That is certainly a cheap and easy option, but is it effective? Can the same results I've written about it by the use of brewed green tea? In this post I want to answer this question, to the best of my ability.
Using brewed green tea we walk in a couple of potential problems. First, the dosage, you enough epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea brewed in an effective dose. Secondly, you can green tea absorbed through the skin? And finally, what is the shelf life of this DIY solution, ie how often the tea?
Before we begin, I want to put a disclaimer out there. This message is much more speculative than my other posts. There are just too many unanswered questions here and I need some assumptions to make. So this message is not the "last word" on the subject. I'm just here with my best shot at answering a difficult question.
My biggest concern is whether you can get enough EGCG in your face brewed tea.
I did some back of the envelope calculations to see if this is possible. I had a number of assumptions for these calculations, and if my assumptions are off the mark as the calculations. Here are the assumptions:
Amount of cream per application = 1 g. This is the amount of cream at one time. I got this from the fact that my benzoyl peroxide bottle contains 60g and it takes about 2 months.
Concentration of active ingredients in the cream = 2%. Most studies on green tea cream using either 2%, 3% used. The active ingredient in green tea extract.
Concentration of EGCG in green tea extract = 60%. In principle, there is much EGCG in green tea extract. In a previous post I referred to a study that 30 mg 50mg of EGCG from green tea extract measured. This is logical as EGCG is the major catechin in green tea.
EGCG per one cup of green tea = 150 mg. My first tea hacking message called a USDA report that showed that the average cup of brewed green tea has 180mg of EGCG. I rounded it up to 150 mg to be on the safe side.
Based on these assumptions, we can simple math:
Using 1g 2% green tea cream means that you apply 20mg of green tea extract on your face during a single application.
And that 20 mg of green tea extract with 12 mg EGCG.
Since 2% green tea cream has been shown to both reduce sebum production and effectively treat acne, let's use this as the target dose. So now we have to figure out how to get 12 mg of EGCG from green tea brewed on your skin.
A cup is 250ml, with 150 mg EGCG per cup means there 0.6mg per ml of EGCG tea. Let's make this a little more specific and talk about teaspoons instead of milliliters. One teaspoon 5 ml, so that a single teaspoon of green tea has 3 mg EGCG. The effective dose of 12 mg to reach you 4 teaspoons tea to apply on your face.
I do not know about you, but I'm not sure if you have 4 teaspoons tea liquid absorbed through the skin at a meeting to get. Maybe you can, I really do not know, but I am skeptical about it.
Of course you can always stronger brew tea and increase the amount of EGCG per teaspoon, and that means less teaspoons to achieve the effective dose.
Normal tea: 4 teaspoons to the effective dose.
2x strength: 2 teaspoons
3x power: 1.3 teaspoons
4x strength: 1 teaspoon
As I said, these calculations are rough at best and rely on some off the cuff assumptions. While they may be wrong, I think they are in the right ballpark. It seems feasible to achieve the effective dose using brewed green tea.
In addition to the dosage, my other major concern is the skin penetration and absorption. Is it possible to green tea by the skin, and if yes, what percentage of it is absorbed and what just sits on the skin and slowly evaporates?
Reading about the skin penetration and absorption, I came up with the following points:
Smaller molecules have easier time through the skin. Apparently there is something called the 500 Dalton rule, which says that molecules heavier than 500 Daltons can not penetrate the skin. Wikipedia says that the molar mass of EGCG is 458 daltons, so it's small enough to pass through the skin.
Fat-soluble substances penetrate better than water-soluble substance, EGCG is water-soluble.
The higher the concentration comes through, a reason strong tea brew.
I found a test tube study that exposure to water improves skin penetration showed. Not sure if we would have the same effect in human studies to see, but it might be a good idea to green tea to apply immediately after shower.
Unfortunately this is a question I can not answer definitively. I'm sure some EGCG is absorbed from brewed tea, such as bathing / showering can be a major source of exposure to chemicals.
For more information on skin penetration and absorption, I recommend reading these two articles:
The Impenetrable Facts of skin penetration and absorption
Penetration of Cosmetic Ingredients
Skin Care Products - How many get in?
Shelf life is the last concern of this DIY solution. This allows you to brew the tea in larger batches or have a fresh brew to make every time?
In my previous post hack tea, I referred to a study on the degradation of green tea catechins (antioxidants) under different conditions. The catechins are destroyed when they interact with oxygen and impurities in the water. This means that under normal conditions at home about 50% of the catechins are destroyed during the first 5-6 hours, basically making the DIY solution useless.
I also discussed how to add vitamin C to the tea catechins protects and prolongs the shelf life. Adding 50 mg of vitamin C per cup (250 ml) of tea prolongs the shelf life enough that you store the tea for 8-9 hours without significant losses in potency.
What this means to you? Plain Green Tea "as is" is only good for a single application. Adding some vitamin C can overnight to save and 2 applications of it. Then you go to another party brewing.
What about the user experience?
Sometimes we just do not have enough scientific data to answer a question. In that time we have to resort to the most unreliable form of evidence and testimonies user reviews. So let's dip into the bottom of the barrel proof and see what other people have said about topical green tea.
For reviews I saw on two locations: acne.org reviews on Makeup Alley green tea and green tea bag Toner Reviews.
The reviews on acne.org mix of both drinking green tea and use it locally, but we can live with.
Overall, the reviews are very positive. On the acne.org is 4.4 out of 5, whereas Makeup Alley users rate as 4.5 of 5. On both sides more than 90% of users would buy again or recommend to a friend. I should also note that some people, minority, however, said that current green tea made their acne worse.
So overall the feedback from users has been very positive.
I have some problems with this point.
Of some glowing reviews it is clear that the improvement has little to do with green tea had. This is because the use of the methods described is that they are very unlikely to be effective. Some people steeped the bags in cold water - you have to really hot water extract catechins from tea leaves. Other people bottled tea and used it for several days, but as we've discussed brewed tea quickly loses its power.
Many reviews only talk about short-term effects. Like, I started using it two weeks ago and it is a miracle. Acne somewhat cyclical there are times when your skin is better and times when it is worse. Thus, the improvement was really due to green tea or just natural fluctuation? And did the effects last? We can not say.
Some people also many changes, but wrote the improvement of green tea. Such as the use of green tea I have done this and that, and my skin is so much better now. What was it that caused the improvement? Again, we can not say.
My point is that these reviews with a grain of salt. They show that there is potential for DIY green tea treatment.
Green tea honey maskI also noticed on acne.org reviews for green tea honey mask. This sounds like it may be a good idea. Mixing green tea with honey makes the mixture to your face stay longer, which naturally helps with skin penetration and absorption.
People said that they have some green tea leaves mixed with honey and spread the mixture on their face. Do not do this. It is highly unlikely that the contact with honey every catechins from green tea extracts. You need to steep them in hot water to the catechins get out, and then mix the tea with honey.
Let's say you've decided to give this a go. How would you do this? Well, this is how I would do it.
To start you need a good quality tea and brew it correctly. My recommendation is to the mass market brands (such as Lipton) to avoid a special brand Japanese loose leaf tea. My first tea hacking message shows the great difference in EGCG content of teas.
Then you have to brew it. For best results, I would add 4 times the normal amount of tea leaves. This means that your tea has 4 times more EGCG. When issuing regular tea you would use about 2g of tea leaves per cup of water. As a rough estimate, 2g is about a teaspoon. I could make 100ml (slightly less than 1/2 cup) at a time, so that I 2 teaspoons tea leaves to use.
Brewing the tea for 4-5 minutes in boiling water. Boiling water gets the most catechins in the leaves. And do not worry, you are not going to destroy the antioxidants, research has shown that they can withstand boiling water for 30 minutes or so.
If you plan to use more than one of these, add about 100 mg of vitamin C.
Let the tea cool (do not add ice as it dilutes the EGCG content) and either mix with honey for a mask and apply to your face with a cotton pad.
As with all acne treatments, consistency is the key. You should do this every day for several weeks to really see results. Many of the studies using green tea started good results after 4 weeks. So be patient.
That's it for this post. I hope you found it helpful. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Also if you notice some problems with my assumptions and calculations, please let me know so I can get them resolved.