I’m in a serious and committed relationship with coffee. Though my favorite roast has yet to propose, we start mornings together and get our grind on, check in throughout the day, and on occasion, spend intense nights together making each other shake. Our relationship has always seemed solid, but my frequently broken out skin disagreed. I hit up my dad (whose skin glows) for some face love advice, and he suggested the impossible: swap coffee for green tea for better skin.
Since my dad is no skin expert, I turned to dermatologists to uncover if there’s truth behind the claim drinking green tea instead of coffee could lessen breakouts and improve my skin. Dr. Shereen Idriss of Wexler Dermatology and Dr. Sue Ann Wee at the Manhattan Center for Dermatology spilled the beans (or should I say leaves?) on the coffee vs green tea debate, and what I might notice by swapping. After all, every good relationship needs to be tested, right?
First, the accusation: Dr. Shereene Idriss tells me how, despite coffee’s health benefits, “it happens to be a strong diuretic, which in the dermatology world equates to dehydration. In turn, this leads to a buildup of toxins that cause inflammation resulting in dilated superficial capillaries, blotchy and dull skin.” Dr. Sue Ann Wee adds, “Coffee drinkers often add sugar and sweetened creamers to coffee, and this excess sugar ... can increase inflammation in the body [and] trigger acne flares." Why coffee, why.
Alternatively, green tea gets some serious
praises for its skin-loving effects. Dr. Wee shares, “Green tea [IMO] is better for your skin than
coffee mainly because it doesn’t spike cortisol like coffee (high levels
of cortisol can lead to ... aggravation of acne,
rosacea, and other skin conditions." Dr. Idriss also points out how
“[it’s] not usually consumed with creamer and therefore tends to be more
hydrating than coffee without inducing acne." Well, snap.
(Above, me happily drinking coffee in simpler times.)
Armed with some serious motivation, a ton of yummy green tea options, and a little anxiety, I decided to drink green tea instead of coffee for an entire seven days to find out what would happen to my skin. While Dr. Wee and Idriss commented that it would likely take up to a month to notice any incredibly drastic effects, I am only human and a week was the longest amount of time that sounded even remotely feasible. I know my fellow coffee addicts will understand.
And since this is a thoroughly scientific experiment, I want to point out that the photos below were all taken in similar lighting, not photoshopped or filtered, and I made sure to get seven hours of sleep each night!
An excerpt from my phone notes on day 1: “Oh
my god. This was a terrible idea. Why is morning so bright? Please tell me day
7 is tomorrow.”
But for real. The headache struggle was so real basically all day. I popped a few painkillers by 2 p.m. because I needed to function at work. Yowch.
I admit, I felt a little less groggy mentally
than the day before, but my body was so tired. I had no idea how dependent I’d
become on that jittery feeling to get me moving. A headache crept in around 10
a.m. but was intermittent the rest of the day instead of totally constant.
As for my skin, nothing to really note in a day…
My skin may wasn't insanely different yet, but I felt like my mind was definitely clearer than it normally is when I wake up and I felt freaking good...but yes, another late morning headache.
So I started my period on day 4 which meant I’d
normally be pimple-covered. But! There wasn't a single pimple on my face. What
the actual eff green tea?! Is this your doing?!
And, apologies if this is TMI y’all, but one very unexpected benefit of green tea is my bowels are waaay more regular. Apparently I don’t need my morning coffee to have my morning banyo moments.
I only had a headache for around twenty
minutes in the morning, but felt so energized the whole day. I went
to bed earlier last night, fell asleep faster, and woke up freaking pumped to
power through the day.
Also, can we stop and talk about my dark under eye circles? No, because there aren’t any!
Yes, I wore the same shirt two days in a row. Please don't judge me.
My body felt great and my skin is noticeably brighter than day 1. But, day 6 was hard.
As I mentioned earlier, coffee isn’t just caffeine. It’s romance. Like with any breakup I’ve been through, I missed the days coffee and I spent together. I started totally cheating on green tea in my mind and dreamt of grinding beans, boiling water for the perfect pour-over, and letting the kitchen fill with all that java bliss while waiting for my tea to steep. Shhh.
Dang, if my skin gets this bright and clear in a week, it’s hard to imagine what kind of difference a whole month would legit make.
I’m not ready to say bye to my sweet cup of joe for a whole 30 days (I literally made a cup of coffee right after taking this pic with zero regrets), but have no doubt the skin-improving benefits of sipping green tea would continue getting more and more noticeable. (Now, please excuse me while I get a latte because I’m an addict.)
If you want to try this experiment for yourself (which you totally should!), below are the delish green teas that got me through the week:
1. Organic Immunity SuperGreen Tea
Organic Immunity SuperGreen Tea, $13, The Republic of Tea
The hints of elderflower add a light floral touch to this earthy tea.
2. Organic Japanese Powdered Matcha Green Tea
Organic Japanese Powdered Matcha Green Tea, $18, The Tao of Tea
When you just need that extra energy kick, matcha is the way to go.
3. Organic Serenity SuperGreen Tea
Organic Serenity SuperGreen Tea, $13, The Republic of Tea
Ah sipping this one in the late afternoon was the equivalent of taking a hydrating nap. Yup. I stand by that statement.
4. Super Antioxidant Green Tea
Super Antioxidant Green Tea, $3.99, Yogi
OK, not that sipping antioxidant tea justifies skipping vitamins, but I felt so freaking pumped after each cup of this.
5. Organic Brain Boost SuperGreen Tea
Organic Brain Boost SuperGreen Tea, $13, The Republic of Tea
Sometimes you just gotta have a #boost, am I right?
Images: Lindsey Rose Black; Courtesy of Brands