Matcha Green Tea for Beauty

While its history dates back to 12th century Japan, matcha, the powdered form of green tea {Camellia sinensis}, seems to be enjoying a resurgence today as a very popular hot or iced beverage. The name matcha actually means “powdered tea,” and you will find this vibrant-green ingredient in tea blends, cookies, smoothies, lattes, noodle dishes, ice cream or enjoyed on its own steeped in water. It has also made its way into commercial beauty products, providing a range of benefits that help us look our best.

Matcha Miracle

While matcha comes from the same plant as green tea, it’s grown in a slightly different manner. Growers cover the tea plants with shade cloths before harvesting, which prompts the plants to produce new leaves that have exceptional flavor. These new-growth leaves are then picked, steamed, dried in cold storage, and ultimately ground into the striking, fine green powder we see sold in tea shops, natural food stores, and some grocers.

When you make a traditional cup of green tea, you infuse or steep the leaves in hot water, then strain and drink. Because the leaves are powdered, matcha requires no straining – you drink the entire tea leaf, and this provides a more potent form of green tea bursting with antioxidants called polyphenols that are well known for fighting heart disease and some cancers as well as regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.

In topical body care products such as cleansers and toners, matcha continues to offer health benefits, specifically with its antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content. Vitamins B2 and E are both essential for healthy skin, and the powder’s anti-inflammatory properties soothe and improve troubled complexions, making it a featured ingredient in many commercial anti-aging products. It’s also a natural cleanser, boosting skin’s appearance to look fresher and healthier. If you suffer from skin conditions such as acne, a solution of strong green tea will help, especially when used at night after washing your face.

When purchasing matcha, make sure to buy a good quality, organic powder from a reputable source. Read the label; it should contain only Camellia sinensis. When you use finely ground matcha, you use the entire green leaf, so it’s worth the extra expense. Here are some recipes for you to enjoy at home.

Matcha Tea Facial Mask

This cleansing mask works for all skin types. It contains matcha and green clay, both useful in deep-cleaning skin to help it retain more moisture.

  • 1 tsp matcha
  • 2 tsp pure water
  • 1 tsp green clay or baking soda
  • 1 tsp honey or agave

Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl until you have a smooth, creamy mixture {add more water if needed}. To use: Spread on clean skin and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm then cool water and pat skin dry. You can follow up with some cool green tea as a finishing rinse. Yield: 1 ounce.

Soothing Matcha Lotion Bars

These rich balms target rough skin spots such as hands, feet, knees, and elbows. Melt together the ingredients into stick form for a packaging-free option, or make them in small soap or candy molds and store in little tins. These matcha-infused bars also help with bug bites or small cuts.

  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or shea butter
  • 1/4 cup beeswax
  • 1 Tbls matcha

Place all the ingredients in a heat-resistant container or bowl and set inside a water bath. Gently heat the mixture, stirring, until the butter, oil, and wax melt and the mixture is fully mixed. Pour into a small mold or large lip balm tube and let cool completely until solid. To use: Rub or massage into rough skin spots or use after showering om warm skin. Yield: 8 ounces.

Detoxing Matcha Bath Salts

Soaking in natural salts like Epsom helps relieve sore muscles and promotes a good night’s sleep. Green tea serves as a helpful detoxifying, anti-inflammatory ingredient, and the addition of dried lavender buds in this recipe makes the perfect evening soak. If you want to avoid having to clean out the buds from your tub or drain, place the whole mixture inside a muslin tea bag, or tie it up in a piece of cotton fabric.

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup Epsom salts
  • 1 Tbls matcha
  • 1 tsp dried lavender buds

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to mix. Pour into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. To use: Pour 1/2 cup into your bath as you fill the tub or place 1/2 cup of the mixture inside a muslin tea bag and toss into the bath to dissolve. Yield: 16 ounces.

Matcha Bath Tablets

Because they contain a concentrated amount of skin and body care ingredients in a convenient form, bath tablets or “bath bombs” have become very popular. You simply pop the tablet in your tub {or a footbath} and it dissolves into a soothing soak. Adding green tea powder to your mixture provides a calming and cleansing effect on your skin, and its powerful antioxidants will help soothe and heal.

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid powder
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 Tbls matcha
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • Essential oils {optional}

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave or on the stovetop. {You can add a few drops of essential oil to the melted oil for scent.} Slowly add to the dry ingredients and mix well; you will have a mixture that looks like wet sand. Next, pack the mixture into a small mold {measuring cups, muffin tins, and ice cube trays all work well}. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then unmold and set on a cotton dishcloth or ceramic tray. Let dry overnight. To use: Drop in a full tub of warm water and let dissolve. For a footbath or smaller soak, make smaller tablets or break larger ones in half. Yield: 16 ounces.

Green Tea Sugar Scrub

Matcha green tea is perfect for energizing and cleansing the skin, and all skin types will benefit from this soothing scrub full of natural oil and refreshing citrus. A good skin scrub will cleanse the skin of surface debris and dead skin cells, allowing your skin to breathe and retain more moisture.

  • 1 cup of raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup camellia oil or sweet almond oil
  • 1 Tbls matcha
  • 1 tsp fresh orange zest

In a small bowl, place all the ingredients and stir well until mixed. Spoon into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. To use: Massage a small amount into damp skin and rinse with warm water. This is best done in the tib or shower. You may want to stand on a towel, as the oils can make shower tiles slippery. Yield: 8 ounces.

Green Tea Skin Toner

As simple as creating a great cup of tea, this skin toner provides skin-protecting and beautifying benefits. Natural beauty estheticians will often recommend a green tea rinse for those suffering from acne or a troubled complexion because of its healing and antibacterial properties.

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp matcha

In a small ceramic or glass bowl, place green tea leaves or matcha powder. Pour the boiling water over the tea and let it sit until the mixture completely cools. Strain the liquid and pour into a clean container. To use: Apply to clean skin with a cotton pad or spray bottle. Do not rinse. Yield: 8 ounces.

Camellia Oil

New popular cooking and body care oil is Camellia oil or “tea seed oil,” which is simply green tea oil. It comes from the seed of the Camellia sinensis plant. You may see it listed on commercial beauty products. It is also a popular cooking oil in southern China. Shop for this oil online or at local Asian food markets.

Green Tea and Healthy Skin

Green tea/matcha has become a popular ingredient in many commercial and homemade beauty products, thanks to its many health and beauty benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Studies have shown that drinking and applying green tea to your skin helps fight skin cancer.
  • Due to its high content of a class of polyphenols called catechins, it works as an anti-inflammatory ingredient to reduce skin irritation, redness, and swelling. Try a soothing mask of green tea and cucumber juice to calm a bad sunburn or insect bites.
  • An antibacterial, green tea kills systemic bacterial inflammation. In the evening use a strong infusion of green tea as a toner after cleansing. {do not rinse off}.
  • Vitamins B2 and Vitamin E in green tea help your body maintain collagen, making skin appear younger and firmer.
  • It has caffeine and tannins that reduce puffiness under the eye area to relieve tired skin. To refresh and renew, lie down for 10 to 15 minutes with two cool tea bags or cotton pads soaked in tea.
  • Use green tea to cleanse your scalp as an after-shampoo rinse – it may help promote new hair growth as well.

The Perfect Cup of Matcha

We know that drinking matcha can improve physical health, but it can also provide emotional and spiritual benefits as well. To create the “perfect” cup, it takes almost zen-like attention to detail that can act as a form of meditation. Focusing on the process and ritual of preparing tea can reduce stress and release those “feel good” hormones. A good cup of matcha is made a bit differently than the usual cuppa. Here are some easy-to-follow steps. Make sure to use top-quality tea {that you can reasonably afford}, as some cheaper versions can contain contaminants.

  1. Heat 1/2 cup of water to boiling and set aside.
  2. Add 1/2 cup matcha to a ceramic bowl or cup.
  3. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cool water to the tea and mix well until smooth.
  4. Add the hot water to the bowl and stir with a small whisk or fork until you have a nice frothy and creamy mixture.
  5. Add cream or sugar if desired, and take a moment to enjoy the aroma before sipping.