Much ado about matcha

The Japanese have enjoyed the antioxidant benefits of matcha tea for a thousand years. Now matcha is having a new moment as a powerful ingredient in skincare.  

Matcha, a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves, is finding its way into more than just hot water and pancakes. It’s the new Yoda of skincare, even haircare and DIY beauty routines. 

After all, drinking matcha tea is known to help slow the ageing process – so why stop at just imbibing it?

“We all know how good green tea is for us to drink, but matcha actually has around 10 times the antioxidants of regular green tea,” says Jenna Mullinger, founder of Oh Natural. “Antioxidants are extremely desirable in skincare as they help ‘deal’ with the free radicals and UV radiation which causes skin to age. The chlorophyll in matcha also helps to detox the skin, and it has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce skin redness too.”

What makes matcha different from standard green tea is how it is grown and harvested. Several weeks before being picked, the leaves are covered to block direct sunlight, slowing the growth and increasing the production of amino acids. The leaves are ground into an ultrafine, vivid green powder, meaning that unlike other teas, you ingest the leaves.

Green tea and matcha are essentially derived from the same source, the Camellia sinensis plant. 

“Green tea is most often found in a tea leaf form whereas matcha translates to ‘powdered tea’,” says Matrix national brand leader Diane Shaskey. “In comparison, matcha delivers a more powerful concentration of nutrients as it consists of 100 per cent green tea leaves that have been ground into a powder.” 

This powdered form makes it easy to blend into products such as face masks, scrubs and balms. Mullinger’s favourite ‘matcha’ product is Be Kind Body Co.’s Matcha Balm, an all-purpose balm that is great for under the eyes and around the lips. (Matcha contains vitamin K, which can help reduce inflammation, aka puffy eyes.) 

Matcha also contains catechins, which have been found to deactivate free radicals in your skin. It can stimulate and rejuvenate skin cells and is effective as a treatment for acne because it has the ability to decrease sebum production. 

And, it’s great for hair too. Matrix Biolage R.A.W Texturizing Styling Spray for hair is infused with matcha and is the ultimate natural origin solution to gain body, volume and root lift.

“Matcha contains high levels of antioxidants that provide protection against the sun’s damaging UV rays”, says Shaskey.  “Matcha also contains polyphenols, which work to protect the hair structure against damage caused by free radicals (the reactive atoms that contribute to oxidative stress, resulting in damage to hair structure). Vitamin B, better known as panthenol, is also present in matcha, which brings strengthening properties to the hair. When amino acids, commonly referred to as ‘the building blocks of protein’, are included in a beauty formulation, which in this case is the form of matcha tea, the amino acids contribute to hair growth, strength and resilience.”

As a versatile health tonic, matcha is hard to beat. It’s easy to stir into hot water or a smoothie, and combined with honey, coconut oil or probiotic yoghurt it makes a nourishing homemade face mask and home spa treatment.

Mullinger believes matcha is having more than a moment and is here to stay.

“Its concentration of antioxidants far exceeds all of the other players – think blueberries, goji berries and pomegranate – so I don’t think you can beat it as an ingredient in anti-ageing skincare.”

Matcha Beauty Ceremony

Mixing a teaspoon of matcha with a teaspoon of honey is a different kind of tea ceremony that results in a hydrating and nourishing matcha mask.

Combining it in equal parts with coconut oil is also said to relieve dry skin, or probiotic yoghurt for an extra boost.

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