Wearing a mask or face covering is the most effective tool we have right now to stop the spread of COVID-19, because according to studies, wearing a mask can reduce the risk of infection by as much as 65%.
So, wearing a mask is a no-brainer, but there is a downside when it comes to our skin. The friction caused by fabric constantly rubbing against your face, as well as the hot, re-circulated, moist air creating the perfect breeding conditions for bacteria, all give rise to breakouts, blackheads, and skin irritation when we wear masks for prolonged periods of time. Sure, "maskne", as it’s been dubbed, is a small price to pay for lowering the rate transmission of COVID-19, but wouldn’t it be nice not to have to pay this price?
While skincare products like salicylic acid cleansers and retinol night creams go a long way in fighting acne, a more holistic method such as drinking tea is also a great way to supplement your typical routine. These liquid elixirs, like antibacterial spearmint tea or anti-inflammatory green tea with honey have no side-effects (if had in moderation), and won't dry out or irritate the skin like other topicals can do.
Before we talk about the things which help to clarify skin, I want to talk about those that may not. There have been many studies which prove that lactose, plus the chemicals and preservatives found in milk, are linked to breakouts. I advise my clients who have active acne to eschew regular milk in tea to an alternative like almond, soy or oat, or leave the milk out altogether and opt for herbal teas instead. You should also consider swapping sugar with honey, which has a low glycaemic index.
Here is a breakdown of the skin benefits for different types of teas:
GREEN TEA: To help regulate oil and bacteria.
Green tea contains substances called catechins. These plant-based compounds, or polyphenols, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties. They also attack free radicals. Green tea is especially rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol that has shown to improve acne and oily skin. Use green tea for acne treatment.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties, EGCG lowers lipid levels and is anti-androgenic, making it effective at reducing sebum (oil) excretions in the skin. Excess sebum can clog pores and increase bacterial growth, which can then cause hormonal acne.
How to brew:
Depending on whether you are using loose leaf green tea or tea bags, brew from 1-3 mins, no longer. Small green tea leaves generally infuse more quickly than large leaves. Set a timer for 1 minute. Taste the tea at 1 minute, and then every 30 seconds after that until it is to your liking. Add honey and a lemon slice for antioxidant and antimicrobial protection.
How to drink:
You can try drinking two to three cups of green tea a day, either hot or cold. Brew yours at home and avoid ready-made tea drinks where possible, unless their label indicates how much tea is actually in them. Some of these products contain more sugar than green tea!
BLACK TEA: To help speed-up skin-healing.
If maskne blemishes are left unchecked, they may lead to long-term scarring, discolouration, and even repeated re-infection of the same congested pores over and over again. As well as using topical oil control pads daily after your cleanse, I suggest brewing a hot black tea.
Rich in antioxidants, freshly brewed black tea helps to accelerate the skin’s healing process, increasing its repair and regeneration mode, rejuvenating it from the inside out. By flushing away toxins, drinking black tea can reduce the appearance of blemishes. It also works to subside inflammation and stimulate collagen production.
A cup of hot black tea every day will give you naturally glowing skin and an even tone for days. Choose from Darjeeling, aka the “champagne of black tea”, Assam, Ceylon, Lapsang Souchong.
How to brew:
For best flavour, bring spring or freshly drawn filtered water to a boil, add the tea bag or loose leaf, and steep for 5 minutes. I don't recommend steeping any longer than this because the subsequent level of caffeine will be quite high.
How to drink:
If you'd like to forego milk for lactose-intolerance or hormonal reasons, then there are ways to make your brew more interesting and healthy to help reduce maskne. Try adding lemon verbena or fresh sprigs of lemon thyme for acidity and antimicrobial effect. Ginger will help boost immunity, and the little-tried method of adding raspberries or blackberries during the 5 minute brew time will act as vitamin shots in your tea.
AYURVEDIC HERBAL TEAS: To target multiple maskne and acne issues with balanced blends.
If you, like me, prefer milk-free teas with powerful aromas and serious skin health benefits centred around 5000-year-old ayurvedic principles, then look no more.
The Indian healing art of Ayurveda is based on the five elements of nature and the three individual doshas (energies) of each person, i.e. vatta, pitta, kapha. The Ayurvedic teaching aims to balance your natural energies, aiding your physical and mental well-being. A perfect philosophy for creating blends of teas to promote harmony from the inside-out, and strengthening the body to fight back against a maskne attack!
Ayurvedic teas are normally made up of a careful blend of various herbs and botanicals to stimulate various skin health centres within the body. Depending on your taste palate and choice of aroma, the blend can act as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, detoxifying skin saviour, whilst improving gut health, as well as boosting your metabolism and immune system.
How to brew:
Depending on the base leaves, steep for no longer than 5 minutes.
How to drink:
Choose hibiscus to help with inflammation and moringa to provide the body with vital nutrients. Adding dried rose petals adds to the aromatic taste. One of my go-to brands for superior ayurvedic blends is ASMI AYURVEDA, for their sustainably produced and packaged (they come in reusable chic tins) pre-blended selections. Try their purify blend to aid detoxification and support “inside-out” skin health.
Keyword: Celebrity facialist in LA
Be skin smart.
Words by Adeela Crown.