Green tea has been enjoyed for centuries and is one of the world’s most popular beverages.
Touted as a cure-all beverage, many companies have started adding green tea to their products, especially ones that claim to make your hair healthier.
However, you may wonder whether green tea truly benefits your hair.
This article gets to the root of green tea and its potential benefits for healthy hair.
What is green tea?
Tea leaves come from the plant Camellia sinensis. Depending on the processing method, tea leaves can produce green, black, white, or oolong tea.
Green tea is made from fresh tea leaves that undergo drying and sunlight exposure to prevent oxidation and fermentation, which leads to green tea’s distinct flavor.
Certain types of green tea may undergo different processing methods. For example, matcha green tea is produced with pre-harvest tea leaves that sit under 90% shade, resulting in a richer flavor and higher antioxidant content.
Green teas are well known for being rich in antioxidants. Most of the antioxidants in green tea come from compounds known as flavonols, particularly a type known as catechins.
The most abundant and powerful catechin in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Due to its rich antioxidant content, green tea and its extracts are being used for other purposes, such as preventing hair loss and improving hair health.
Hair benefits of green tea
Green tea is added to many hair care products for its purported benefits. Here are some potential hair benefits of green tea.
May prevent hair loss
Hair loss affects many men and women around the world, and it has various causes, such as stress, diet, autoimmune diseases, and hormonal changes.
Hormonal hair loss, known as androgenetic alopecia, affects around 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States. In fact, 50% of men and 25% of women aged 50 and older will experience some degree of hormone-related hair loss.
During hair loss, the hair’s natural growth cycle changes. The cycle includes three phases — androgen (hair growth), catagen (transitional phase), and telogen (hair loss).
Two hormones, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, can decrease the hair growth phase and increase hair loss. Some research has shown that EGCG can inhibit the effects of these hormones on hair and slow hair loss.
In a company-funded pilot study, 10 participants with androgenetic alopecia took a supplement called Forti5 for 24 weeks. At the end of the study, 80% of participants had significant improvements in hair regrowth.
However, the supplement contained an undisclosed amount of green tea extract, melatonin, vitamin D, omega-3, omega-6, beta-sitosterol, and soy isoflavones. Therefore, it’s difficult to know whether the green tea extract led to these improvements.
In one study, mice that received a topical treatment of EGCG-rich green tea had significantly less hair loss than those that did not receive treatment.
It appears that EGCG decreases testosterone-induced hair loss by prolonging the androgen phase of hair growth and slowing the telogen phase, which leads to the shedding of hair.
Supports hair growth
Green tea may support healthy hair growth and regrowth.
In one small study, researchers added topical green tea-derived EGCG extract to the scalps of three participants with alopecia. After 4 days, the participants experienced significant increases in hair growth activity.
EGCG appears to increase hair growth by stimulating hair follicles and preventing damage to skin and hair cells.
What’s more, in a hair loss study in mice, researchers found that 33% of the animals that consumed green tea extract experienced hair regrowth after 6 months, while no mice in the control group experienced improvements.
However, it’s currently unknown how quick or effective green tea hair treatments are for promoting hair growth in humans, especially those who do not have hormone-related hair loss.
Improved nutrient delivery
Hair is part of a much larger system called the integumentary system, which includes nails, skin, hair, and accessory structures. In fact, your hair grows directly from your skin, from which it receives blood flow and nutrition during its growth stage.
In a small study in 15 participants, researchers found that consuming supplements containing green tea extract for 12 weeks increased skin blood flow and oxygen delivery by 29%, compared with the control group.
In another group in the same study, 30 participants drank 4 cups (1 liter) of green tea for 12 weeks. Compared with the control group, the green tea group showed significant improvements in skin hydration.
Hair growth is largely related to oxygen and nutrient delivery to the skin. In fact, poor blood circulation can lead to hair loss. Therefore, drinking green tea may increase the supply of these nutrients to your scalp and improve hair growth.
How to use green tea for your hair
Given the growth-promoting properties of green tea and green tea extract, many hair products include them as a main ingredient. You can purchase them online or in most retail stores.
Here are a few ways to use green tea for your hair:
- Shampoo. Use a daily shampoo containing green tea extract. Be sure to apply most of the shampoo to your roots and scalp and scrub gently.
- Conditioner. Apply a green tea conditioner or hair mask to your hair’s roots, shafts, and tips. Leave on for 3–10 minutes or the time specified on the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Homemade hair rinse. Add 1–2 green tea bags to boiling water and allow them to steep for 5 minutes. Once cool, apply the liquid to your hair at the end of your shower.
Furthermore, you can try to drink 1–2 cups (240–480 ml) of green tea per day to provide your body with a good source of antioxidants.
A word of caution
Although some research supports drinking green tea and using green tea hair products to promote hair growth, there are some important things to keep in mind.
While green tea is safe for consumption, many green tea supplements and oils contain significantly higher amounts of EGCG, which can lead to serious issues, such as liver toxicity and stomach upset.
A recent review determined that the safe intake level of EGCG in supplements and brewed tea is 338 mg and 704 mg per day, respectively. Therefore, be cautious of supplements containing significantly higher doses.
Also, always speak with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.
In regards to green tea, most people can safely drink up to 3–4 cups (710–950 ml) per day.
How to use the products
Green tea hair products are popping up everywhere, and their cost-effectiveness depends on how you’re using them.
Hair follicles receive blood flow and nutrition to promote the growth of hair strands. Once the hair strand (shaft) grows out of the hair follicle, it no longer receives a supply of nutrients.
Therefore, drinking green tea will not affect the strength of the hair you already have. It will only affect new hair that is being produced in the hair follicle. While certain hair products can hydrate and nourish hair strands, they will not cause them to grow.
If you’re using a hair mask or shampoo, be sure to apply it to your roots and scalp, as this will help the product reach your hair follicles. Also, be sure to gently scrub your hair when using shampoo to avoid damaging the roots.
The bottom line
Green tea is an antioxidant-rich beverage enjoyed around the world.
Drinking it and using hair products containing it may lower your risk of hair loss and even promote hair regrowth.
Many green tea hair products are available in stores or online, but be sure to apply them to the scalp and roots for best results. You can also rinse your hair with brewed green tea after shampooing and conditioning your hair.
If you’d rather stick to drinking green tea, you can safely enjoy up to 3–4 cups (710–950 ml) per day.