Caffeine & Skincare: The Surprising Benefits

January 29, 2021

Caffeine & Skincare: The Surprising Benefits

In this article:

  • What exactly is caffeine?
  • General health benefits of caffeine
  • How does caffeine for skincare work?
  • Caffeine skincare recipes you can do at home.

When we think of coffee (some more frequently than others), we think of an essential energy booster to get through the day. While some people prefer to stick to the good ol’ basics and avoid mixing their brew with any additions, others have experimented and upgraded with drinks such as collagen coffee, or whipped coffee. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a purist, but when it comes to ingredients as powerful as caffeine, there is some science to explain.

Perhaps some of the lesser-known benefits of caffeine are its skin-loving properties. Spa fans should pay attention because caffeine and coffee treatments can be your best skincare allies this season for smooth skin from within. Without further ado, let’s jump into the surprising caffeine benefits that will strengthen your bond with coffee even more!

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is essentially a stimulant, and the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world. [1] Caffeine is not only responsible for the stimulating effects of the beverages it is added to. It also delivers a unique, recognizable, bitter taste. Many people use the terms coffee and caffeine interchangeably, which is no surprise given that the word caffeine comes from the German word Kaffee and the French word café. [1] The effects of caffeine in the body can be felt almost instantly, but it takes about 30-45 minutes for the body to absorb it completely. Depending on the quantity of caffeine in your drink, its effects should cease after ~3 hours, and it does not accumulate in the body. [1]

But is coffee the only source of caffeine? Although it may be the most popular, coffee certainly isn’t the only beverage that contains caffeine. In addition to coffee, caffeine is also present in tea leaves, cocoa beans, cola, and of course - energy drinks. [1] And if you happen to love and consume most of the above-mentioned products, you may wonder how much is too much? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA), 200 mg-300 mg per day is considered a safe, moderate amount of caffeine to consume. If your intake goes above 400mg a day, it is considered a high dose, while heavy caffeine consumption would be exceeding 6,000 mg/day. [1]

General health benefits of caffeine

Before jumping into the role of caffeine in skin health, let’s talk about some of its well-known, as well as underestimated, beneficial effects. One of the main reasons behind the popularity of coffee and energy drinks is the energy-boosting effect of caffeine. According to a study on the effects of coffee on alertness and performance during the day and night, caffeinated coffee has been shown to significantly promote alertness, while improving performance in many tasks. [2] Furthermore, coffee consumption has been associated with improved brain functions such as mood, memory, reaction times, and vigilance. [3]

And while the presence of caffeine in fat-burning supplements may be linked to its energy-boosting properties, the main role of caffeine in these products lies in its fat-burning potential. A study involving both lean and postobese participants found caffeine to increase the resting metabolic rate of both groups by 3-4%. [4] Moreover, the study supports the finding that caffeine consumption has a significant effect on energy balance. Caffeine also has a significant role in physical activity, as it stimulates the nervous system by increasing adrenaline levels necessary to prepare the body for strenuous exercise. [3]

Though many of our favorite soft drinks may not be the healthiest choice for the liver, coffee is not one of them. Quite the contrary - coffee appears to have certain beneficial properties when it comes to liver function and health. According to a study focused on cirrhosis and transaminase enzymes, coffee is a risk modulator lowering the chance of cirrhosis development, especially in cases of alcohol consumption. [5] And if you get your dose of caffeine from coffee, you’ll be happy to learn that it isn’t the only beneficial nutrient in this beverage. A cup of regular coffee also contains riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium, niacin (vitamin B3), manganese, potassium, and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). [3]

Caffeine & skincare

When it comes to skincare, we tend to gravitate toward topical skincare products such as serums, moisturizers, masks, and lotions. While topical care is undoubtedly an irreplaceable part of a healthy skin care routine, the question of bioavailability arises. Bioavailability essentially determines the amount of this nutrient your body is actually able to utilize.

According to a study conducted by J. M. Pullar and colleagues, nutrient delivery can occur topically, but due to the skin barrier in the surface layer, it is harder for a topical skincare ingredient to reach lower levels of the dermis - hence the priority of nutrients delivered through the bloodstream. [6] The best way to give your skin proper care is to always combine your favorite topical beauty products with dietary supplements, and in this case, caffeine intake, which won’t be a challenge for a coffee lover. Let’s see how your skin can benefit just by sticking to your favorite morning routine!

The power of a collagen - caffeine blend: collagen coffee

If you’re already a barista-level coffee addict you might feel resistant, but the health and beauty benefits of adding a scoop of collagen into your morning brew are undeniable. Collagen is a hard, structural protein, and accounts for one-third of the entire protein amount in the body. [7] Collagen is also the dominant factor in skin health, not only as the most abundant protein in the skin, but in the entire human body.

Statistically speaking, 75-80% of your skin is comprised of collagen. [8] Needless to say, it is necessary for collagen to be at an optimal level for the skin to be considered healthy, and luckily, our body can do a bit of this work for us by producing collagen naturally. The bad news is that collagen production decreases with age, which is where our skincare routine, including appropriate supplementation, comes into play. [9]

Collagen coffee is the most convenient way to keep up with your collagen supplementation on a daily basis and make sure your collagen levels stay healthy as you age. As the major component of skin, collagen aids in graceful skin aging by helping to hydrate (minimize dryness) and reduce the onset of wrinkling and fine lines. It also provides the skin with greater elasticity. [10] What’s more, supplementing with collagen has been found to stimulate natural collagen production in the skin. [10]

While collagen is undoubtedly a superfood even on its own, when combined with caffeine, many of its skin benefits multiply. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a powerful antioxidant, and its beneficial effects can be unleashed even if you prefer to stick to your favorite coffee or caffeinated beverage with no addition of supplements.

Reduce the appearance of cellulite

The first and most important effect of caffeine on the skin is its antioxidant activity which promotes overall skin health and structure. [11] Furthermore, caffeine has been found to conceal the appearance of textural changes such as cellulite by dilating blood vessels. Caffeine also aids in improving blood flow and removing excess water. [11]

When it comes to skin treatments, the emphasis is on methods such as coffee scrubs, which act as natural exfoliants removing dead skin cells and rejuvenating the skin. While scrubs cannot penetrate deep enough to target cellulite (nor can cellulite creams), they can reduce its appearance by giving the skin a smoother finish. [11] If you’re in for an upgrade, combining a coffee scrub with a professional massage can aid in lymphatic drainage, which is also beneficial when battling cellulite. [11] (Find the recipe for an easy DIY exfoliating coffee scrub at the end of this article!)

Manage inflammatory conditions

Inflammation is an underlying cause of numerous persistent skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. A review of caffeine in the management of skin conditions suggests that patients suffering from inflammation such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema may benefit from topical caffeine treatments. Furthermore, the review finds that by reducing inflammation, caffeine may also inhibit cell death and preserve healthy skin cells. [12] Topically applied coffee has also been found to soothe the skin and have a calming effect. [11]

Conceal dark circles and puffy eyes

Ever wake up with puffy eyes? Yet another skin benefit associated with caffeine’s unique activity is that it dilates blood vessels. Apparently, it is the blood vessels around the eyes that contribute to darkness under the eyes. By dilating them, caffeine minimizes the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. [11] In addition to your daily caffeine intake, you might want to try this homemade remedy aimed at reducing puffiness and dark circles:

  1. Create a mixture of ½ tsp each of coffee grounds and olive oil with a few drops of water to create a paste.
  2. Gently apply the paste under the eye and leave it to sit and absorb for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove the mixture gently with water or a cloth and apply your eye cream (try switching to a caffeine eye cream to complete your depuff strategy). [11]

Manage signs of aging

According to a study conducted by Y. Fukushima and colleagues, coffee consumption has proven to be a beneficial ritual when it comes to your anti-aging skin routine. For the study participants, coffee was recognized as the most abundant source of polyphenols which contain necessary antioxidants. Coffee consumption has been linked to a significant decrease in visible signs of aging, such as hyperpigmentation and pigmented spots. Moreover, the study suggests that caffeine aids in the protection of the skin from photoaging. [13]

Provide a source of vitamin B3

Besides being an abundant source of polyphenols, coffee also contains a large amount of vitamin B3 (niacin) which is released by the breakdown of trigonelline during the coffee roasting process (one of the downsides of unroasted, green coffee). [11] Vitamin B3 is a nutrient that may aid in lowering cholesterol and boosting brain functions. Symptoms of niacin deficiency include brain fog, fatigue, headache, and skin problems as niacin has a significant role in photoprotection. [14]

Adult acne management

As we’ve already mentioned, caffeine has been shown to aid in easing the symptoms of inflammation and managing the skin conditions caused by it. In addition to these, caffeine may also help with acne, thanks to both its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. [11]

Aftersun skincare

Are you a lizard in the sunshine? Caffeine helps to protect the skin against sun damage, and also helps it to recover after sun exposure. Whether you got a bad sunburn or you’re just looking for a natural, easy solution for soothing your skin after sun exposure, a coffee treatment is a good answer. Use a cup of freshly brewed black coffee to create a soothing after-sun skin treatment. Dilute it with cold water and place a soft cloth in the mixture. Dab the cloth all over the sunburned areas, using low pressure. You can repeat this step throughout the day until you see the redness subsiding and until you feel the uncomfortable, tightening sensation ceasing. [11]

Exfoliation

As long as you have some coffee grounds in your house, there is absolutely no need to break the bank on expensive caffeine treatments. Coffee grounds are a great choice not just due to their caffeine content, but also due to the fact that they do not dissolve in contact with water. The texture of coffee beans will scrub away dead cells leaving you with smooth skin, while the caffeic acid in them has antimicrobial properties for a thorough skin cleanse. [15]

Make your own exfoliating coffee scrub at home

Ingredients:

1. ¼ cup fresh coffee grounds

2. ¼ cup brown sugar

3. lemon juice or coconut/olive oil (enough to get the desired consistency - the thicker the scrub, the stronger the exfoliating effect)

Directions:

Apply the scrub with your hands or using a sponge and start scrubbing in circular motions. You can also let the mixture sit on your skin for a few minutes as a form of mask to let the skin absorb all the beneficial nutrients (especially if you’ve added oil since it will make your skin extra soft!). Repeat the process every few days to get rid of dead skin cells and prevent in-grown hairs.

If you suffer from any skin conditions or you experience strong reactions, make sure to consult with your dermatologist before trying any new treatments (even if they’re 100% natural!). To see our full assortment of non-GMO, natural supplements, head over to our online store.

Summary Points

  • Caffeine is essentially a stimulant, and the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world
  • One of the main reasons behind the popularity of coffee and energy drinks is the energy-boosting effect of caffeine
  • Caffeine offers plenty of other health benefits, including a faster metabolism and liver health
  • Caffeine's skincare benefits include: reduced appearance of cellulite, anti-inflammatory activity, and reduced signs of aging on the skin.
  • You can easily make your own exfoliating coffee scrub at home with just 3 ingredients

Article References:

  1. Kovacs, B. (2007, December 31). Caffeine: Read About Side Effects, Addiction, and Withdrawal. Retrieved from MedicineNet website: https://www.medicinenet.com/caffeine/article.htm
  2. Smith, A. P., Brockman, P., Flynn, R., Maben, A., & Thomas, M. (1993). Investigation of the effects of coffee on alertness and performance during the day and night. Neuropsychobiology, 27(4), 217–223. https://doi.org/10.1159/000118984
  3. Gunnars, K. (2018). 13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science. Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee
  4. Dulloo, A. G., Geissler, C. A., Horton, T., Collins, A., & Miller, D. S. (1989). Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 49(1), 44–50. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/49.1.44
  5. Klatsky, A. L., Morton, C., Udaltsova, N., & Friedman, G. D. (2006). Coffee, cirrhosis, and transaminase enzymes. Archives of internal medicine, 166(11), 1190–1195. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.166.11.1190
  6. Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. (2017). The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080866
  7. Collagen: What is it and what are its uses? (n.d.). Retrieved from www.medicalnewstoday.com website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262881#overview
  8. An Overview of Your Skin | Cleveland Clinic. (2016). Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic website: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10978-skin
  9. Varani, J., Dame, M. K., Rittie, L., Fligiel, S. E., Kang, S., Fisher, G. J., & Voorhees, J. J. (2006). Decreased collagen production in chronologically aged skin: roles of age-dependent alteration in fibroblast function and defective mechanical stimulation. The American journal of pathology, 168(6), 1861–1868. https://doi.org/10.2353/ajpath.2006.051302
  10. Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements. (n.d.). Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits#1.-Can-improve-skin-health
  11. Coffee Scrub for Cellulite: Does It Work, How to Use It, and More. (2018, April 19). Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/health/coffee-scrub-for-cellulite#What-does-science-say?
  12. Caffeine can reduce inflammation in patients with eczema and psoriasis. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2021, from Dermatology Times website: https://www.dermatologytimes.com/view/caffeine-can-reduce-inflammation-patients-eczema-and-psoriasis
  13. Fukushima, Y., Takahashi, Y., Hori, Y., Kishimoto, Y., Shiga, K., Tanaka, Y., Masunaga, E., Tani, M., Yokoyama, M., & Kondo, K. (2015). Skin photoprotection and consumption of coffee and polyphenols in healthy middle-aged Japanese females. International journal of dermatology, 54(4), 410–418. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijd.12399
  14. Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD. (2018, November 26). 9 Science-Based Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3). Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/niacin-benefits
  15. Coffee for skin and hair: 8 benefits and how to use it. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.medicalnewstoday.com website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322875#exfoliation




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