Can drinking tea make your skin darker?

L asks:  My 10 year old son often asks for tea but I reprimand him saying that his skin tone will get darker by drinking tea for that's what I have heard people around me say about giving tea to kids! 

I have heard good things about teas like green and white tea, however!  So does drinking tea really make the skin dark? And what about lips - does it cause darkening in lips?  Please enlighten me on this!

If drinking tea could make a person dark, then all Irish and English who cannot do without their morning cuppa would have been dark-complexioned!

Does tea make your skin tone dark? - pic of cup of milky tea on a table with cookies

What decides your skin color?

It's the amount of melanin pigment in your skin that decides the color of your skin and it's genetic. 

Does tea increase melanin content of your skin?

There is no adequate evidence to suggest that tea drinking can activate the melanin pigment production and cause your skin to tan.

Though some studies such as this and this have explored the possibilities of certain  herbs such as turmeric and teas (such as black and green teas) for preventing skin damage from the UV rays of the sun, no studies have conclusively proved that these herbs or teas can increase melanin production; so such claims are only anecdotal.

Too much sun exposure, however tends to increase melanin production and make the skin dark.

So it's not your habit of drinking tea but your genetics and exposure to the sun that are the chief contributing factors affecting skin color.

Drinking tea does not make your skin darker, period.

Drinking tea does not make you darker or affect your skin color.
Drinking tea does not affect your skin color.

Way of preparing tea can affect your health and skin

Now tea certainly has got a bad rep, but it's not because tea drinking in itself is harmful!

There are different types of tea and various ways of preparing them. Read about it in the article Tea-rrific Facts About Your Favorite Teas.

The way of preparing tea matters a lot. Tea is always to be steeped or brewed in hot water and not boiled. Boiling it makes it bitter, overcooked and acidic. The addition of milk, and sugar also makes it extremely acidic in nature.

Now it's a known fact that an excess of acidic foods can cause ulcers and also have an adverse effect on your complexion. Hence drinking such a tea is not advisable.

Drinking tea with the addition of milk is unhealthy.- pic of milk tea
Drinking tea with the addition of milk is unhealthy.

By the way, black tea, prepared without the addition of milk is a much healthier option. Adding milk to tea also nullifies the health benefits of tea.

In fact a study has found that  the milk protein, casein, binds polyphenols called catechins, the antioxidant compounds found in tea making them unavailable to the body.

This holds true for green tea as well. Read about it in the post Don't drink Green Tea with Milk.

Drinking too much tea could affect your skin color

However, tea is diuretic. Downing several cups of tea on a regular basis can leave your skin dehydrated and make it appear dull and lifeless overtime, giving the appearance of a darker skin tone. And of course, excess tea consumption can darken your lips or rather give you black lips. Read more of it below.

Does tea make your lips darker?

Unfortunately yes, it can! Do read the post Does tea or coffee make your lips darker? for more.

Drinking tea for great, healthy skin and overall good health 

So as in all cases, in tea drinking also, moderation is the key to reap the full health benefits of tea. Having 2-3 cups of black tea is just fine.

Read about the antioxidant benefits of black and green teas. Also did you know that tea drinking can improve brain health?

Recent research has found that drinking white tea regularly can improve skin elasticity, prevent wrinkles and sagging skin.

So drink the right kind of tea for glowing and supple skin and that which is prepared the right way!

Black tea is a much healthier option than milk tea.
Black tea is a much healthier option than milk tea.

You might also be interested in  Hair Benefits that you can get from Black Tea.


Why do Indians believe that drinking tea darkens the skin?

It's a fact that  most Indians believe that drinking tea can lead to a darker skin tone; you can hear it from yoru near and dear relatives, friends, in forums, groups and on social media! 

This widespread belief  of 'Tea causes skin darkening'  is probably due to the craze for fair skin.

Now there is this extreme craving for fair skin among South Asians, particularly Indians. It's so firmly entrenched in our  psyche that we are willing to believe anything that promises fairness.

This can be seen in the multitude of acid peels, toxic fairness creams, harsh bleaches and other chemicals that  we slather on ourselves in the hope of attaining fairness quite oblivious to the fact that they can wreak havoc on the skin in the long run!

So it's not surprising that many of us fall for this myth.

Why is the myth "Drinking tea makes your skin dark" so common in India and other South East Asian countries?

It's quite common in India for mothers to dissuade their children from drinking tea by saying that it causes the skin to darken.

This unhealthy obsession with fair skin needs to be stopped. Do not tell your children that drinking tea will make their skin dark; instead, explain that it may not be good for them.

The way tea is prepared in India, being acidic in nature will adversely affect a child's digestive system, so you could give your child herbal teas or Kashayams instead.

Herbal tea, though technically not made from tea leaves but from herbs, spices, dried fruits and other condiments is supposed to aid the digestive system and is beneficial to health.

Herbal tea is a healthier option for children as well as adults. - pic of herbal tea in a cup
Herbal tea is a healthier option for children as well as adults.

Final Thoughts

And if you find that your skin is getting sallow, dull and dark, tea is most certainly not a culprit. The reason could be anything like less sleep, stress or any other lifestyle habit.

So don't blame tea for your skin darkening problem. However, if you notice prominent changes in your skin tone, consult a dermatologist to determine the reason for the same.

By the way, did you also believe in the 'tea causes skin darkening' myth? Or do you know any person in your vicinity who propagates this myth and reprimands her kids?

Now that the myth is debunked, hope you have no qualms about tea drinking and hopefully you'll share this knowledge with everyone else. Do share your views & suggestions in the comments.

Also read: Will reducing weight darken my skin? – Reader’s Query

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