kind: catechins and polyphenols) in green tea help our skin cells to fight against the damage done by free radicals. They can both slow down the signs of aging and contribute to reverse skin damage.
Combat acne: Drinking green tea works in numerous ways to combat acne: your skin produces less sebum, your inflammation levels are reduced (that’s what causes pimples to get all red and angry), and your immune system is bolstered. The aforementioned EGCG is also a potent regulator of your hormones, in particular, male hormones, which cause your glands to produce excess sebum. Combined with its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, it makes a fierce face mask. Combine a tablespoon of matcha tea with a tablespoon of honey, or matcha tea with yogurt to balance and soothe your skin.
Reduce sun damage: Green tea can’t block UV rays like sunscreen can, but instead, it fights damaging free-radicals and reduces inflammation that the sun causes – it can even destroy cancerous skin-cells. To get the full benefits you can drink green tea and use it as a toner in the morning: dip a cotton pad in a cup of cooled green tea and wipe it across your face.
Boost energy levels and shed pounds: There’s a reason green tea is favored in Hollywood and among models, it’s been clinically proven to boost your metabolism and increase your bodies ability to burn fat. It’s caffeine content – about a quarter the amount of coffee’s – increases your energy and concentration levels, which can improve physical performance and mobilize fatty acids to be used for energy. A matcha smoothie makes the perfect pre-workout or morning wake-up replacement for your cup of coffee. Make a smoothie with one banana, one spoon of matcha green tea powder, ice, almond milk or coconut water (enough to cover all your ingredients in a blender), one tablespoon of almond or peanut butter, and a sprinkling of granola, you can even add a date or honey as a natural sweetener.
Deflate puffy eyes: Green tea bags make the perfect under eye treatment: the caffeine shrinks blood vessels, while the tannins constrict capillaries. Brew two tea bags for a couple of minutes, remove and place in the fridge until chilled (around 30 minutes – they should be cold but not dry) place the tea bags under your eyes and chill out for half an hour.
Even just drinking a green tea every day will do your body good, and it’s another alternative to help you reach your daily water target. It’s insanely good when you use it topically too, so play around with different recipes and find what works for you. There’s also an insane amount of products starring green tea, in case DIY isn’t your thing, check them out at Sephora here.