The beauty of tea.
Several articles in Tea International over the past three years have reported on the current research program, funded by the tea industry and the FAO, which has been looking into the possible health benefits of black tea consumption. In particular, the program has focused on black tea's effects against blood cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, and cancer. As Illtyd Lewis states in his article on the FAO project (June 1997 T&c), the aim of the research is "to confirm that the positive evidence of tea's health benefits - mainly centered so far on green tea - can also be confirmed for black tea."
For a number of years, it has been recognized that green tea is a healthy drink with a number of medicinal properties. In Japan's Kamakura era (1191-1333), the monk Eisai wrote in his book Maintaining Health by Drinking Tea, published in 1211, "Tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health. Tea has an extraordinary power to prolong life. Anywhere a person cultivates tea, long life will follow." And modem scientific research has confirmed that the different components of green tea do, indeed, have a number of healthy effects. The Japan Tea Exporters Association publishes a pamphlet entitled 'Green Tea and Human Health,' written by Dr. Itaro Oguni, Professor of Food Science at the University of Shizuoka, which claims, "The catechins in green tea reduce the incidence of cancer, reduce tumors, reduce oxidation by active oxygen, lower blood cholesterol, inhibit high blood pressure and blood sugar, kill bacteria, kill influenza virus; the caffeine in green tea stimulates wakefulness and acts as a diuretic; the vitamin C helps reduce stress and prevents flu; the vitamin B complex aids carbohydrate metabolism; the flavonoids strengthen blood vessel walls; polysaccharides lower blood sugar; the fluoride prevents cavities in teeth; and the vitamin E acts as an anti-oxidant and regulates aging."
In view of this, is it any wonder that the manufacturers of body creams, sun blocks, and cosmetics should show an interest in the beneficial effects that tea can have on body cells (inside our bodies) and apply the idea to the outside as well?
Over the years, beauty advice and general health tips have included such suggestions as rinsing oily skin with cold tea to prevent a break-out of spots; placing cold used teabags or cotton wool pads soaked in cold tea on the eyes as a refreshing compress; rinsing newly washed hair with cooled medium strength tea to add richness to the natural color; swabbing sunburned skin with cold tea to reduce redness and help the healing process; and soaking tired feet in a solution of tea.
The components of green tea that most interest the cosmetics industry are the anti-oxidant flavonoids which can help to defend the skin from 'free radicals,' the oxidants that cause cell damage and premature aging. Our bodies produce oxidants in the everyday course of our lives, in particular during times of stress, and we encounter more all the time in the environment - in pollution, cigarette smoke, and the sun's harmful rays. Anti-oxidants help to neutralize the effects of these oxidants, and therefore help protect the body cells.
An article in a recent issue of Soap, Perfumery & Cosmetics, stated, "Experts are predicting that the whole anti-oxidant story will soon be further supported by flavonoids, a group of ingredients derived from the natural defense systems of plants." According to the magazine, one group of flavonoids (procyanidines) "controls and protects against enzymes which destroy and reduce the effectiveness of connective tissues which supply blood to the skin." Green tea and grape seed extract are so far apparently the most commonly used flavonoids in skin care products, sun protectors, moisturizers, night creams, and anti-aging treatments.
A number of current anti-aging moisturizers and sun-block creams contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), whose job it is to help remove dead skin cells and allow new cells to move more quickly toward the skin's surface, thereby thickening the skin, reducing wrinkles, and giving a younger, cleaner look. The earliest of these products included AHAs to act as skin buffers and pH adjusters in moisturizers and lotions, but some were found to cause irritation.
After further research, concentrations of AHAs have now been reduced, and in some products, tea has been added as an extra ingredient by some manufacturers to help counter any negative side effects. A recent issue of Manufacturing Chemist carried an article which discussed the new formulas and included the following statement: "It is claimed that the green tea content reduces irritation, and the AHA complex stimulates cell renewal, leading to improved skin texture." And a 1995 advertisement for Actiphyte Japanese Green Tea Concentrate, marketed to the cosmetics industry by Active Organics, states, "Caffeine and other xanthines present in this extract help reduce skin irritation caused by alpha-hydroxy acids and other ingredients. In addition, polyphenols (catechins) act as effective anti-oxidant agents to scavenge free radicals. This extract potentates the activity of sunscreens, permitting lower use levels of screening agents."
Revlon's Ultima 11 Procollagen Anti-Aging Complex Especially For Eyes is one of the new products that contains basic green tea extract. Revlon says it was "formulated to help solve the aging problems of the delicate eye area ... fortifying skin structure to help reduce wrinkling, and providing protection against environmental damage." The Body Shop, in their relentless search for beneficial natural ingredients from around the globe, has also added tea to some of the products in their new colorings range. Press material explains that "it has been found that one of the two major pharmacologically active groups of chemicals in green tea, the polyphenols, are powerful anti-oxidants more than 20 times the strength of Vitamin E."
A browse through advertisements on the Internet reveals a further range of products that list tea as an ingredient: Alovoir's toners and skin gels; Aubrey Original's Green Tea and Clay Rejuvenating Face Mask, Green Tea & Gingko Facial Toner, Daily Moisturizer, and Soy Miracle Ultimate Anti-Oxidant (which combines natural Vitamin E, green tea, pine bark extract, grape seed, and grape skin extract to "help fight free radicals and cell damage linked to poor health and premature aging"); Guinot of Paris's Green Tea shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, anti-aging lotions, toners, cleansers, and cellulite and body contouring lotions.
Tea features quite prominently in a variety of anti-cellulite products. Cellulite is mainly a female problem, and is caused by an accumulation of fatty tissue under the skin around the hips, thighs, and knees. It is often linked to problems of circulation and the retention of water and toxins within the body tissues. Treatments include applications of, and massage with gels, creams, and muds that help to activate the metabolism of fats, improving blood flow and dispersing the undesirable deposits. Caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine are the ingredients most commonly found in anti-cellulite products, and these are, of course, found in tea, cacao, and coffee. Yerba Mate is also used as it contains an extremely high concentration of theophylline. The Internet carries an advertisement for "Forever Young Body Perfecting Lotion," which contains Paraguay tea and theophylline conjugates. The ad says the product can "facilitate penetration of theophylline into and through the skin, all the way down to the fat tissues, which are special cells known as lipocytes or adipcytes that contain fat." Some women believe that they do not suffer from cellulite today because they used tea to color their legs during wartime when nylon stockings were hard to come by.
An additional reason for the growing interest in tea as a base ingredient for cosmetics and skin care lotions may be the result of an increased wariness of synthetic products. Manufacturers are searching further and further afield in order to appeal to customers' desire for natural ingredients, and current popular plant extracts that are often listed on product packages include jojoba, tea tree oil (oil of Melaleuca Alternifolia Terpinen and nothing to do with Camellia sinensis), and aloe vera. But more unusual ingredients are also attracting attention - ginger is thought to promote circulation, turmeric has antiseptic qualities, pomegranate rind and root have astringent and cooling properties, fenugreek can help to purify the skin, saffron and sandalwood improve the complexion, and sesame seed oil is an excellent tonic for hair and skin.
Interestingly, it is not just skin care products and cosmetics that are relying on a tea content to work their miracles. Perfumiers, too, are including it in some of the most expensive and fashionable designer scents. Bulgari's Eau Parfumee "is born from the culture of tea and the more profound sense of the rituals tied to it, combining the finest aromas of tea with distinctly Mediterranean fragrances." On the skin, the perfume first releases the aroma of rose, jasmine, orange blossom, and bergamot, then slowly the green tea perfume comes through "giving a truly refreshing feeling." The Eau Parfumee bath products also contain "milk of Chinese green tea, a new exclusive component especially created for the Bulgari products with a patented formula," which is said to "deeply moisturize the skin leaving it delicately scented." Teabags for the bath also contain green tea, which "gives the water a delicate emerald hue, increasing the relaxing effect of a hot bath."
The Bulgari women's range includes Sambac jasmine tea, and the men's Bulgari Pour Homme features "extract of Darjeeling tea, imparting a clean, crisp, and invigorating nature to the fragrance. Darjeeling was specially chosen for its aroma, which characterizes the citrusy and aquatic top notes."
Harney & Sons, the tea packer in Salisbury, Connecticut, has also created bath teabags, and their mail order catalogue tempts the home shopper with, "We at Harney Tea are lucky enough to spend our days enveloped in the fragrance of teas and herbal tisanes. Now you can experience these heavenly scents at home with our tea sachets for your bath. Natural teas, herbs, flowers, and oils blend for either an invigorating or a soothing soak." Both these blends include Japanese Sencha in their recipes and John Harney explained that the creation of the infusions was by trial and error until they arrived at something which smelled and felt good.
Calvin Klein has also turned to tea as a component for his "One" fragrance. The press release describes the scent as "naturally clean, pure, and contemporary, with a refreshingly new point of view." Bergamot, cardamom, pineapple, and papaya are blended with violet, rose, nutmeg, and jasmine - and a "green tea accord travels from top to bottom, contributing to the signature of CK One fragrance."
And although Donna Karan has not actually used tea in her latest perfume, she is marketing a Chinese Yixing tea set - a teapot in high-fired unglazed earth,beige and two cups in a simple black glazed ceramic finish and three tea blends. The connection between beauty and tea is made in their advertising material, which explains, "Performed with care, the simplest acts can balance and center us. The preparation, serving, and drinking of tea has long been one of the most soothing and satisfying of life's rituals. Slow down. Focus. Find the beauty in life's basics."
J.E. Atkinson's I Coloniali range follows the same philosophy of the "ritual of self being," and includes bath time indulgences, body and hair care products, and fragrances that use only natural ingredients. Their Refreshing Bath contains starch and green tea, while the TEA TEA fragrance "is the ideal day-spray for spring and summer men and women. The tea comes from the plantations of Ceylon and stimulates, enlivens, and quenches the thirst of the soul."
Okakura Kakuzo wrote in his Book of Tea, "Teaism is the cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence." It seems today that it is not just those addicted to drinking tea who agree with his wisdom, but also those who strive to create products that will enhance everyday beauty in human existence.
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|Title Annotation:||tea in health and beauty products|
|Publication:||Tea & Coffee Trade Journal|
|Date:||Jul 1, 1997|
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