White tea is quickly becoming known as a miracle ingredient in the skincare world, due to its high catechin (antioxidant) content. Among other benefits, white tea is highly effective at minimising the visible signs of ageing – something that holds growing importance as we all strive to look 10 years younger!As a drink, tea has long been known for its antioxidant qualities. Made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, harvested tea leaves undergo various degrees of processing to result in the end product we drink (and now use in skincare!). Harvesting changes the leaves’ chemical composition and reduces the content of catechins. There are three major types of tea: black, green and white tea. They differ by the method of harvesting and processing, resulting in different levels of antioxidant content.Black tea has a much lower catechin (antioxidant) content than green and white tea, due to the process of fermenting the leaves. Green tea is widely known for its antioxidant qualities, however the process of drying green tea leaves actually reduces the amount of catechins in the final product.The least well known of the tea types, white tea is the unsung hero. White tea has the highest catechin content of the three major tea variations, due to the fact that it is minimally processed. It is made of the best quality young and baby tea leaves which are steamed immediately after harvest to inactivate the enzyme that destroys catechins. The white tea leaves are then sun dried. Because of this minimal processing white tea has a very high concentration of antioxidants, making it highly effective in the anti-ageing market.Recent studies have found that white tea is more effective in this anti-ageing arena than its more well-known counterpart, green tea. Elma Baron, director of the Skin Study Center at University Hospitals of Cleveland (UHC) and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), has carried out extensive research on the benefits of white tea in skincare. Dr. Baron says, “We found the application of white tea extract protects critical elements of the skin’s immune system. Similar to the way oxidation causes a car to rust, oxidative stress on the skin causes a breakdown in cellular strength and function. The white tea extract protects against this stress.”Similarly, other studies have proven that topical application of white tea is effective in boosting the immune function of skin cells and protecting them against the damaging effects of sun exposure. The antioxidant property of white tea is what makes it effective as an anti-aging ingredient in skincare. Kevin Cooper, chairman of the department of dermatology at UHC and CWRU says, “We know that younger skin tends to be able to resist the oxidative stress associated with exposure to the destructive rays of sunlight. The white tea extract also appears to build the skin’s resistance against stresses that cause the skin to age.”White tea extract protects your skin from more than just sun damage. All skin contains matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), an enzyme that gobbles up the collagen and elastin that keeps our skin looking young. Small amounts of MMP in younger skin is healthy, however as we age the amount of MMP in the skin increases resulting in visible signs of ageing. Applying white tea extract to the skin inhibits the activity of the MMP enzyme, so collagen and elastin can continue performing their task of maintaining your skin’s appearance.So what does this all mean? Long story short, white tea extract has been proven to minimise the visible signs of ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots and sagging skin. Great news! This is why we have included white tea extract in the majority of our Natural Skincare products. This super-ingredient is the next big thing in the fight against ageing, are you going to get on board?