Acne occasionally leaves scars of varying depths and redness on the skin. Several cosmetic treatments possess healing properties that help to diminish these marks. It is sometimes stated that green tea extract aids in fading acne scars. But what is the actual truth of this claim?
The various types of acne scars.
We refer to a scar when the mark that appears following inflammation remains visible a year after the lesion has healed. Therefore, scars are to be distinguished from pigmented (brown) spots and erythematous (red) spots, which disappear spontaneously after a few weeks or months. Depending on the severity of the acne, scars can remain for life and be more or less numerous and more or less deep. There are two types of acne scars.
The atrophic (indented) scars : they have a sunken appearance in the skin, the size and depth of which can vary. These scars can present in three different forms: "ice pick" or "V" shaped, narrow and deep, "U" or "crater" shaped, rather wide, shallow, with sharp or rounded edges, and "boxcar", wide and deep. They appear when a wound does not heal properly and the connective tissue that forms is insufficient.
The hypertrophic scars (raised) : slightly swollen, they exhibit a kind of skin tissue outgrowth. This is due to the formation of a second layer that has come to cover the scar tissues during the healing phase of the acne spot, corresponding to an excess of collagen.
Green tea to fade acne scars?
Green tea is a well-known natural alternative to traditional medications. Whether consumed as a beverage or incorporated into a cosmetic treatment, it contributes to the health of the body and skin and possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. These are primarily derived from its high content of polyphenols, compounds formerly known as "plant tannins". The green tea extract is often included in treatments for acne-prone skin due to the multiple benefits it provides. By alleviating the inflammatory symptoms of acne, it indeed reduces the risks of difficult scarring.
However, regarding the effect of green tea extract on already formed acne scars, the existing evidence today is limited. No scientific study has so far shown that this ingredient can fade them. The only elements that allow us to consider this hypothesis are indirect, they are the protective properties of green tea extract on collagen and elastin fibres, essential for the formation of scar tissue and proper skin healing. This botanical extract is indeed capable of inhibiting metalloproteinases, involved in the proteolytic degradation of extracellular matrix proteins, and collagenase, responsible for breaking the peptide bonds of collagen. Therefore, we can presume an action of green tea extract on atrophic scars, resulting from a lack of connective tissue, although the lack of evidence currently calls for caution.
Acne Scars: How to Diminish Them?
Several proven methods exist to diminish acne scars. These include cosmetic treatments using fruit acids (A.H.A., B.H.A. and P.H.A.), microdermabrasion, laser therapy, radiofrequency, local corticosteroid injections, and microneedling. However, it is important to understand that their effectiveness partly depends on the severity of the acne. The more severe the acne, the more challenging the scars will be to fade.
The best course of action is therefore to prevent their occurrence by avoiding touching your spots as much as possible. Indeed, popping your spots can damage the small veins, glands, and surrounding tissues, which increases the risk of scarring. We also advise you not to delay in consulting a dermatologist so that they can prescribe a treatment to eliminate acne. The later this treatment is initiated, the greater the risk of scarring.
KUKULA-KOCH W. & al. Applications of Tea ( Camellia sinensis) and its Active Constituents in Cosmetics. Molecules (2019).
SANGHA A. M. Managing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in patients with acne. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (2021).