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Asia might have discovered the health benefits of green tea over two thousand years ago, but the mystical ingredient is beauty’s new superhero, giving skincare a refreshing reboot for the twenty-first century. Drinking the ancient brew has long been proven to delay ageing, improve brain function and possibly even lower the risk of diabetes and cancer. More recently, it’s been discovered that using green tea topically has a myriad of beauty benefits, ranging from improved skin texture to delaying the signs of ageing to repairing sun damage.
Antioxidants are one of the most potent weapons in the fight against ageing, and the power of green tea comes from it possessing a high percentage of a class of them, known as catechins. The king of catechins is EGCG in green tea, known for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and boosting skin radiance. If you think this all sounds like something swirling in the tea leaves, think again. In a report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association of Dermatology, it was suggested that, based on several studies, “green teas possess anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic potential, which can be exploited against a variety of skin disorders.” The researchers added that “skin care products with green tea may have a profound impact on various skin disorders in the years to come.”
That time has arrived, with a plethora of skin care and makeup brands incorporating the ingredient for its soothing, brightening and anti-ageing prowess. Some brands trumpet the plant with evocative stories of a rich Asian history, whereas other brands simply list it as one of their ingredients.
AmorePacific is definitely in the former camp, with a noble, near poetic, story behind it to boot. The Korean company was founded in 1945 by Sung-whan Suh, who had a deep interest in the power of plants and travelled the globe to research particular species. He was particularly impressed by the way plant-based ingredients were used in beauty in France, and returned to Korea with a vision to bring Asian botanicals to women around the world. He planted his own green tea forest on Jeju Island, and with his passion and determination turned what was once barren land into a fertile field for the locals of Dolsongi Village.
Based on the Asian philosophy that the life cycle of plants and humans share similar elements, AmorePacific places great importance on every stage and part of the green tea plant—from the roots to the fruits—in order to harvest its hero ingredient to the highest quality. It is the only cosmetics company in the world to grow its own green tea, which forms the basis of game-changing products such as its Vintage Single Extract Essence, an antioxidant-rich extract crafted by tea masters and then aged for 100 days. The brand’s Time Response Renewal Crème is an intense anti-ageing cream that fosters smoothness, radiance and a supple complexion, while its Time Response Serum contains a high concentration of green tea flower essential oil and Asian botanicals that infuse the skin with regenerative nutrients.
For a takeaway tea fix on the go, look no further than Mario Badescu’s refreshing Facial Spray with aloe, cucumber and green tea. Chantecaille’s Just Skin Tinted Moisturiser is similarly ideal for keeping in your handbag. Infused with anti-irritant and anti-pollution extracts, including green tea and honeysuckle, it provides buildable coverage that evens out skin tone and contains the added bonus of sun protection. Kosas’ Colour & Light Creme Palette is a creamy blush and highlighter duo formulated with hydrating green tea, myrrh oil, rosehip seeds and marula, and for when you’ve removed your makeup, the cult Deep Moisture Mask by Clark’s Botanicals softens skin and replenishes moisture with its supercharged ingredients, including Japanese green tea.
Green tea even makes its way into scent, with its uplifting and energising aroma providing an unexpected hit in Ellis Brooklyn’s Sci Fi, a vanilla-based scent. New Yorker Bee Shapiro founded the Williamsburg-based vegan brand in 2015 with a commitment to responsible sourcing and cruelty-free manufacturing, and her reliance on natural ingredients such as tea, bergamot and bitter orange defines her sophisticated and multilayered scents.
If you prefer your tea with a side of scones and whipped cream, try Drunk Elephant’s Lala Retro Whipped Cream. A rich skin rescue smoothie, the airy blend of six rare African oils, plantain extract and antioxidant-rich fermented green tea visibly brightens the skin and locks in moisture for hours after application. African ingredients also star in African Botanics Buchu Botanical Enzyme Polish, which harnesses the texture of dry green rooibos tea leaves to gently exfoliate skin. Green tea also helps to remove excess oil and pollutants, working alongside papaya and pineapple enzymes to smooth and boost radiance, and rose geranium and bergamot essential oils to detoxify and calm.
Clearly, there’s something for everyone when it comes to skin care infused with the legendary ingredient. If you’ve only been enjoying the benefits of green tea with a daily cuppa, perhaps it’s time to add the winning ingredient to your skin care regime too.
Words by Georgina SafeOctober 2018
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