Meet our ingredients: 1. Green tea extract
Welcome to the new blog series where we take a look at the ingredients used in SBK products and why we love them! We hope to give you an appreciation for why we formulated with each ingredient and a little know-how as you look at products that contain these ingredients in the future.
As always, if you have come across a study that contradicts or even adds to anything written here, please always feel welcome to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org - we are always happy to hear from you.
Now, lets take a look at green tea extract!
By Dr Kara Johns
Green tea has to be my favourite skincare ingredient from the past few years! It is such an epic ingredient that is good for all skin types, all skin issues and all skin ages. It still isn’t overly used in Australian made skincare, but that has nothing to do with how amazing it is as an ingredient.
How it is made:
Green tea extract is pretty much exactly what is says – an extract from green tea! The tea that we drink from green tea leaves is essentially a form of green tea extract, as the hot water extracts chemical compounds out of the leaves making the characteristic smell and taste. The difference with the ingredient we use in skin care is that the liquid extract is then evaporated, so that the chemical compounds are more concentrated than in the leaf itself or in the extraction fluid (often 3-4 times more concentrated).
Getting technical for a moment – lets just chat about what the key compounds are in the green tea extract [1, 2]:
- Catechins – major four are EGGC, EGC, ECG and EC
- Theanine (amino acid)
- Vitamin C
The main bioactive compound of interest is EGGC and many of the benefits of green tea extract are due to this bad boy. So naturally you may be thinking why don’t we just purify this individual compound and just put this in skincare? Well it’s not very happy on its own and gets unstable; it prefers to be surrounded by its other green tea compound friends – so we keep them together!
So what does green tea extract actually do to the skin? Well, lets just list the functions that have been reported in studies :
- UV protection
- Oil regulation
How green tea extract manages to do all this is through a bunch of complex relationships with receptors and enzymes within the skin. This manages to switch off bad processes and/or switch on good processes in the skin – resulting in the above outcomes. No surprise really that green tea extract has then been studied and found to be helpful for a variety of skin conditions:
- Wound healing
- Hair loss
(If you want to read further on this – check out the references below, [4-12])
Take note that I said ‘helpful’ here and not ‘effective’ – mostly because the studies that have been done have limitations and you won’t find yourself walking out of a medical doctors office with a prescription for a certain concentration of topical green tea extract just yet! But if you have one of the above conditions, it certainly may be useful to include green tea extract in at least one of your skincare products.
Some of the difficulty with studying a plant extract is that the compounds found in the extract will vary depending on where the plant is grown, the time of year that the leaves are picked, the age of the leaves when they are picked, the horticultural processes and the extraction method used. So 3% of green tea extract used in one study, may not be the same as 3% of green tea extract used in a different study. Which can explain why there are different outcomes from similar studies. As a consumer, you can’t work out the quality of an ingredient used by a brand; you really can only estimate perhaps the percent of the ingredient by where it is in the ingredients list.
So what percent of green tea extract has been found to be ‘helpful’? Great question! The answer isn’t so simple though. It depends what kind of ‘help’ you want and the quality of the extract being used. For example, antibacterial properties have been shown at less than 1% , were as a reduction in acne has been shown in studies using between 2-5% . As a general guide, I’d suggest you look for green tea to be in the top half of an ingredient list if you are looking for support with a specific skin condition.
All skin types!
Green tea extract really is one of those ingredients I look for in a product that I’m going to use every day, especially twice a day. It can be beneficial for everyone – young, old, all skin colours, and most skin conditions.
But remember – any ingredient can cause an allergic response, so always patch test a new product before fully using.
Things to look out for:
If a product has been marketed as having all of the above benefits thanks to including green tea extract, then it is actually one of the lowest concentration ingredients in the product, take the time to think about whether that makes sense (hint – it doesn’t!!).
Also watch out for a different ingredient – green tea water. This is not the same as green tea extract and has a lower percentage of the green tea leaf compounds. Don’t be fooled into thinking a product made with 50% green tea water is better than a product with 5% green tea extract.
Oh and packaging matters! The compounds in green tea extract can easily oxidize with air and you’ll notice the product can change colour over time. This also means that the product won’t be as effective. The best packaging is an airless pump style that doesn’t let light reach the product.
SBK Products you will find this ingredient in:
Because I love green tea extract, you will find it all 4 of SBK’s launch products! If you are interested in a product to be helpful for a specific skin condition, then I’d suggest you focus on a ‘leave on’ product, such as the SBK moisturizer.
Until next time,
References and where to read more:
- Zink, A. and C. Traidl-Hoffmann, Green tea in dermatology--myths and facts. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges, 2015. 13(8): p. 768-75.
- Kochman, J., et al., Health Benefits and Chemical Composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review. Molecules, 2020. 26(1).
- Yusuf, N., et al., Photoprotective effects of green tea polyphenols. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed, 2007. 23(1): p. 48-56.
- Kim, H.K., et al., Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis Associated with Malassezia sympodialis by Green Tea Extracts Bath Therapy: A Pilot Study. Mycobiology, 2012. 40(2): p. 124-8.
- Reuter, J., et al., Which plant for which skin disease? Part 1: Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, condyloma and herpes simplex. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges, 2010. 8(10): p. 788-96.
- Elsaie, M.L., et al., The efficacy of topical 2% green tea lotion in mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris. J Drugs Dermatol, 2009. 8(4): p. 358-64.
- Domingo, D.S., et al., Anti-angiogenic effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate in human skin. Int J Clin Exp Pathol, 2010. 3(7): p. 705-9.
- Steinmann, J., et al., Anti-infective properties of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a component of green tea. Br J Pharmacol, 2013. 168(5): p. 1059-73.
- Reuter, J., et al., Which plant for which skin disease? Part 2: Dermatophytes, chronic venous insufficiency, photoprotection, actinic keratoses, vitiligo, hair loss, cosmetic indications. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges, 2010. 8(11): p. 866-73.
- Namazi, M.R. and A. Feily, Green tea extract: a novel addition to the antihirsutism armamentarium? J Altern Complement Med, 2009. 15(7): p. 700-1.
- Chiu, A.E., et al., Double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of green tea extracts in the clinical and histologic appearance of photoaging skin. Dermatol Surg, 2005. 31(7 Pt 2): p. 855-60; discussion 860.
- Frasheri, L., et al., Great green tea ingredient? A narrative literature review on epigallocatechin gallate and its biophysical properties for topical use in dermatology. Phytother Res, 2020. 34(9): p. 2170-2179.
- Jeon, J., et al., The Antimicrobial Activity of (-)-Epigallocatehin-3-Gallate and Green Tea Extracts against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli Isolated from Skin Wounds. Ann Dermatol, 2014. 26(5): p. 564-9.
- Saric, S., M. Notay, and R.K. Sivamani, Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris. Antioxidants (Basel), 2016. 6(1).