green tea: benefits for the skin?

I have been asked for my opinion on reports that green tea is beneficial when applied to the skin and benefits of bathing in green tea or use as a base cream for moisturising.

I have to confess that the concept of a green tea bath was new to me till I read about it after moving to the west. However the concept of a herb bath is not new to Chinese. In fact there is a tradition in parts of the country that a woman should not have a cool bath for 30 days after giving birth. Instead, they make up a herbal bath they believe will help her recovery.

As someone with a medical degree but not necessarily expert in cosmetics, my views follow:

  • I believe green tea is very good for damaged body cells.
  • I am dubious as to the ability of our skin cells to absorb active ingredients in green tea.
  • We understand that the anti-oxidants in green tea reach body cells through the blood system. Our skin cells (especially the top layer skin cells) however are not designed to absorb whatever is applied to them into the blood stream. ( we would be easily contaminated by all we touched if this were the case).
  • Therefore, whilst I know the goodness of green tea will get to body cells through drinking them, there is no guarantee that  skin will absorb these benefits via  direct contact.