We all want better hair. Whether you’re looking for gorgeous long hair, to stop hair loss, or just to add some extra gloss and shine to your current style, we all have goals. There are thousands of products marketed specifically for improving your hair and targeting every possible issue with your do.
If you care about all-natural products or need to save money, it can seem impossible to find high-quality hair products that work to improve your hair.
Fortunately, green tea is one all-natural hair treatment that can help all your hair, from follicle to tip.
In this article, we’ll talk about how green tea works, internally and externally, and how you can make the most of this all-natural treatment for your hair.
- Green Tea, Black Tea, Herbal Tea
- How to Use Green Tea for Healthy, Beautiful, Hair
- How Green Tea Works
- Topical Benefits of Green Tea
Green Tea, Black Tea, Herbal Tea
Before we get started, let’s talk tea, and why it’s important to use the right tea for your hair. When it comes to hair and skin, not all tea was created equal.
We’re going to go in reverse order, starting with herbal teas, and then work our way to green tea and why it’s the best choice for your hair.
Herbal tea is the common-use name we’ve given infusions made with any herb or plant other than the tea plant. Common herbal tea ingredients include dried berries, herb leaves, roots, and stems, dried flowers, and fruit peels.
You might also see spices, and yes, actual tea, in herbal tea mixes.
Herbal tea can be good for your hair when you drink it or used as a hair rinse. However, herbal teas usually have lots of ingredients, some of which are hidden on the label behind a proprietary blend. That makes it hard to know what you’re putting on your hair.
If there are potentially harmful herbs or ingredients in that tea’s proprietary blend, you have no way of knowing they’re there.
Additionally, green tea contains has a lot of healthy useful components herbal tea usually doesn’t. We’ll talk about those in a minute.
You can use herbal teas in addition to green tea to try and improve your hair health, but you shouldn’t replace green tea with herbal tea in rinses, drinking, or generally treating your hair.
Black tea is made from the leaves of the same plant as green tea. It’s the result of a fermenting process that changes the flavor and chemical makeup of the tea and adds caffeine. Black tea works well as an energy booster, and can even add color to henna or other all-natural hair treatments, but it can’t replace green tea for improving the health of your hair.
That’s because the fermentation process replaces and changes a lot of the most important chemical components of tea. It provides other benefits as well, but not for hair.
Black tea also has significantly higher caffeine content. As much as green tea is good for your hair, caffeine isn’t. Caffeine can dry your hair overtime used topically and can have other health effects if you consume too much.
So, while black tea has its place, hair care isn’t it.
Okay, we’ve gotten to the good stuff. Green tea has a lot of benefits for your hair. We’ll talk about this stuff in more detail shortly, but let’s start with a list of the biggest benefits of green tea.
Benefits of Green Tea (internal and external uses)
Don’t worry, when we first saw this list, we thought it was too good to be true too.
To balance things a little, green tea does have some downsides. The caffeine can dry your hair out if you apply it topically too often. Drinking too much green tea can lead to insomnia and other negative effects on your body.
But, both internal and external uses of green tea in moderation can have incredibly positive effects.
Let’s talk about how to use green tea effectively, and then we’ll discuss the details of how and why it works.
How to Use Green Tea for Healthy, Beautiful, Hair
Like all products, getting good results depends a lot on how you use green tea. Fortunately, this all-natural product is simple to use and easy to get right.
The simplest, and arguably most enjoyable, way to use green tea for your hair, is to drink it. As an added benefit, drinking green tea can help your overall health as well. It’s been used to lose weight, reduce your risk of diabetes, among other benefits.
To get the best results, however, you must brew the tea properly. Too much heat can change the chemical compounds in your tea, reducing its effectiveness for your hair.
We recommend using loose green tea if possible since you have more control over how potent you want the tea to be and can avoid other ingredients that may interfere with its function.
That said, there are plenty of wonderful bagged green teas that will also work, you should just be aware of other ingredients and know that they might change your results slightly.
A typical cup of green tea uses 1 tablespoon of the loose tea (may need slightly less depending on your preferences and the way the tea was packaged) or 1 bag of tea. You should aim to steep your tea in water from 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
The right temperature not only increases the effectiveness of the tea, but it also tastes better. If your green tea comes out bitter, chances are the water was slightly too hot.
One way to ensure you’re getting the right temperature is to buy an electric kettle with temperature control. Most will have a green tea setting, in addition to settings for black tea, herbal tea, and coffee.
Alternatively, you can boil water normally, and then wait 3-5 minutes before starting your tea steeping. That waiting time will, usually, bring your water down to approximately the right temperature.
You should also only steep the tea for a few minutes. 3-4 minutes is usually enough for a good cup of tea, and it may start to go bitter if you brew it longer than that.
You can drink 1-2 cups of green tea every day. More than 2 cups isn’t recommended because that much caffeine will probably interfere with your sleep, even if you’re drinking the tea early in the day.
Drinking green tea every day will usually benefit your hair within 2-3 weeks. Look for your hair getting shinier, less hair fall in the shower and into your brush, and faster growth.
However, since your hair operates on a several year growth cycle, it will take a few months of green tea drinking before you see the full benefit.
Make a Green Tea Hair Rinse
Another way to use green tea for your hair is to add a green tea rinse into your hair care routine.
You can add a rinse between washing your hair with shampoo and conditioning your hair, use it after you shower, or as a mild cleanser and hair refresher between showers.
A good green tea rinse is 2x-4x times stronger than the green tea you would drink but should be brewed at the same temperature. You can combine the green tea with other ingredients, like aloe vera, natural oils, essential oils, and beneficial herbs like spearmint, henna, or hibiscus, or use it on your own.
Rinses can be a simple rinse, just pouring a cup or two through your hair and gently massaging your scalp, and then rinse with plain water.
Alternatively, you can use it as a rinse, leave the green tea in your hair for a few minutes, and then rinse. That second method is commonly used as a mid-shower rinse, leaving the green tea for up to 10 minutes.
Another option is putting your rinse in a spray bottle and spritzing your hair with it without rinsing your hair out. Using it as a hair rinse spray can boost the shine of your hair and have cleansing and anti-dandruff benefits. But, leaving the green tea on your hair longer also exposes your hair to caffeine for longer. Since caffeine is drying, we recommend experimenting with this method on a small section of hair before you use it everywhere. That way you can see if your hair dries out with exposure to the caffeine.
Optionally, you can plan on using a hair mask or other deep-conditioning product to add in more moisture to counteract the drying effect of the caffeine.
Make a Hair Soak
A slightly different approach to treating your hair with green tea is creating a soak for your hair and, more importantly, your scalp, to absorb more of the beneficial chemicals all at once.
This option is most beneficial if you have a dry scalp or dandruff you want to clear up since a soak is the best way to use green tea to fight bacteria and fungi.
For a good soak, scale up the amount of green tea leaves and water until you’ll have enough to soak your hair and scalp. Ideally, a specifically designed hair washing bowl would be the most comfortable way to soak your hair and scalp in the green tea, but a large mixing bowl also works as an alternative.
To get the most benefit out of a green tea soak, you may want to enlist someone to help. An assistant can help make sure your scalp is fully immersed, or at least pour more green tea over the front of your scalp every few minutes.
You shouldn’t use a green tea soak for more than an hour at a time. Weaker tea preparations can also be used as a bath, as a general skin treatment. But, while you’ll be receiving benefits from the green tea, a bath won’t specifically help your hair unless you get hair and scalp wet as well.
How Green Tea Works
We’ll start with the internal benefits of drinking green tea.
Drink Me – The Internal Benefits of Green Tea
There are three basic ways green tea improves hair health, in addition to other great benefits: improving circulation, antioxidants, and reducing DHT in the body.
All three benefits come from the catechins, a specific class of antioxidant flavonoids found in plants, in green tea. That’s why proper brewing is important, you want to extract as many catechins as possible without extracting the tea’s natural tannins which taste bitter and make it difficult to enjoy your tea.
Green tea’s catechins, including EGCG, one of the more potent known antioxidants, are absorbed and digested primarily in the small intestine.
From there, green tea has several whole-body benefits.
Antioxidants: How They Help Your Hair
Antioxidants prevent certain types of DNA damage from occurring in your cells by reacting with and eliminating the free radicals that cause that damage. DNA damage is common. All your cells have internal mechanisms designed to prevent them from dividing and passing along problem DNA.
Antioxidants can be found in almost anything, although green tea has a higher than average concentration, and is a good source of some of the most effective types of antioxidant.
Since your hair grows from some of the most rapidly dividing cell types in your body, antioxidants are highly beneficial for your hair. They help your cells divide more rapidly and safely, and also helps the cells themselves be stronger and healthier.
That can aid in your hair growing faster. It certainly increases the strength of individual strands of your hair. The antioxidants and added nutrients in green tea also add a noticeable shine to your hair, when drunk regularly.
Hair relies on a thin connection between each hair follicle and your circulatory system. One of the more important considerations in the health of your hair is the quality of that connection. Too little blood flow and the hair follicle begins to shrink, reducing both the health and size of the hair it grows, and the hair follicle’s ability to grow hair at all.
Eventually, as the follicle shrinks, it will stop growing hair. If it continues to shrink, and the process isn’t reversed, the damage eventually becomes permanent, even if circulation is later restored.
One of the actions of green tea, especially with regular consumption, is to improve circulation. As the catechins move through your body they trigger your blood vessels to open wider, relaxing in a way that allows blood to move more freely through them.
This same property is what makes green tea a mild anti-inflammatory and is a milder version of the same action behind anti-inflammatory drugs.
Benefits for Hair Follicles
When it comes to your hair, improved circulation leads to more, and healthier, active hair follicles.
That can have two separate effects over time for your hair follicles and has several results in your hair. The first effect on your hair follicles is that, with more access to oxygen and nutrients through circulation, your hair follicles can grow. If any follicles have begun shrinking recently and have not progressed to the point of permanent damage, they’ll begin to grow again and reverse the shrinking.
Better circulation can also help your hair follicles grow hair longer. Your natural growth cycle includes several different phases, including growth, holding, resting, shedding, and growth again. Since you only grow a few inches of hair a year, the length your hair can read is determined, in part, by how long your follicles stay in the growth phase, anagen.
Benefits for Your Hair
These two benefits cause several more positive changes in the resulting hair.
For one thing, you may notice that individual strands of your hair get slightly coarser. Coarseness is a measure of the width of the strand, not how soft it is, or whether it grows in straight or curly. Since your hair follicles can’t grow hair wider than the follicle itself, your hair may get slightly wider as your follicles grow larger.
This effect is limited. Your hair follicles have a genetically pre-determined size and won’t, under normal circumstances, grow any larger. But it can be enough to change the character of your hair slightly, especially if your hair had been growing finer before you started drinking green tea regularly.
Your hair is also likely to get thicker.
In this case, the thickness of your hair is a measure of how many strands of hair you have at any one time, not how thick each strand of hair has become.
The improved hair thickness is a combination of both effects on your hair follicles. If your follicles stay in anagen longer, there will be statistically more follicles actively growing and holding on to hair at any one time.
Plus, as the health of your scalp and hair follicles improves with better circulation, you’re likely to see more hair follicles staying healthy enough to continue growing hair in general.
This combined with the benefits from antioxidants means shinier, healthier, hair, and more of it.
All people, short of a hormonal disorder, have some level of testosterone, and DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, in their body. Men usually have a greater concentration than women, since they have more testosterone to start with, and DHT is a natural byproduct of testosterone.
DHT’s full function in the body isn’t well understood. However, we do know that it’s one of the primary drivers of androgenic alopecia or male and female pattern baldness. Too much DHT in your scalp shrinks hair follicles the same way lack of circulation does, leading to finer, shorter hairs, and eventually non-functional hair follicles and hair loss.
In addition to acting as antioxidants and improving circulation, some of the catechins in green tea also bind with the primary enzymes that create DHT. Instead of turning testosterone into DHT, the enzymes become inert.
While the studies on DHT and green tea are still in their infancy, and we don’t know much about the ongoing effects of green tea on testosterone concentration, a concern since testosterone is being converted in much smaller concentrations, we do have studies on the effect of other treatments that also prevent the conversion of testosterone into DHT.
In users of Finasteride, or Propecia, and Minoxidil, or Rogaine, blood concentration of testosterone does increase slightly. But the overall effect is so small that there aren’t significant health effects.
Since green tea functions similarly, it is thought that the same will hold.
Much like restoring circulation, eliminating DHT allows DHT damaged hair follicles to begin to grow and regenerate. That means better health for all your hair follicles, and the potential for more hair follicles to actively grow hair.
Topical Benefits of Green Tea
One of the reasons we covered the internal benefits of green tea first, is that topical green tea has many of the same benefits. Even applied directly to your skin, green tea is mildly anti-inflammatory, and contains antioxidants that protect your skin and hair.
Whether topical green tea also fights DHT is unknown, but less likely. For topical green tea to fight DHT, the same catechins that block DHT formation would have to penetrate through your skin, into your circulatory system, and encounter the involved enzymes. While possible, very few particles are small enough to penetrate that deep through the skin in any kind of concentration.
But, topical green tea has some additional benefits separate from internal green tea.
Applied topically, green tea is a mild cleanser that helps lift dirt and oil away from your hair and skin.
Since dirt, oil, and dry skin buildup are some of the main causes of the bacterial and yeast overgrowth that causes dandruff and other scalp problems, this is an important benefit of using green tea for your hair.
This benefit is the main benefit of hair rinses and soaks made with green tea. The anti-inflammatory effect can also help soothe your scalp while eliminating harmful bacteria, yeast, and fungi living on your skin.
The other, secondary effect of topical green tea is that it stimulates your scalp. Caffeine, regardless of the course, stimulates the cells in your scalp and encourages hair growth, both more hair and growing longer faster.
This benefit is the main reason you can find green tea and coffee shampoos and conditioners that boast about boosting your hair growth.
Like many of the studies into topical green tea, the full benefit of caffeine for scalp stimulation has been studied, but the studies are still in their infancy and awaiting follow up trials and replication studies.
Still, we have reasonable confidence in caffeine as a mild hair growth stimulant.
Between internal and external uses for green tea, there’s little doubt of its ability to help your hair look and feel better.
We’ve talked about how green tea works, some of the most common preparations you can use for hair and addressed some of the myths and confusion about different types of tea and how they can impact your hair.
Hopefully, you not only have a better understanding of how green tea can benefit your hair but also have some ideas for how you can start to incorporate green tea into your normal hair care routine.
- Green Tea, Black Tea, Herbal Tea
- How to Use Green Tea for Healthy, Beautiful, Hair
- How Green Tea Works
- Topical Benefits of Green Tea