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Acne myths debunked

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‘Girl claims green tea cleared up her acne’. ‘Spearmint tea, the acne miracle cure’. ‘reduce your acne by 50% with tea’.

You’ve probably seen the headlines. It seems everywhere you look these days, from the blogs to the magazines, someone is claiming herbal tea ‘cured’ their acne whilst someone else raves about the benefits of detox. But is it just sensationalist headlines and myths, or could a nice hot cuppa actually help your acne? We love a natural approach to skincare, so we decided to do a little research of our own on and wanted to share it with you. So, grab a cup of tea and take a look at what we found.

Spearmint tea

Arguably the internet's favourite herbal tea acne cure. We found a whole host of people – from Facebook groups, to Reddit threads – waxing lyrical about how they had noticed a direct link between drinking spearmint tea and an improvement in their skin.

The general consensus online seems to be that one cup of spearmint tea a day can help with hormonal acne in particular. But why is this? It could be to do with spearmints insulin regulating properties. Insulin levels can be the cause of an acne break out. High levels of insulin can trigger the production of IGF-1 (read more about this pesky pimple making hormone here) and cause oily, breakout prone skin.

Some studies have also shown that spearmint could regulate testosterone levels in women which might be causing their hormonal acne. This does mean that spearmint tea probably isn't a great option for men. Sorry fellas.

Rooibos / Red bush

The chances are, deep in the depths of a kitchen cupboard, your parents have an untouched box of Rooibos tea. Well, it might be time to crack it open and pop on the kettle. The flavonoids (lovely plant pigments) in Rooibos help regulate acne causing pathogens.

An extra plus? Rooibos contains free radical fighting superoxide dismutase, so it could even help you fight the signs of aging! Poor us a cup whilst you’re at it.

Green tea

The favourite of nearly every health guru, Instagram yogi and beauty vlogger, it seems like there’s nothing green tea can’t do. But when it comes to treating acne, the hype around green tea might be valid.

It’s packed with antioxidants. Like, an insane amount. Tocopherols, carotenoids, EGCG, ascorbic acid and selenium are all in a cup of green tea. Antioxidants love our skin and our skin loves them as they regulate free radicals. Green tea is also an anti-inflammatory so it’s great for calming any redness or swelling brought on by an outbreak.

If you don’t like the taste, there also plenty of topical treatments that contain green tea, or you can make your own:

Simply soak a few cotton pads in completely cooled green tea, and massage into the skin for a few minutes. Let your skin dry out completely before rinsing with warm water.

You can even make a great toner with green tea as green tea have been proven to help treat large pores (the ones that are most likely to clog).

Just mix a ¼ cup of cold green tea with the juice of one lemon and apply to the face with cotton pads. Leave for 5 minutes before rinsing and moisturising. The astringent and antibacterial properties of the lemon juice will help reduce the overproduction of oil.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea featured on nearly all of the lists we found, which was a little surprising. Chamomiles primary benefit for skin is high levels of quercetin. This helps protect our skin from the sun (which is great) but not necessarily linked to acne. The only link we can think of between chamomile tea and acne is that it’s a great pre-bedtime drink. A great night's sleep is can have wonderous effects on balancing your hormones which might help hormonal acne sufferers. We’re not quite so convinced on this one.

Burdock root tea

Maybe the ultimate detox tea, Burdock is known to detox the liver, kidneys, gallbladder and lymphatic system. So, what does that have to do with acne? Well, these organs are all responsible for dealing with toxins. If they become overloaded, they trigger our sweat and sebaceous glands to try and get rid of them – leading to oily breakout prone skin.

In summary

So overall, when it comes to tea treatments, it seems there might some real weight behind the claims. But, whilst it can’t hurt to try them out, we wouldn’t recommend dropping your current skin care routine. We would treat tea as an extra weapon in your arsenal in the fight for healthy skin, rather than a miracle cure.

Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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