By Robert Schmelter
The fact that tea is an excellent source of antioxidants – along with possessing a myriad of other health benefits – has long been established and reported at length. Its properties are believed to improve liver and kidney functions, clear your digestive system, and improve your mood. That's great for your internal mechanism, but what about externally? Can tea also benefit your physical appearance?
Tea extracts can be found in a wide variety of cosmetic and hair care products – from facial masks to shampoos and conditioners. Green tea, in particular, is commonly used in these products for its antioxidant properties – fighting off free radicals which cause chain reactions leading to cell damage.
As a result, hair care products infused with green tea are an excellent defense against hair loss. Its properties are also used in the treatment and prevention of dandruff and psoriasis, where its application on the scalp can soothe the skin and reduce inflammation.
According to an article on eHow, "Green tea also contains vitamin C, vitamin E, and panthenol, which are all common ingredients in hair conditioner. Vitamin E restores dry or damaged hair, while vitamin C guards against damage from UV radiation. Panthenol, a provitamin, strengthens and softens hair and prevents split ends." The author, Karen Eisenbraun, suggests choosing products that contain real green tea extract or EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a powerful antioxidant found in green tea.
Beyond hair care, green tea's antioxidant richness is being put to use in skin care, as well, in the form of masks, lotions, and creams. Pharmacy and department store shelves are lined with beauty products featuring green tea or green tea extract, promising to rid the skin of impurities through its antioxidant properties.
Several blogs and websites offer recipes for homemade face washes and face masks infused with green tea extract. This article at ivillage.com shows you how to make your own face mask using a combination of Himalayan green tea leaves and mayonnaise.
Another recipe at eHow suggests using petroleum jelly, extra-virgin olive oil, and green tea bags to make their mask. EHow also offers a white tea anti-aging mask recipe as an alternative to the green tea mask. The article suggests that a white tea mask is more beneficial than a green tea mask because white tea is less processed.
Green tea can also fight bad breath, as several studies have shown. Articles on WebMD and the food blog Serious Eats discuss how green tea fights the mouth infections and bacteria that cause bad breath. In 2007, the makers of Crest toothpaste launched a new toothpaste line called "Nature's Expressions," which contains green tea extract.
The health benefits of green tea and the antioxidants it contains cannot be denied, and the ways in which consumers can access these properties is varied. From face masks to shampoo, lotions to toothpaste, green tea is a versatile and potent ingredient.