Camellia Sinensis

Camellia Sinensis

Green tea is considered as a superfood. The benefits it provides for the human body have been well identified and well documented. It was just a matter of time before it was researched for any benefits it might have on the skin. These benefits were found on a green tea variety called the camellia sinensis. Since there is no use in separating the varieties, it has become known as green tea extract.

Skincare is provided by compounds that among their other properties can provide anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Green tea has been found to incorporate both effects along with an anti-carcinogenic effect which is very useful to an overall protection from the effects of the sun and its radiation.

The properties

As far as dermatology and cosmetology are concerned the beneficial properties in reference to the anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects are offered by the concentration of polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (called EGCG in abbreviation). The polyphenols of this category allow the skin to react after it has been exposed to UV radiation. The natural reaction of the immune system is to get suppressed after such an exposure. EGCG inhibits this suppression and allows for an increase of the production of amino acids and enzymes (glytathione and catalase mainly) to recover from any damage.

The anti-inflammatory effect is a bit more complicated to explain. EGCG acts indirectly as a preventer of the breakdown of collagen by quenching the free radicals induced to the skin by UV radiation. The same polyphenols have been found to reduce redness and irritation associated with rosacea. Furthermore, it has been found to work cumulatively with other substances that provide similar properties.

Scientific documentation

Unfortunately all studies that have been published in reference to the effects of green tea extract on the skin are limited to repairing the damage caused by UV radiation and the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The effects on the disappearance of wrinkles, fine lines and all the other sings of the aging process are sort of deduced based on the effects of other similar anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories.

In the single study conducted in 2005 the results were rather conflicting. The subjects were women with substantial signs of photoaging. Half of them were treated for 8 weeks with a green tea supplementation and the other half with a face cream based on green tea. While there were no visible reductions in the photoaging effects, the biopsies showed that all the subjects experienced a substantial improvement in the elastic tissue content of their skin.

This may just imply that more than 8 weeks are required to render results in the appearance and that green tea works slowly and from the inside, i.e. creating a healthier basis upon which to base a healthier epidermis. They may also indicate that the extract was thrown into deep waters and there is only so much it can do when the damage of photoaging is extensive. It may work better in cases where this damage is in the initial stages.

Wide usage

Cosmetic products are not required to undergo thorough testing before getting released to the general public. The properties of green tea have been taken advantage of by almost every cosmetic manufacturer in almost every kind of skincare product. Moisturizers, lotions, creams, shampoos, conditioners, hair dyes, cleansers have been found to contain concentrations of green tea extracts as low as 4%.Releasing so many products without proper assurances about safety and suitability can be considered as problematic.

On the other hand green tea has been widely used in many recipes for homemade remedies and cosmetics and there have been no reports of any serious or significant side-effects, irritations or problems with sensitive skin. This fact along with the relevant studies published (as required) by the manufacturers in reference to the in house research conducted on their compounds provides for a rather comforting feeling that green tea extract is safe for short and long term use.

Nevertheless, more research is required by more scientific methods and by independent and unbiased organizations so that there can be no doubt that not only green tea extract does provide what it promises but it is also safe to use without anything more than nominal precautions.

Conclusion

Green tea is a widely circulated natural product. There has been no doubt in reference to the benefits it provides in its drinkable form. Recently it has even been introduced as a means of weight reduction. Its anti-carcinogenic effects are evident.

What is not evident however, is whether it can provide the same level of beneficial results for the skin. Some say that there is no reason to doubt that it does. Some other debate that it may provide benefits but not at the levels required to make a significant contribution to the cosmetic industry other than working from the inside and providing some much needed support so that other more efficient chemicals may do the work they are supposed to.

Even if this is the only beneficial property that is determined appropriately as the end result of using green tea on the skin, it is a property that should be explored and taken advantage of. The stability of a structure is not provided by the walls and the windows. It is provided by the steel rods hidden inside the foundation where no one can see them and the frame of cement which is covered.

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