There are always two sides to every story and the increasing inclusion of caffeine as an ingredient in topical skin care is one that is dividing experts everywhere so, what’s all the fuss about? From your morning latte to that dark circle brightening eye cream, here are the many ways caffeine is already embedded into your daily routine and how it is affecting the condition of your skin.
Firstly, let’s start with what caffeine actually is. Caffeine is a bitter white crystalline alkaloid that is found in the seeds, leaves and fruits of certain plants, and is well known as a stimulant that is used in everything from energy drinks to anti-cellulite gels. While it might be the thing that wakes you up in the morning, caffeine can have some pretty unsavoury effects on the skin.
Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it dehydrates the body, so if you over-consume caffeine on a daily basis it can contribute to breakouts, make the skin dry and exacerbate inflammatory complexions. The ability to dehydrate the body means it draws essential moisture away from the skin, leaving it looking dull and feeling dry. This is bad news for people with mature or sun damaged skin as this makes an already parched complexion worse but oily and rosacea-prone skins can also feel the brunt of too much caffeine. Drinking multiple cups of caffeine-laden drinks increases the amount of stress hormones in the body which in turn triggers the release of cortisol and increases insulin levels. When this happens it causes inflammation which makes oily skins produce more sebum (leading to blocked pores and blemishes) and rosacea-prone skins over-react, leaving both complexions looking angry and irritated.
On the flip side, caffeine is a natural antioxidant and helps to neutralise free radicals in the body, preventing them from damaging vital collagen proteins and elastin fibres which contribute to visible ageing. When drunk in moderation, caffeine can help to support topical antioxidants and maintain an even skin tone but to minimise the dehydrating effects, follow every cup of coffee with a glass of water.
When it comes to topically applied caffeine, the outlook is a little more positive. Its proven diuretic properties mean it is a popular ingredient in cellulite treatments thanks to its ability to dehydrate fat cells and stimulate lymphatic drainage to transform the skin from uneven and dimpled to smooth and firm. Used regularly it can give you incredibly impressive results but sadly they are only temporary so to maintain these effects, a caffeine rich product needs to be used daily without fail.
These properties of lymphatic drainage make caffeine an excellent ingredient in eye creams and serums too. Not only does it wake up the skin in the morning but it helps to disperse collected blood cells from beneath the skin (which create dark circles under the eyes) and soften puffiness that is often the result of a late night to transform the appearance of tired skin around the eyes.
So, while ingesting caffeine might not be the best thing for your skin, applying it topically could be the solution to your complexion concern. However you choose to include caffeine in your routine, remember to keep the skin hydrated and never overdo it, no matter how tired you feel.
Modified image of coffee beans in a cup from freedigitalphotos.net | By pakorn