One Pump of Coffee in My Serum, Please

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

But, have you ever wondered how these magical drinks affect your body and skin? With all the coffee scrubs and caffeine eye creams out there — does the “awaken” effect also apply to our skin?

Caffeine’s got A-game: Antioxidants

Both coffee and tea contain high amounts of multiple antioxidants. A diet rich in antioxidants can help your body’s cells (including skin cells) fight off free radicals that contribute to the aging process, like the sun, pollution, smoke, and more.

ishonest No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

Coffee contains the antioxidant ferulic acid, which is shown to have an anti- inflammatory effect on the body and skin. Green tea, on the other hand, contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is also known to have anti-inflammatory benefits as well as helping to protect cells from damage.

Coffee is also high in niacin (aka vitamin B3) which helps the body’s systems as a whole function better. If we’re talking about the skin specifically, it helps to protect skin cells from UV damage.

All these lovely benefits don’t mean you should go soaking your organs in caffeine though! When it comes to being mindful about food, you’ll want to be mindful about caffeine intake too.

Do I have to give up coffee to get rid of acne?

If you’re especially acne-prone you may want to take note because, while caffeine itself doesn’t cause acne, it may make acne worse.

Your skin has the power to fight fine lines: Catalyse your skin to do more

Learn more

Caffeine stimulates our adrenal glands which produce the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone can increase oil production in the skin which can lead to acne.

In addition to cortisol, it may also be how you take your coffee. Roughly 65 percent of people drink their coffee with cream and/or sugar. Both of these coffee drink additions can negatively impact acne.

Dairy contains growth hormones, which can lead to acne. Sugar, on the other hand, creates surges of insulin and bursts of inflammation which increases hormones and puts oil glands into overdrive. This creates a perfect breeding ground for P. acnes bacteria to form.

If you have stubborn acne it may be a good idea to take a break from caffeine or drink it black to see how your skin reacts. Luckily, cafes have plenty of dairy and sugar alternatives now. We’re looking at you, oat milk.

Can caffeine dehydrate the skin?

ishonest No.111 - Purge Impurities

No.111 - Purge Impurities

A common misconception about coffee and tea is that it’s dehydrating to the body and skin. However, research suggests otherwise!

In this study, they compared people who drank 3–6 cups of coffee per day with people that drank just water and then tested their levels of hydration. Ring the bells for the good news: there was, surprisingly, no real level of difference.

Sure, caffeine is a mild diuretic but think about what coffee and teas are made with — almost all water with a small dose of caffeine. You would be using the bathroom regardless of drinking water or caffeinated drinks.

But this is not permission to not drink water, or replace water with coffee and tea. As a rule of thumb, if your pee goes darker than lemonade, drink more pure water.

If you want thoroughly caffeinated skin, look for…

Activates the microcirculation of scalp and strengthens the hair follicles to stimulate hair growth

Learn more

Within skin care, you may see ingredients like coffee arabica seed oil, caffeine, or green coffee extract in addition to ground coffee in a body scrub. Topical application packs some great benefits as well since it delivers the ingredients directly to the area being treated.

Coffee grounds for cellulite concerns

You’ll often find ground coffee in body scrubs or caffeine/coffee extract as the main ingredients in cellulite treatments. The theory is that caffeine can constrict blood vessels and temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite. But the research around this is slim. Chances are the smooth skin comes from the exfoliating coffee grounds and movement of massaging over the skin. It’s still skin care!

Coffee and tea extracts in serums and moisturizers

You may also find coffee and tea extracts in moisturizers and facial serums because of the potent antioxidant protection. Look for products with coffee and tea extracts to help fight off free radicals and slow down the production of wrinkles, dark spots, and more.

Eye creams with coffee

Since caffeine can constrict blood vessels, increase circulation, and provide anti-inflammatory benefits, its one of the star ingredients of many eye creams. Ideal for the mornings, when the eye area can look its puffiest, a caffeinated eye cream may be the shot of wake-me-up your dark circles and red eyes need.

All in all, there are many pros (and fewer cons) to keeping caffeine in your skin care rotation, topically or as a cuppa in the morning.

Read more on: skin

Learn about unknown needs of your skin for free