Green tea found its place in the beauty world decades ago thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Since it’s a true multitasker, green tea is widely used to help with many skin concerns, including wrinkles, acne, dryness, discoloration, and hyperpigmentation. As I’ve already explained how good is green tea for acne, now I’ll go into the benefits of green tea for skin whitening.
During my research, I found that green tea is actually considered a potent skin whitening agent since it can affect melanin production, the pigment that darkens the skin. Here’s everything you need to know if you want to use green tea to lighten your skin.
Benefits of green tea for skin whitening
Until now, studies have shown multiple benefits of green tea for skin whitening, suggesting it as a potential treatment for skin discolorations, such as melasma, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots. The polyphenols and catechins in green tea, mainly EGCG, are known to hold properties that could brighten the skin texture by targeting the causes of excess melanin. However, most evidence refers to the topical application of green tea, and there’s little to no evidence linking drinking green tea with skin whitening.
It has antioxidant properties
One of the reasons why green tea works great for skin whitening is that it’s rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants increase skin defense against UV damage and prevent oxidative stress, a process that affects the skin cells and often leads to excess melanin production.
As I’ve said earlier, melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its color, but it also has the role of protecting the skin by absorbing UV radiation. When the skin is exposed to UV for longer periods, the body produces more melanin to defend itself. This leads to an excess of melanin followed by pigmented skin, discoloration, and dark patches. Studies confirm that UV damage triggers melanin overproduction, suggesting that antioxidants could effectively reduce pigment formation and lighten the skin.
Green tea is well-known to have high antioxidant activities thanks to its polyphenols. It was found that EGCG applied topically before exposure inhibits between 66-80% of the UVB-induced damage, preventing oxidative stress from affecting skin cells. As a result, the body won’t overproduce melanin, leading to a lighter and luminous complexion. Because green tea’s antioxidant properties help prevent and repair sun-damaged skin, green tea is often used for skin whitening and for the treatment of hyperpigmentation and melasma.
Last but not least, it was found that green tea increases antioxidant protection whether drunk or topically applied.
It regulates melanin levels
Another benefit of green tea for skin whitening is reducing melanin formation, aiding to even skin tone, and improve pigmented skin. EGCG and other catechins in green tea were found to have depigmenting effects as they can inhibit melanogenesis, the process which produces melanin, and regulate tyrosinase levels, a key enzyme in melanin synthesis.
Green tea’s effects to regulate melanin levels have led experts to conduct even more research to learn how green tea can be used for skin whitening. They found that topical green tea can inhibit tyrosinase activity by up to 45%, while EGCG and black tea to 61%, and 52%, respectively. Similarly, research reveals that green tea and EGCG can decrease melanin contents by 29% and 20%, while black tea shows the highest inhibitory effect, reducing melanin levels by up to 52%. Finally, results have shown that skin cells treated with topical green tea were less pigmented even after being exposed to the sun for an extended time.
Drinking green tea for skin whitening
The benefits of drinking green tea for skin whitening are yet to be proved. Although it was confirmed several times that green tea consumption increases antioxidants content, decreases inflammation, and protects skin cells from sun damage, no evidence clearly says it lightens the skin. Still, there’s one study that suggests drinking green tea can help suppress skin hyperpigmentation by protecting against oxidative stress, which may lead to brighter and even skin texture.
How to use green tea for skin whitening?
If you want to use green tea for skin whitening, try a DIY mask or a green tea skincare product. As green tea works best when applied topically, you will be more likely to lighten your skin by using a mask or serum than drinking it. Nevertheless, you should still keep up your daily intake of green tea (which is about 3 – 4 cups per day) to maintain your skin healthily and youthful. On top of everything, you can always mix green tea with other skin brightening ingredients such as niacinamide, kojic acid, or vitamin C to boost your results.