The British really are on to something with this whole tea-time thing — the versatile brew is good for the body and the mind. A cup (or three) of tea can calm your nerves, wake you up, or help you sleep, depending on the brew you choose. But its good-for-you benefits don’t end there: It turns out sipping on the stuff has a slew of perks for your skin, too.
For the most part, tea products — both those found in your cupboards and in your bathroom — are formulated with the camellia sinensis plant, says Eliza Savage, a dietician at Middleburg Nutrition in New York City. Black, white, and green teas are all harvested from this plant. Many different types of teas, she says, have tons of antioxidants, which protect the body from free radical environmental damage, the culprit behind premature aging. And while all teas do great things for your skin, different tea leaves and blends provide different benefits.
Read on to find out the difference between five of the most popular types and see which one is right for you and your skin.
“Green tea is one of the most well-researched tea varietals: It’s great for preventing cancer and heart disease, but can also help promote weight loss, improve circulation, delay aging, and promote detoxification,” says Savage. “It’s also rich in polyphenols, specifically ECGC, which have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich when applied to the skin, too.”
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“White tea is harvested while the plant is very young, which differentiates it from the other tea varietals,” says Savage. “It’s minimally processed, but still has the same beneficial antioxidant properties as green tea does.”
Shop It: The Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask ($45), which has white peony, a white tea varietal, weightlessly floods skin with vitamins to help repair it while you sleep.
Unlike green or white, chai tea is a blend from a few different plants. “It’s made using various combinations of tea — usually black — and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, clove, ginger, and black pepper, for example,” she says. “Several of these ingredients are powerful anti-inflammatories and have a high antioxidant load,” which can help smooth your complexion, too.
Shop It: The Whamisa by Glow Studio Charcoal Chai Pore Refining Glow Pads ($25) exfoliate skin, buffing away dead cells and dry flakes, but thanks to the chai infusion, leave skin feeling soft and moisturized. Or, get a literal perk-up with the Whamisa by Glow Studio Chai Tea Eye Cream ($26) — it uses flavonoid-rich rooibos chai extract to hydrate skin and smooth fine lines and wrinkles, plus brightening turmeric and soothing propolis to give you a bright-eyed gaze.
Also known as “sour tea,” says Savage, hibiscus blends are also full of antioxidants that help prevent environmental stress to skin. “In hibiscus tea, the antioxidants are anthocyanins, or the natural pigments that give the flower its red color.”
Shop It: The J. One Red Jelly Pack ($45), which is an ampoule and primer in one, boosts skin’s natural anti-aging powers while simultaneously priming the skin for makeup application — all with a rosy glow thanks to the floral tea addition.
If you’re looking to soothe your worries or your skin, you can count on this sunny little plant. “Chamomile tea is known to be one of the most ancient medicinal herbs touted for its natural healing powers,” says Savage. “The powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich, and antibacterial tea has been used to topically treat skin irritations and facial swelling, as well as also possibly helping to brighten skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots.”
Shop It: The Make P:rem Comfort Air Sheet Mask ($4.50) is exactly what it sounds like — the most calming skin treatment maybe ever. In addition to the chamomile, it helps deliver extra oxygen to the skin, soothing the complexion even more.
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