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Acne: What Green Tea Extract Brings to the Skin.

Acne is a skin condition affecting nearly 80% of teenagers and young adults between the ages of 12 and 20, significantly impacting the quality of life of those who suffer from it. Several solutions exist to alleviate the symptoms. Among the most favored natural ingredients against acne is green tea extract. Discover its benefits for acne-prone skin.

Published June 6, 2023, updated on February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read

A Closer Look at Acne.

Acneis a skin disease that can affect the face, neck, back, or chest. It manifests as the appearance of red or white pimples, or even nodules or cysts in the case of severe acne. Generally, acne results from a overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands. Although it is a substance essential for maintaining skin hydration, an excess of sebum is also harmful as it can cause the obstruction of skin pores. Unable to drain, the sebum remains in the hair-sebaceous follicle and promotes the appearance of imperfections.

Furthermore, this oily environment is conducive to the bacterial proliferation - particularly that of the bacterium Cutibacterium acnes. This microorganism, naturally present in the skin, digests the triglycerides in sebum and produces free fatty acids, which are responsible for inflammatory phenomena in the sebaceous glands. Finally, the process of skin desquamation is disrupted when one suffers from acne. This leads to an accumulation of dead cells on the skin's surface, which can clog the pores.

How does green tea extract work against acne?

The green tea extract (INCI: Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract) is derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The use of green tea dates back thousands of years in China, where it originates. According to a legend, one day in the year 2737 B.C., the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was sitting under a tea tree and boiling water when suddenly, a leaf fell into his cup. Intrigued by the aroma, he decided to taste this beverage and was captivated by its flavor. In addition to its taste qualities, green tea extract has interesting properties for the skin and is often used in cosmetics, particularly for relieving acne.

A recent study has indeed shown that the application of a gel containing green tea extract, bamboo extract, and 5% lactic acid was beneficial in combating acne. For two weeks, 30 women aged 19 to 23 suffering from severe acne underwent five sonophoresis sessions per week, accompanied by the application of the gel. Sonophoresis is a technique that uses ultrasound to increase the permeability of the skin and facilitate the diffusion of molecules. On average, scientists estimated that the severity of acne had decreased from 21.50 to 14.73, using the international GAGS (Global Acne Grading System). Moreover, out of the 30 women, 25 transitioned from severe acne to moderate acne. The properties of the green tea extract, described below, thus contributed to alleviating this condition.

  • The green tea extract has mattifying properties.

    Several researchers have demonstrated that green tea extract has a sebum-regulating effect, which is beneficial for individuals suffering from acne. Indeed, a decrease in sebum production is associated with a lower risk of pore obstruction, and therefore, blemishes.

    A study notably followed ten individuals with oily skin. These individuals applied a cream containing 3% green tea extract to their cheeks daily for 8 weeks. This resulted in a 60% reduction in sebum production in that area. If we delve into the biological mechanisms at work, it appears that this result is due to the catechins present in the green tea extract. These polyphenols are indeed capable ofinhibiting the activity of 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme catalyzes the transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, which in turn stimulates the synthesis of sebum by the sebaceous glands.

  • The green tea extract has anti-inflammatory activity.

    Catechins can also function by reducing the inflammation of the sebaceous glands caused by acne. These molecules indeed decrease the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukins 6 and 8 (IL-6 and IL-8) and the tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), which are responsible for pathological phenomena. Furthermore, catechins reduce the activity of the nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB), a regulatory protein for several genes encoding for inflammation proteins.

  • The green tea extract has an anti-bacterial effect.

    Green tea extract acts against certain bacteria, including Cutibacterium acnes, the bacterium involved in acne. Its antibacterial properties are largely due to its polyphenols, particularly catechins. These molecules appear to be capable of preventing pathogenic bacteria from binding to the host cell membrane. Furthermore, researchers have suggested that catechins can inhibit quorum sensing, which is the communication between bacteria.


  • TJAMPAKASARI C. & al. Antimicrobial activity of green tea extract against isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and multi-drug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine (2013).

  • WILCZYNSKI S. & al. The Effects of Green Tea ( Camellia sinensis), Bamboo Extract ( Bambusa vulgaris) and Lactic Acid on Sebum Production in Young Women with Acne Vulgaris Using Sonophoresis Treatment. Healthcare (2022).

  • FERNANDEZ-CAMPOS F. & al. Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Quorum Sensing Effect of Camellia sinensis Callus Lysate for Treatment of Acne. Current issues in molecular biology (2023).


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