Many scientific studies have highlighted the beneficial effects of green tea on a variety of skin conditions. These effects are largely down to the polyphenols (antioxidant molecules) that are present in green tea. Green tea polyphenols can block the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The latter two of which suggest a potential benefit of green tea serum for acne.
Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition characterised by blocked and inflamed hair follicles and sebaceous glands (oil glands) that results in lesions. The condition is caused by a number of overlapping factors:
(1) Excessive oil production
(2) A build-up of dead skin cells
(3) P-acnes bacteria
Hormones can cause the sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum as well as causing an abnormal build up of epithelial (skin) cells. The excess skin cells block the hair follicles, trapping the oil within. The p-acnes bacteria that live within the oil glands feed off of this excess oil and multiply which causes an inflammatory response.
You can read about this process in more detail here: The 4 Main Causes of Acne
Some research has suggested that green tea polyphenols may be a promising treatment for acne by reducing sebum production in the skin and acting in an anti-inflammatory and an antimicrobial manner. This means that green tea could potentially target 3 of the 4 main causes of acne.
Green Tea Serum for Acne
The major polyphenol present in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been observed to reduce sebum production and reduce the inflammation caused by p-acnes bacteria.
Green Tea and Sebum Production
Some research has suggested that topical application of green tea can reduce the amount of oil that the skin produces. A topical 3% green tea formulation was applied to the cheek area of 10 men aged between 24-40 years old for 8 weeks. In the first week of application, the average amount of sebum produced reduced by 10% and by week 8 the average amount of sebum produced was reduced by 60% . Another study of 22 men found a 27% reduction in sebum secretion after 60 days of application .
While these studies show that a green tea serum may be promising in the treatment of acne, both studies had a small sample size and only used healthy acne free men.
Green Tea Serum for Acne Treatment
A number of scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of green tea serum for acne. For example, one study found that a topical green tea lotion reduced the number of inflammatory acne lesions when applied twice daily for two weeks . Another study demonstrated a reduction in inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions by 89% and 79%, respectively, after topical application of EGCG .
However, green tea serum doesn’t appear to be effective for all types of acne lesion. For example, a Korean study found that a green tea extract applied twice daily for 8 weeks reduced open comedones by 61% and reduced pustules by 28% but there was no significant reduction in the number of closed comedones .
In addition, EGCG has demonstrated effectiveness at reducing the facial redness associated with rosacea . This could offer further benefits for individuals with acne as well as those with the post-inflammatory erythema associated with acne.
How Can You Incorporate Green Tea Into Your Skincare Routine?
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG is mainly targeted toward treating puffiness and dark circles in the eye area. However, the addition of highly-purified EGCG means it may double as a green tea serum! In fact, one study found that a topical combination of green tea polyphenols (EGCG is the most potent) reduced the amount of p-acnes bacteria and improved the overall appearance of acne in as little as two weeks!  Of course, this is just one study of 33 patients, so your results may vary.
For a little more antioxidant power how about Replenix Power of Three Antioxidant Serum which contains resveratrol as well as caffeine and green tea.
For those of you who like your products to be well and truly tried and tested, check out Korean brand Innisfree! They do an excellent Green Tea Seed Serum that has rave reviews on Amazon! Check it out if you don’t believe me!
… and if you like this, Innisfree also do a Green Tea Balancing Skin Care Set!
When it comes to green tea serums for acne, there are plenty of options to choose from!
- Mahmood, T., Akhtar, N., Khan, B. & Saeed, T. (2010). ‘Outcomes of 3% green tea emulsion on skin sebum production in male volunteers’, Bosn J Basic Med. Sci., 10(3), pp. 260-264. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20846135/
- Mahmood, T., Akhtar, N. & Moldovan, C. (2013). ‘A comparison of the effects of topical green tea and lotus on facial sebum control in healthy humans’, Hippokratia, 17(1), pp. 64-67. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23935347/
- Sharquie, K., Noaimi, A. & Al-Sahil, M. (2008). ‘Topical therapy of acne vulgaris using 2% tea lotion in comparison with 5% zinc sulphate solution’, Saudi Med J., 29(12), pp. 1757-1761. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19082228/
- Yoon, J., Kwon, H., Min, S., Thiboutot, D. & Suh, D. (2013). ‘Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P.acnes’, J Invest Dermatol, 133(2), pp. 429-440. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23096708/
- Jung, M., Ha, S., Son, J., Song, J., Houh, Y., Cho, E., Chun, J., Yoon, S., Yang, Y., Bang, S., Kim, M., Park, H. & Cho, D. (2012). ‘Polyphenon-60 displays a therapeutic effect on acne by suppression of TLR2 and IL-8 expression via down-regulating the ERK1/2 pathway’. Arch Dermatol Res, 304(8), pp. 655-663. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22684779/
- Domingo, D., Camouse, M., Hsia, A., Matsui, M., Maes, D., Ward, N., Cooper, K. & Baron, E. (2010). ‘Anti-angiogenic effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate in human skin’, Int J Clin Exp Pathol., 3(7), pp. 705-709. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20830241?dopt=Abstract
- Siu, S., Ferzili, G. & Brody, N. (2017). ‘Topical green tea polyphenols and caffeine as a treatment for acne vulgaris’, J Am Acad Derm., 76(6), Supp 1, pp. AB262. Available at: https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(17)31504-9/fulltext
Laura is a skincare addict and sunscreen enthusiast with more than 10 years of experience working in healthcare and over 5 years of experience working as a nurse. She has experience in plastic and reconstructive surgery, dermatology, and aesthetics and has received training in laser treatments. Laura is currently working in healthcare education and writes for ScienceBecomesHer in her spare time. Read More.