How Green Tea Works for Skin Whitening

Does green tea lighten skin? That's the question!
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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 can tackle almost any skin concern, including wrinkles, acne, dryness, and discolorations. 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.

Benefits of green tea for skin whitening

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 can 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. 

Without further ado, below are the main benefits of green tea for treating hyperpigmentation and brightening skin tone.

It has antioxidant properties

One of the reasons 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 defines skin 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 and dark patches. 

Studies have confirmed UV damage triggers melanin overproduction, suggesting that the antioxidant power of green tea could effectively reduce hyperpigmentation and lighten the skin. 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.

It regulates melanin levels

Another benefit of green tea for skin whitening is reducing melanin formation, aiding in evening skin tone and improving 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.

It seems 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 shown 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.

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 by 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 niacinamidekojic acid, or vitamin C to boost your results. And never forget your sunscreen!

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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