WHAT IS CAFFEINE?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in a variety of plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts, and cacao pods. Generally speaking, many people get their daily dose of caffeine through coffee, tea, and soft drink beverages to regain wakefulness.
However, not everyone is aware of the alternate uses and benefits of caffeine, especially its cosmetic use in skincare. Here we will describe the connection between caffeine and skin health—especially the role coffee plays—and how you can use it topically to unleash positive results.
HOW DOES CAFFEINE AFFECT SKIN?
Caffeine can act as a powerful catalyst for good skin in several ways, whether you consume it as a beverage, use skincare products that contain caffeine, or apply caffeine topically to the skin (e.g., coffee grounds).
Studies show that the cosmetic use of caffeine plays a potential role in reducing the appearance of cellulite, preventing photodamage and other factors that can lead to skin aging as well.
Caffeine has potent antioxidant properties, which can slow down the process of skin aging. Free radicals, for instance, are particles that can damage our skin’s DNA and, in turn, speed along the skin’s aging process. But antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals.
Many plant-based foods, like coffee beans and grounds, for example, contain naturally occurring antioxidants. Caffeine, as an antioxidant, can prevent or slow cell damage caused by free radicals, which are visible as fine lines and wrinkles.
The most common antioxidants for anti-aging include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, which you can find in many skincare product formulas. Retinoid, for instance, is a form of vitamin A and the main ingredient in several anti-aging skincare creams. Therefore, caffeine, in conjunction with an anti-aging formula containing retinol, is one of your best defenses against visible signs of aging.
2. FAT REDUCTION
Another capability of caffeine is that it can prevent excessive accumulation of fat in cells, which can help with cellulite—a prevalent skin condition that causes the appearance of uneven, dimpled texture on the skin.
Cellulite occurs when deep layers of fatty tissue in the skin push up against the connective tissue below the surface of the skin. Not only can caffeine reduce the amount of fat in certain skin cells, but caffeine can also increase the circulation of small blood vessels when applied to the skin, giving skin a firmer, tighter, and overall smoother appearance.
A natural way to reduce the appearance of cellulite is to scrub and exfoliate the affected skin with the grounds of fresh coffee beans. The caffeine from the coffee grounds will dilate blood vessels, while the scrubbing motion increases blood flow and circulation. To make a DIY coffee scrub for cellulite, combine:
- 1 cup of fresh coffee grounds
- ½ cup of oil (coconut or sweet almond)
- ⅔ cup coarse sugar (brown sugar)
- 4–8 drops cinnamon oil (less for sensitive skin)
- 8 drops vanilla oil, or 1 teaspoon cooking vanilla
Scrub the exfoliating mixture into clean skin (where the cellulite is), rinse off, and pat dry! Be sure to get the OK from a medical professional (such as a dermatologist), first, though!
3. UV PROTECTION
Finally, caffeine can be an effective way to protect against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This is because caffeine works to block ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3 related (ATR for short), a protein that gets activated by various types of DNA-damaged cells, one of them being the skin.
Thankfully, due to its powerful blocking abilities, caffeine can help to lower the risk of UV-damaged cells becoming cancerous. In fact, researchers have found that individuals who have a higher intake of caffeine were less likely to develop a specific type of skin cancer known as melanoma skin cancer.
Besides consuming more caffeine, the topical application of this ingredient can also be an adequate way to protect against UV rays. So the next time you plan to spend the day under the sun, search for a sunscreen containing caffeine and other non-comedogenic skincare and ingredients.
Frosina A. Ivanovic is a content marketing specialist and writer. She’s passionate about quality coffee, travel, wellness, and digital marketing. You can connect with Frosina on LinkedIn or her website, Zhillmatic.