Green Tea For Acne – The Tips and Tricks You NEED to Know

Using green tea for acne is becoming increasingly popular. So, is the hype real? Or is green tea just another fraud in an endless line of “natural acne cures”?

Perhaps this ancient Chinese proverb says it best:

A Chinese saying. "Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one."

The recent research into green tea and acne would seem to agree…

6 Ways Green Tea Helps Get Rid of Acne

Here are 6 of the most compelling, science-based reasons to try green tea for your acne:

  1. Reduced Sebum Production – Studies have shown that green tea can reduce sebum (skin oil) production by up to 70%. That’s a massive reduction in skin oil, which can really help decrease pimple formation.
  2. Less Androgen Sensitivity – Topical green tea has been shown to decrease the skin’s natural sensitivity to the male sex hormone androgen.
  3. Decreased Inflammation – Studies have shown that green tea cream can reduce inflammation from sunlight and other sources of irritation. More importantly, green tea cream has been shown to decrease the body’s natural inflammatory reaction to P. acnes bacteria. This is especially useful for acne sufferers because their bodies tend to overreact when exposed to acne bacteria, resulting in excessive inflammation and redness.
  4. Powerful Antioxidants – Green tea is full of powerful antioxidants called catechins. These catechins are more powerful than vitamin C and E when it comes to fighting free radicals that can damage our cells. The most important catechin in green tea is called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). It’s 25-100 times more potent than vitamins E and C. These catechins are also antifungal and very good at fighting bacteria and viruses.
  5. Fast Acting – Not only did topical green tea cream prove to be as effective as benzoyl peroxide cream and topical antibiotics like erythromycin, it worked faster than erythromycin. Green tea lotion was able to get results in only 8 weeks. Topical erythromycin required 12 weeks to see similar results!
  6. Much Less Acne – One study found that after 8 weeks of treatment, green tea was able to reduce acne occurrence by 50% (That’s as good as benzoyl peroxide or antibiotic creams!)

Scientific Studies on Green Tea and Acne

Several studies have shown the effectiveness of green tea as a treatment for acne. This first study found that topical use of a simple cream containing 3% green tea extract was able to reduce skin oil production by almost 60%.

A chart showing how green tea reduces sebum production in acne patients.

Three other studies (study 1, study 2, study 3) found that 2% green tea lotion significantly improved acne. The studies lasted between 6 and 8 weeks and resulted in an impressive 50% or greater reduction in acne occurrence.

A chart showing reduction of pimples after using green tea lotion.

One of the studies measured acne severity, observing that green tea cream decreased lesion severity by almost 40%.

One of the researchers noted that using green tea for acne is as effective as topical antibiotics or benzoyl peroxide cream. That’s incredible! Green tea is as effective as two of the most commonly recommended treatments by dermatologists.

A before and after image of a 17-year-old male who has received green tea lotion to treat acne.

Using Fresh Green Tea for Acne – 5 Rules to Follow

Do you like making your own green tea face masks, toners, or other DIY concoction?

Then here are three things you should keep in mind anytime you use fresh green tea.

  1. You Must Brew the Tea – Brewing the tea in hot water is what draws the catechins out of the tea leaves. For example, don’t just mix tea leaves with honey and slather it on your face. Brew the tea leaves first. Then, mix it with the honey and apply it to your face.
  2. Brew Your Tea LongerThis study shows that you should brew your tea for at least 5 minutes to get the highest possible levels of EGCG.A chart showing how green tea has more EGCG if brewed longer.
  3. Brew Your Tea HotterAnother study shows the importance of brewing your tea at a very high temperature. Brewing at a higher temperature will extract more catechins. Try to brew your tea at 100 ºC (212 ºF) for maximum effect (the boiling point of water is 100 ºC).A chart showing how well green tea catechins are extracted from tea leaves when brewed at different temperatures.
  4. Use STRONG Tea – The concentration of EGCG and other beneficial ingredients in fresh green tea is much lower than in a typical green tea cream. When brewing your tea, use as little water as possible to get a higher concentration of EGCG.
  5. Green Tea Doesn’t Keep – The beneficial ingredients in green tea don’t last very long. As soon as you brew the tea, they begin to break down, and after about 1 day most of the catechins and other goodness is gone. You can extend the tea’s useful life span to two days by adding some vitamin C to the mixture. This study shows how quickly green tea catechins break down in solutions of varying pH.A chart showing how green tea catechins don't remain stable very long.

The Best Green Tea Topical Treatments

There are tons of ways to use green tea topically to treat your acne, and most of them have a lot of potential!

You can buy any number of green tea creams, moisturizers, face washes, etc. If you like the natural DIY approach, you can try making a green tea mask or toner using your favorite ingredients.

Here are some of my favorite topical green tea remedies for acne.

How to Make the Perfect Green Tea Face Mask

Making a powerful, acne-eliminating green tea mask is easy. You just need to do a couple of things:

  1. Follow all 5 of the rules we talked about earlier.
  2. Use a high-quality green tea product that has high levels of EGCG and other catechins.

Follow these two simple rules, and your green tea face mask will be a huge success!

A green tea face mask on a woman to treat acne.

1. Matcha Green Tea Face Mask

This is my personal favorite green tea mask because it is super simple. Matcha green tea is a powdered form of green tea, so you don’t have to worry about straining out the tea leaves. Also it has a nice creamy feel.

A meme of an alligator treating his acne with a matcha green tea mask.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Matcha Green Tea Powder
  • ½ tablespoon Water

Directions:

  1. Boil a cup of water in the microwave.
  2. Mix ½ tablespoon of hot water with 1 tablespoon of matcha.
  3. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
  4. Apply it to a freshly cleansed face.
  5. Leave it for 20 minutes or so, and then wash it off.

2. Honey Green Tea Face Mask

This is another great acne-fighting face mask. As I discussed in this article, honey is great at killing acne bacteria because of it’s osmotic properties. Add it to your green tea mask to give it a little extra acne-blasting goodness.

Woman Honey Face Mask Spa

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons Green Tea Leaves (Loose leaves or in a tea bag)
  • 2 teaspoons Honey

Directions:

  1. Boil about ½ cup of water in the microwave.
  2. Dump out some water so you have just enough water to submerge the tea leaves, plus a little extra (Too much water will make your mask runny).
  3. Mix the tea leaves into the hot water.
  4. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the honey to the mix.
  6. Apply the mixture to a freshly cleansed face.
  7. Leave it for 20 minutes or so, and then wash it off.

3. Lemon Juice Green Tea Face Mask

The main reason I like using lemon juice in a green tea mask is because the vitamin C helps prevent the EGCG and other catechins from breaking down.

That way, you can make enough for a few applications and not have to worry about it losing all of its effectiveness. Although do be careful, using too much lemon juice can irritate your skin.

Half of a lemon freshly cut and dripping juice. Use lemon juice for acne.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons Green Tea Leaves (Loose leaves or in a tea bag)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice (Less if it irritates your skin)

Directions:

  1. Boil about ½ cup of water in the microwave.
  2. Dump out some water so you have just enough water to submerge the tea leaves, plus a little extra (Too much water will make your mask runny).
  3. Mix the tea leaves into the hot water.
  4. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the lemon juice.
  6. Apply the mixture to a freshly cleansed face.
  7. Leave it for 20 minutes or so, and then wash it off.

Other Face Mask Ingredients

Is your “acne-destroying” face mask not quite what you hoped for? Maybe it’s a little too runny? Too thick? Does it smell funny?

Whatever the problem is, if your green tea acne mask needs a little something extra, you can always try changing things up a bit.

Here are some popular face mask ingredients that you can choose from. Experiment to your hearts content!

  • Aloe Vera
  • Apple
  • Apricots
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrot
  • Cream cheese
  • Cucumber
  • Egg white
  • Egg yolk
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Heavy Cream
  • Lemon (juice)
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Orange (juice)
  • Parsley
  • Papaya
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Yogurt

Green Tea Bags as an Acne Spot Treatment

This is one of the absolute easiest ways to take advantage of that green-tea-goodness for clearing up your acne.

Whenever you make a cup of tea, simply save the tea bag (or bags) and place it on a part of your face that has an acne flare-up.

Let it sit there, warming and opening your pores and soaking into your skin while you enjoy your cup of tea.

Rinse your face off when you’re done. Easy!

Two used bags of green tea to treat acne with.

Fresh-Made Green Tea Toner for Acne

Using green tea toner is another easy thing that can help get rid of acne. Simply brew some green tea and store it in a bottle or glass jar. I also like to use a squirt bottle because it’s easier.

Add some vitamin C powder or lemon juice to make the toner stay fresh longer (Even doing this will only make it last for a few days).

After using your daily cleanser, use a cotton pad or spray bottle to apply the toner to your face.

A glass of homemade green tea toner for acne treatment.

What is The Best Brand/Type of Green Tea for Acne?

Here are a few rules to help you find the best varieties and brands of green tea for treating acne.

  • Don’t Use Decaf – Decaffeinated green tea only has about 1/3rd as many catechins as regular tea.
  • Use Japanese Green Tea – Japanese varieties of green tea tend to have more EGCG than other varieties. Sencha and Gyokura green teas are two of the most popular. I like using Matcha green tea because its easier.A chart comparing EGCG content of various Japanese and Chinese green teas.

Using Green Tea Supplements/Extracts for Acne

The main way green tea supplements help treat acne is by reducing inflammation throughout the whole body.

Studies have shown that taking green tea orally does, in fact, help to reduce inflammation in the skin.

A bottle of Zhou green tea extract supplements.

Drinking Green Tea for Acne

Drinking green tea helps cane in the same way that supplements help. It reduces systemic inflammation throughout the body.

To get the most benefit out of your cup of green tea, be sure to follow the rules mentioned earlier.

Unfortunately, brewing your tea at 100 ºC (to get the most catechins out of the tea leaves) may result in a tea that tastes more bitter than you would like. It’s up to you to decide whether or not the extra catechins are worth it.

Kermit the frog drinking green tea.

Make Your Cup of Green Tea 9x More Effective!

One major problem with drinking green tea is that up to 80% of the all-important catechins are destroyed during digestion.

A chart showing how many green tea catechins are destroyed during digestion.

Luckily, there are two simple tricks to drastically improve the amount of catechins your body absorbs!

  1. Drink Your Tea With a Little Vitamin C and SugarAccording to this study, you can triple the absorption of EGCG by adding sugar and vitamin C to your green tea. You can try to replicate these results by adding 1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar to your cup of green tea plus a healthy squeeze of lemon juice.
  2. Drink Your Green Tea on an Empty StomachAnother study found that drinking green tea on an empty stomach also resulted in 3x better absorption of EGCG.A chart showing how well EGCG from green tea is absorbed on an empty stomach compared to a fed stomach.

If each of these methods triples the amount of EGCG you absorb, you could hypothetically boost your total intake by 9x!

How Many Cups of Green Tea Should you Drink?

Obviously, this depends on whether or not you use high quality tea and follow all the tips and tricks we have talked about.

Epidemiological studies on various health benefits of green tea seam to achieve good results from drinking 3-6 cups per day.

If you were to follow all of the guidelines mentioned in this article, I would think that you could easily start to see some benefit from drinking even less…

Drink 3-6 cups of green tea for acne treatment

Can Green Tea Help With Hormonal Acne?

The short answer is yes! Let me explain.

Hormonal acne is caused by male sex hormones called androgens. The two most problematic androgens are testosterone and DHT.

Hormonal changes during puberty are the most common reason for elevated androgen levels.

Our bodies oil glands are sensitive to testosterone, and will secrete more sebum (skin oil) if testosterone levels rise. The extra oil leads to clogged pores and acne.

Green tea helps with hormonal acne for a couple of reasons. Green tea reduces androgen sensitivity and it also prevents the conversion of testosterone into DHT.

Side Effects

In dermatology and medicine, the most effective treatments often come with unwanted side-effects. That just doesn’t seem to be the case with using green tea to treat acne.

In all of the studies mentioned throughout this article, there were no major side-effects associated with using green tea creams for acne.

The worst side-effects reported were minor skin itching, which subsided over time.

Conclusion

Green tea is one of the most effective natural acne treatments out there. Studies on green tea creams have shown skin oil reduction of up to 70%, and over 50% less pimples after 6-8 weeks of use.

It treats acne as effectively as benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics such as erythromycin, but with less side-effects. It’s also inexpensive, and easy to use.

If you haven’t tried using green tea to get rid of your acne, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Sophia Simmons
 

I'm not a doctor or anything like that :( , but I love writing about how to have beautiful, clear skin. I put a ton of time and research into everything I write, so I really hope you'll enjoy reading my articles!!

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