Caffeine for skin: what are the benefits of caffeine in skin care?

  • 5 min read

Most of us will have at some point pined for a freshly brewed coffee. Perhaps it was on the train, as your eyes grew heavy, the ticket inspector announcing that once again a crisp packet on the line had delayed your journey. Maybe it was first thing in the morning, after your cat decided 5am was a perfectly reasonable hour to ask for food. Either way we know the real reason we crave it so much. Caffeine, and all the energising power it brings. 

Drinking caffeine clearly has its effects. However, that’s only if you drink it, right? Surely those caffeine loaded shampoos don’t actually wake you up? Does caffeine-infused skincare really make you glow or is just your imagination saving you from the embarrassment of paying for snake oil? Luckily the boffins in the lab have worked long and hard to get to the bottom of this contentious issue. So grab a coffee, take a sip and read on. Their findings might just cause a bit of a buzz.

Can caffeine be absorbed through skin?

Surprisingly, yes – caffeine can be absorbed through skin. In fact, a study found that when applied to the skin, a significant amount of caffeine actually makes its way all the way through. This suggests that its effects are not only genuine but that you could theoretically get your morning fix just by lying in a coffee bath for half an hour. Obviously you might get a couple of puzzled looks if you were to put that theory to the test. But, if in doubt, you could just look up and whisper “it’s for science”.

Clearly it takes longer to absorb substances through our skin than stomach – that’s why evolution kindly gave us mouths. However, even in five minutes, caffeine makes its way into the epidermis, the top layer of skin. This means that products such as Coffee Scrubs, Creams and Serums, which sit on the skin for longer, are more effective at improving its feel and look.

What exactly are the caffeine skin care benefits?

Caffeine is anti-inflammatory

Caffeine is a kind of molecule known as a vasoconstrictor; simply put, it makes blood vessels smaller. This not only prevents skin puffiness but can make it appear less red too, due to the reduction in the amount of blood at the skin surface. While this is true everywhere, it works particularly well on the face and under the eyes, where darker patches are generally more visible and likely to appear.

Caffeine can help repair sunburnt skin

Studies have shown that applying caffeine to sunburnt skin might actually reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer, effectively encouraging damaged cells to selflessly fall on their swords before they can cause any trouble. It goes without saying that it is not a replacement for a high factor sunscreen. But after a day in the sun it seems to have significant benefits.

Caffeine can reduce the appearance of cellulite

While we fully support the natural appearance of skin in all its cellulite and stretch mark glory, we understand that many people would like to improve their cellulite. It has been found that caffeine-infused skincare products helped to significantly reduce the appearance of cellulite in test subjects. Caffeine achieves this by aiding in the dehydration of those pesky fat cells.

Caffeine is an antioxidant

You’ve probably heard of the term free radicals. They’re kind of like tiny bouncy balls in your body, flying around indiscriminately and smashing up the furniture. Fortunately caffeine is a powerful antioxidant, acting to remove these from your system. This basically means your skin cells stay in top condition for longer, delaying the appearance of wrinkles and keeping you looking as fresh as a double shot, almond milk, skinny maccifrappichino.

What about coffee oil?

Coffee oil has some truly show-stopping benefits for skin. It’s one of our favourite ways to incorporate coffee into your skincare routine, as it restores moisture levels and locks them in.

Aside from the benefits of caffeine outlined above, coffee oil has the added advantages of increasing collagen and elastin. As a result, it helps skin look and feel firmer, having a similar effect on skin to hyaluronic acid. That’s why we have included coffee oil in our best-selling Face Serum. Plus, we’ve also added it into our new Eye Cream because of its amazing skin brightening abilities.

And let’s not forget that heavenly natural coffee scent!

What should I look for in a caffeine skin care product?

So this is an important part. Not all products are created equal. While many extol the virtues of caffeine on their labels, they do not always sit long enough on the skin to have any noticeable effect. Shower gels, for example, are generally washed away immediately. This means they’re largely pointless unless you want to lather up and slide around the room for five minutes.

Scrubs, serums and oils are the most effective products for really reaping the benefits of coffee as a skincare ingredient. Here are our best coffee skincare products:

Face Serum: Our Hydrating Face Serum with Coffee Oil is UpCircle’s best-selling product. Our customers rave about its ability to keep skin firm and bright, with its impressive collagen boosting abilities.

Face & Body Scrubs: Where it all started, our Coffee Scrubs were the first creation of UpCircle and have continued to be a staple ever since. Coffee scrubs have the added benefit of removing layers of dead skin, helping the caffeine to make its way directly to the healthy layers quicker and more effectively.

Eye Cream: With its impressive skin brightening effects, we simply had to include coffee oil in our new eye cream. A gentle cream that will reduce the appearance of dark circles and revive the delicate eye area.

Is caffeine in skin care suitable for sensitive skin?

As an all-natural ingredient, caffeine is suitable for all skin types. Whether you have dry skin, acne-prone skin, or sensitive skin, your skin will benefit from the smoothing and healing properties of caffeine. When buying any caffeine skin care products, just be sure to read the other ingredients too.

Final thoughts on caffeine for skin

So there you go, the scientists have given their (rather smooth) thumbs up. Of course the most vital aspect to choosing caffeine based skincare is knowing how it was made. Make your skin and your mind feel fab by choosing cruelty-free, sustainable products – made locally and with natural ingredients. Follow those simple rules and you’ll be glowing in no time.