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Feed Your Face: Why Green Tea Is Good for Your Skin

By Dr Jessica Wu

The next time you go to Starbucks for your coffee fix, think about grabbing a green tea instead. Not only is tea the second most popular drink in the world (next to water), but it turns out that it can help keep your skin looking its best. In particular, green tea has a high concentration of catechins, natural compounds that have strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging effects. Topical and oral green tea have also been shown to protect the skin from sunburn after exposure to UV light. In addition, green tea has been demonstrated to protect against UV-associated skin cancers.

One study showed that if green tea was applied to the skin half an hour before UV exposure, sunburn and DNA damage caused by UVB (burning) rays were reduced. Green tea was also shown to protect against UVA (aging) rays. Topical green tea has been shown to speed wound healing as well. Given these beneficial effects, various formulations of green tea extracts are now being tested in an effort to provide additional protection against harmful UV rays. The idea is that even if you forgot to reapply sunscreen, or it rubbed off, you'd still get some benefit from the antioxidant effects of green tea. The biggest challenge is to develop formulas that are stable and that can penetrate to the appropriate level in the skin. Until such formulas are available, I’ll keep ordering my iced green tea when I go to Starbucks.

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