There is a myriad of claims out there connecting tea and skin health. A lot of these have to do with the high levels of antioxidants in white tea and green tea, especially as “antioxidants” has become more of a buzzword in the anti-aging and wrinkle prevention industries. The links between tea and skin health are frequent enough to have made an appearance in several articles on this blog (here and here, for example).

Got sunburn? Get tea!

Got sunburn? Get tea!

Recently, I stumbled across another case that contributes to the tea-for-skin-health-claims movement. This one stood out as a little different; instead of the benefits coming from drinking tea, they come from applying tea directly to the skin. This may not be as crazy as it sounds, since the blog article deals specifically with using tea to help reduce the effects of sunburn rather than increasing general skin health. It comes from SustainLane, an online community for people interesting in “living healthy lives,” and the basic idea is as follows: apply black tea to your sunburn and let it dry without washing it off. The intention is for it to be absorbed into your skin where it helps to heal the burn (you can find the original blog article here). The author’s experience was that it substantially reduced even their severe sunburn—quite an impressive feat, as those of you who have experienced the lingering effects of bad sunburn will know.

But does it work? And what is the reasoning behind this claim? A quick Google search revealed that it is certainly not the only online article about “natural” health and beauty tips that involves applying black tea to the skin. While this doesn’t prove anything, it does at least suggest that someone else found this method helpful.

But, again, does it work? When all is said and done, this is not really the most relevant question; what works for one person may not work for another. Every body is different. I do not discount the experiences of individuals where black tea has helped their sunburn, but I would also not expect it to work for everyone.

What is perhaps more interesting about this example is that it demonstrates the way in which tea continues to be perceived as infinitely beneficial for health. It really has come to hold almost an almost mythical status. As well it should. But whether this is because of potential health benefits, or because of the wonderful epicurean, social, and cultural experiences it can provide, I will leave up to you.

Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician for your particular needs.

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