Guest post by Suki Kramer.
Ahhh. Especially now, when the weather is turning so cold, so fast, when I’m actually thinking about breaking out my long winter wools, there’s nothing like a cup of tea. Well that, and a long, hot, fragrant bath.
The benefits of drinking a regular cup of tea spans centuries and cultures, and now, there are an increasing number of clinical studies suggesting a hot botanical blend is also good for your skin in a myriad of ways — from fighting free radicals to preventing acne, (not to mention coffee can’t measure up to the ritual of even a basic tea service, even with a complicated ordering process, I mean, think of English tea time or the Asian tea ceremony) a daily (caffeine-free) tea tradition can be a delicious and soothing way to promote healthy skin.
Let’s start with the obvious benefit: water. We’ve all heard repeatedly about importance of hydration, how water moisturizes our skin from the inside out. But we are now hearing that drinking tea—especially green tea—may even be better than drinking water alone, since tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants. Of course this is where the caffeine- free part comes in. Caffeine is a diuretic, i.e.; wouldn’t work out so well for hydration, so let’s stick to herbal tea here, green in particular. (Editor’s note: green tea does contain caffeine – but less than black tea and a lot less than coffee.)
Why all the buzz about green tea? Because this leaf reportedly has the highest levels of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. These polyphenols are some of the best weapons again free radicals, which form in our skin from a variety of sources, including exposure to environmental toxins and pollution, stress in our daily lives, not enough exercise, overexposure to UV rays and the simple, plain old, natural aging process. Drinking green tea seems to help reduce or even prevent free radical damage, slow down signs of aging and increase the body’s overall antioxidant activity — that’s a lot of power to pack into one cup, don’t you think? And this is why you will see green tea in skin care products as well. It’s one powerful antioxidant when used topically as well!
In fact, in one 12-week study with women, green tea was found to reduce skin redness after a sunburn, and the researchers also found that the tea drinker’s skin had increased elasticity, less roughness and higher moisture content. Drinking green tea has also been shown to help with acne by reducing stress (always a big trigger for acne!) and the release of cortisol. Green tea has amazing anti-inflammation properties as well, so drinking it can also benefit people with psoriasis, eczema and rosacea.
But what about other teas? Are they also full of the awesome benefits of polyphenols? The answer is yes! All teas, even with caffeine, contain polyphenols, however the types in each tea vary. Black, green, red, white, oolong, and herbal—all have their own benefits. Add in fruit, medicinal herbs, even flowers, and you have a potent cupful of healing liquid.
There are actually many plant-based botanicals that are excellent for balancing and correcting skin conditions. These herbals can promote detoxification and support the health and appearance of your skin. Not only can you drink these teas, you can use them as a facial steam or add them to your bath water for a luxurious, healing soak. That’s why you’ll see so many of these herbs and herbal blends used as ingredients in 100% pure, organic skin care formulas. Here are some DIY ideas:
For soothing dry skin
Chamomile has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and is wonderful for red, dry skin and eczema. Chamomile is related to the daisy, and this tiny white flower can also help improve digestive health as well. Poor digestion is often a source of skin irritations (which is also why I recommend that everybody take a daily probiotic!), and your skin is a reflection on your body’s overall health. Other good choices for dry skin are lavender, detox blend and calendula. You can create your own toner using a combination of these teas—just brew one or more of them, let the infusion cool and apply to your face with a cotton ball or mist sprayer.
For detox or acne relief
Okay, we know about green tea’s terrific anti-inflammatory properties, but there are other great herbs for acne, including burdock root, an excellent plant for correcting a variety of skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Dandelion is wonderful for cleansing and is used in many herbal blends as a diuretic and as a rich source of potassium. Other herbs like the natural antibiotic echinacea, calming valerian and bacteria fighting goldenseal are great for acne. I recommend, Yogi DeTox Tea, a blended tea, for acne and any kind of purification.
For healing and rejuvenation
Rosehip tea — made from dried rosehips — is not only yummy and refreshing, but it’s also one of the best sources for vitamin C, an antioxidant that is vital for a healthy immune system. Rosehips also have antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-aging properties. Hibiscus teas also protect against cell-damaging free radicals, and as a bonus you can blend them with green or white tea, other great sources of antioxidants. Sassafras is a good herb for clearing skin, and sarsaparilla is excellent for its cleansing properties.
There’s a world of tea out there that will help you take care of your skin from within. I even found this very cool company that makes skin-smart tea! Tea forté has a great selection of teas that work with your body’s chemistry to support your skin’s health. So the next time you put the kettle on, you can feel good knowing that your skin is enjoying that cup as much as you are!