Polyphenols are antioxidant molecules found in many foods including nuts, fruits, vegetables, chocolate, wine, and tea. Polyphenols have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antineoplastic properties. Recent studies suggest that tea polyphenols may be used for reducing sebum production in the skin and for treatment of acne vulgaris. This review examines the evidence for use of topically and orally ingested tea polyphenols against sebum production and for acne treatment and prevention. The PubMed database was searched for studies on tea polyphenols, sebum secretion, and acne vulgaris. Of the 59 studies found, eight met the inclusion criteria. Two studies evaluated tea polyphenol effects on sebum production; six studies examined tea polyphenol effects on acne vulgaris. Seven studies evaluated topical tea polyphenols; one study examined systemic tea polyphenols. None of the studies evaluated both topical and systemic tea polyphenols. Tea polyphenol sources included green tea (six studies) and tea, type not specified (two studies). Overall, there is some evidence that tea polyphenols in topical formulation may be beneficial in reducing sebum secretion and in treatment of acne. Research studies of high quality and with large sample sizes are needed to assess the efficacy of tea polyphenols in topical and oral prevention of acne vulgaris and lipid synthesis by the sebaceous glands.
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