Coffee and skin care? It might surprise you to learn that in 2006 in the United States over 140 skin care products containing caffeine were launched compared to just 21 in 2003.
Coffee had a hard time of it in the 20th century while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration waffled over whether it was good or bad for you. As we move solidly into the 21st century, more indications of coffee’s beneficial properties are surfacing, and nowhere is that more evident than in the lucrative skin care market.
Primarily, coffee and caffeine are finding their way into skin lotions and creams because of their antioxidant properties and tightening and firming qualities. Caffeine applied to the skin operates in three ways – as an antioxidant, a diuretic, and a vasoconstrictor. Among others, Avon, Neutrogena, and L’Oreal have included caffeine in some of their products.
For years, caffeine has been used in products sold to reduce cellulite. Caffeine dehydrates fat cells by somehow energizing them which in turn causes the sodium/potassium component of the cells to vacate. Consequently, the water disappears as well. Bottom line – skin on buttocks and thighs becomes smoother.
Caffeine’s vaso-constricting characteristic also makes it a favorite ingredient in eye gels for reducing puffiness and dark circles as well as tightening the skin around the eyes. Of course, nothing eliminates cellulite or troubled skin around the eyes. The best you can hope for is a noticeable improvement, perhaps only for a few hours.
With the explosion in coffee-based skin products, it now is seen in body scrubs, face creams, and fragrances. Several products even smell like coffee and contain ground coffee intended as an exfoliate. Some purveyors have even gone so far as to suggest that the absorption of caffeine through the skin will yield the sort of alertness you can expect from drinking coffee.
Not so fast say the dermatologists. None of the products harbor concentrations sufficient to produce the jolt one might hope for from a cup of java. Moreover, absorption is through the skin slow, so it’s questionable whether enough of coffee’s stuff can penetrate to enhance alertness. Infusing the coffee aroma in products is thought, on the other hand, to stimulate perkiness by association.
Some promising studies on mice suggest that the caffeine in coffee may kill off skin cancer cells in radiated animals. So far, the results appear promising, but cannot, as yet, be translated to humans. However, many sunscreens do contain caffeine since it has been shown to have some sun-blocking effects.
A few folks are even suggesting that investment in expensive skin care potions is unnecessary. It’s claimed that you can receive the same benefits by concocting your home-brewed coffee soaps and body scrubs from used coffee grounds. Formulas are even offered.
Hey, now you can shower with your espresso!