Green Tea in Skincare

We use licochalcone, a Chinese licorice root extract, in Moisturizer and AHA+ (10% glycolic acid). This is what gives both products their characteristic yellow color. I chose licochalcone because it is powerfully calming to the skin and works especially well on irritated, acne-prone skin. It targets inflammation and has antioxidant properties and has proven its efficacy over the years that it has worked so well within the line of products. However, it is extremely expensive ($6000 per kilogram), and some people don’t love the yellow color it imparts. Because it is such a specialized ingredient, we are also at the mercy of cyclical weather changes and potentially unreliable harvests in the few places where this particular species of licorice is grown.

For these reasons, I have kept my eye out for another comparable calming ingredient with research to back up its use on acne-prone skin. Green tea, or more particularly, the major polyphenol within green tea called EGCG, is one of the strong top contenders. I have been intrigued with green tea for several years now, but the more I look into it the more I’m liking what I’m seeing. Researchers performed two more studies within the last two years on EGCG and its effect on acne, both with promising results. The data is showing that EGCG not only produces anti-inflammatory effects, but may also help reduce skin oil (sebum) production.

Any change to products takes lots of time to study, mock up, and ultimately implement, and I am still not 100% convinced that I can’t find anything even better than EGCG, but I’m intrigued to say the least.


  • Im M, et al. “Epigallocatechin-3-gallate suppresses IGF-I-induced lipogenesis and cytokine expression in SZ95 sebocytes.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2012; 132(12): 2700-8.
  • Yoon JY, et al. “Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P. acnes.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2013; 133(2): 429-40.


Leave a Reply

  • Dave

    Dan, first of all, thanks for bringing back your blog.

    This green tea post is very interesting. I love the licochalcone in your moisturizer. I have a bit of mild rosacea as well, and your moisturizer has been amazing in helping calm my skin. If you do make a change, can you please consider this factor as well? I know you are very thorough in everything you do, but if a change is made, I hope that the potential new moisturizer would be much better. I love your current moisturizer! It’s hard to beat. Thank you for the update and please consider all factors regarding the calming properties of both of these ingredients before making a switch.

  • Elizabeth Kosky

    Take a look at seawhip.

  • Elizabeth Kosky

    Have you tried taking a look at seawhip?

  • Dan

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Yes, I have looked into seawhip. I like its overall anti-inflammatory action, but it is an animal product and all products are vegan. There’s something that doesn’t feel quite right about harvesting coral. Also, I am still not convinced that seawhip is the right anti-inflammatory for acne specifically. I like how licochalcone and green tea (and perhaps nicotinamide) provide specific anti-inflammatory action that targets acne in particular.


  • Dave

    Hi Dan,

    Would EGCG show up in a normal white color in a lotion? Or would it appear colored, like licochalcone?

    And in case you’re taking a pole, I don’t mind the yellow color of the current moisturizer. In fact, I like it.

  • Heather

    Hi Dan!

    Do these studies indicate that drinking green tea can help combat acne? Or do they refer to a topical application only? I’m wondering if the anti-inflammatory properties and sebum-reducing action could be achieved (even if its only slightly) by consuming more green tea?

    Thank you!

  • Jennifer

    I also like the licochalcone; it is very calming to my skin. is also the only AHA product I can use that doesn’t give me red, itchy, painful, bumps. I followed your directions and use the AHA 2 or 3 times a week, followed by moisturizer, then sunblock. I use Burnout or Cotz. I like the yellow color. I don’t understand what the big deal is about it being yellow. Could you consider making a sunblock?

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  • Danny

    Hi Dan,

    I remember when proactiv had introduced the green tea moisturizer into they’re line! and I loved it. The only thing I hate was its 1 oz bottles. But overall, the moisturizer gives off a minty feeling and it moisturizer my face so much, my skin felt like a baby skin. Please, please, PLEASE. Make a Acne.Org Green Tea Moisturizer. I like the licochalcone moisturizer you guys sell, but Green Tea still tops it.

  • Danny

    Oops, typo. Haha.

  • Dave

    Hey Dan,

    One more thing. I think you removed glycerin from your moisturizer when you made the switch in 2010. I believe your old moisturizer caused redness/slight burning and your current one does not, so that’s a very positive ingredient change. I hope you will keep that aspect the same (exclude glycerin or whatever redness-causing ingredient was in your last moisturizer) if you update your moisturizer again. Thanks!

  • Jasmine

    Please do a green tea moisturizer! I love green tea and the idea of a moisturizer is very exciting! I’ve been researching green tea and acne, as well, and it seems like a great all-natural way to help all kinds of skin issues! I’m definitely on board.

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