Green tea may not be a cure for acne, but some research suggests that green tea is a viable natural remedy for mild acne.
Green tea contains plant-based compounds called catechins.
One catechin compound in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has significant anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antioxidant properties that could help prevent or treat acne.
According to a 2017 review of research studies, compounds in green tea known as polyphenols may assist skin health by helping to prevent the sebaceous glands from producing excess sebum, or oil.
Too much sebum can cause dead skin cells to stick together and clog pores, which can trigger acne. Reducing sebum production on the skin may help prevent acne breakouts.
A review of skin care options for treating oily skin cited two small studies, which support the use of topical green tea extract for the reduction of oil. Both studies showed some oil reduction within 60 days of participants using green tea extract on their skin.
An older review from 2012 showed that using green tea extract topically may help with numerous skin conditions, including acne. However, the authors note that the benefits of using green tea orally or topically were not always consistent.
In a study from 2016, researchers examined how green tea supplements, specifically EGCG, affected acne in postadolescent females. They found that the supplements helped reduce inflammation lesions around the nose, mouth, and chin.
When treating acne with green tea, a person can apply products containing green tea topically on the skin. Alternatively, they can take supplements orally.
Researchers have primarily looked at green tea for acne as a topical application or as a supplement. Most studies have shown the positive effects of using either of these methods.
Few studies look at the effects of drinking green tea as a treatment for acne. The main issue is that researchers have not determined the effective dose, so the quantity of compounds in a drink may not be enough to have positive benefits for acne.
If someone is interested in drinking green tea, they should consider brewing their tea at home. Premade green tea, such as iced green tea in bottles or cans, often contains additives and sugar. This could negate some potential benefits.
Green tea may have some other health benefits. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these may include:
- improving mental awareness
- helping treat genital warts when in specific medications
- improving blood pressure and cholesterol
The NIH warn that green tea does not help with significant weight loss and weight management. Products that claim green tea will help with weight loss are falsely advertising, as no evidence supports the claims.
People considering oral green tea supplements should talk to their doctor first. They should review all their current medications with their doctor to ensure that a green tea supplement will not interfere with these.
The European Food Safety Authority and the NIHboth cite possible liver damage from taking high doses of green tea extract.
The NIH also point out safety issues due to the amount of caffeine in some green tea supplements.
The NIH state that drinking green tea has minimal side effects. However, people should note that no studies looked directly at drinking green tea and its effects on acne.
As an ingredient in cosmetics or toiletries and as a supplement, green tea may help improve and prevent acne.
Several studies have shown that either topical creams and ointments or supplements containing green tea may be effective. Drinking green tea may have a similar effect, but an effective dose is still not known. Drinking a cup or two of green tea will unlikely cause any issues and may improve health over time.
People should talk to their doctor before starting any supplement, including green tea. Anyone with chronic or severe acne should seek medical treatment for reliable results.