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It seems as though there’s a new “cure” for acne almost every day, and there are many effective prescription and over-the-counter treatments. But, if you want a natural, nonchemical way to treat your breakouts, green tea may be just what you’re looking for.

Researchers have found that for some people, the consumption or topical application of green tea or green tea extract can help improve the lesions, redness, and irritated skin that acne causes.

Green tea contains substances called catechins. These plant-based compounds, or polyphenols, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties. They also attack free radicals.

Green tea is especially rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol that research has shown can improve acne and oily skin.

In addition to having anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties, EGCG lowers lipid levels and is anti-androgenic, making it effective at reducing sebum (oil) excretions in the skin.

Androgens are hormones that the body produces naturally. High or fluctuating androgen levels stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. Excess sebum can clog pores and increase bacterial growth, causing hormonal acne. EGCG helps break this cycle.

If you’re ready to try using green tea for acne, you have several different options. A trial and error approach may be the most beneficial. Keep in mind that there’s no specific dosing recommendation in place for using green tea for the skin.

Also, although many at-home treatments have anecdotal evidence to back them up, scientific research has not yet proven them to work. Things to try include:

Green tea mask for acne
  • Remove the leaves from one or two tea bags and moisten them with warm water.
  • Mix the leaves with honey or aloe vera gel.
  • Spread the mixture on the acne-prone areas of your face.
  • Leave the mask on for 10 to 20 minutes.

If you prefer your facial mask to have a more paste-like quality, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the mix, but be mindful that baking soda can strip the skin of its natural oils and may be very irritating.

You can also try placing the tea leaves in a blender or food processor and blending them until they become powder-like.

Apply the green tea mask two times a week.

For a midday pick-me-up, you can drink a cup of iced green tea or add moisture directly to your face using an EGCG-packed green tea facial spritz. Here’s one way to make your own:

Green tea facial spritz
  • Prepare green tea, and let it cool completely.
  • Fill a spritz bottle with the cold tea.
  • Spray it gently onto clean skin.
  • Let it dry on your face for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Rinse your face with cool water.

If you prefer, you can use cotton pads to dab the green tea mixture onto your face.

Use the green tea facial spritz two times a week.

Commercially prepared products

Several creams, lotions, and serums contain green tea as an ingredient. Look for products with a significant percentage of EGCG. You can also buy powdered EGCG and green tea to mix into your favorite gentle lotion or cream.

Drinking green tea

Although drinking green tea may be beneficial for acne as well as for overall health, researchers haven’t yet confirmed what dosage is most effective.

You can try drinking two to three cups a day, either hot or cold. Brew yours at home and avoid ready-made tea drinks where possible, unless their label indicates how much tea is actually in them. Some of these products contain more sugar than green tea.

Shop for green tea online.

Supplements

You might also wish to try reputable sources of green tea or EGCG supplements, extracts, or powders, but take care to watch your dosage.

Ingesting 800 milligrams or more of green tea catechins daily may adversely affect the liver.

Green tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. Black and white teas also come from this plant.

Originally, green tea came solely from China, but people now cultivate it in many places around the world, including India and Sri Lanka. The majority of the high-quality green tea that we drink today comes from China and Japan.

Loose green tea is often of better quality than the tea that you find in tea bags. However, there are many high-quality green tea bag brands that you can sample. Whether you prefer loose or bagged tea, consider using certified, organically grown teas, as these won’t contain any pesticides, chemicals, or additives.

Opt for brands that indicate the source of the tea and where it grew. Good brands to try include Yogi, Numi, Twinings, Bigelow, and Harney & Sons.

Green tea is a healthful, natural substance that may help reduce acne breakouts. Research has shown both oral and topical use of green tea to be effective in treating acne. You can try green tea for acne on its own or in addition to other products.