NOT ALL TEAS ARE MADE EQUAL
All are rich in antioxidants, and all hydrate and soothe irritated skin. But not all do so equally well – some teas are better for certain things.
Different amounts of antioxidants, caffeine and tannins in teas help skin in different ways.
Whether green, black or white, tea is a proven antioxidant due to the EGCG polyphenols in it. It also has caffeine and tannins, whose constricting effect on micro blood vessels make tea good for soothing skin redness and irritation.
What’s not so wellknown: All tea comes from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. It’s how these leaves are processed that give tea different colours, tastes and aromas. The processing method also affects the chemical composition of the leaves. The result: Certain teas are better at treating certain skin concerns.
How it’s processed: Mature tea leaves are steamed, rolled, then dried. What it contains Green falls in the: middle between black and white teas. It is high in EGCG polyphenols, and has enough caffeine to reduce puffiness and redness in skin. Says Marie Amiand, founder of French-Chinese tea-based skincare brand Lu Ming Tang: “EGCG in high-quality green tea is 30 times more potent as an antioxidant than vitamin E.” Green tea is also a powerful yet gentle antibacterial agent, says Jae Yeon Park, global marketing manager at Caolion Cosmetics. Who it’s best for: Those with sensitive and/or irritable skin.
How it’s processed : The tea leaves turn black as they undergo oxidation and/or fermentation. This process reduces antioxidant activity in the tea – the EGCG polyphenols get converted into theaflavins, which are harder for skin to absorb, making them less effective in skincare, says Jae, What it contains: Fewer antioxidants, yes. But it has the highest caffeine and tannin content of the three teas. Who it’s best for: Those who want to reduce eye puffiness and brighten dark under-eye circles, says Jae. Black tea draws out toxins and shrinks blood vessels.
How it’s processed: Young leaves and buds are left unprocessed, or steamed right after picking. Being the least processed, it retains more of the plant’s natural goodness than black or green tea. What it contains: The highest amount of antioxidants, even more than green tea, says Jae. Who it’s best for: Those whose skin is stressed by city pollution, says Amiand. It’s also good for those with dry, flaking skin – white tea has the least caffeine in it, so is best at helping skin retain moisture.
1 Caolion Pore Triple Action Cleansing Stick (Green Tea), $37. Made for sensitive skin, it transforms from balm to oil on contact, then foams up when you add water. It gently cleanses off makeup as it soothes the skin. 2 Lu Ming Tang Creme de Marie, $66. The Longjing green tea infused in this silky moisturiser is “imperial grade”. It’s pristine – grown and harvested by hand on mountains unaffected by city pollution, so it has the maximum antioxidant benefits of green tea. 3 Juara Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner, $80, www.juaraskincare. com.sg. The toner has white, green and black tea extracts, which work with tamarind seed extract to hydrate, plump and soothe.