Skip to content
Can Caffeine Really Benefit Your Skin? A Closer Look at Your Cup of Joe

September 11, 2020 | Cameron Gordon

Can Caffeine Really Benefit Your Skin? A Closer Look at Your Cup of Joe

If you’re one of those people who can’t even in the mornings without a cup of joe, you’ll be pleased to learn those leftover coffee grounds can benefit you in other ways as well. There’s a lot of hype surrounding the claim that caffeine can tighten your skin, but one thing the experts can agree on is that caffeine contains soothing properties, provides antioxidant benefits, and constricts blood vessels.

The caffeine in coffee grounds is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that when it’s applied topically, it constricts the blood vessels which helps reduce inflammation and puffiness. Additionally, it tightens and brightens the skin and can visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite— a major win for everyone, even those who steer clear of overpriced lattes and cold brews served in quirky mason jars.

But you don’t have to brew a bathtub-sized portion of Folger’s to achieve the many benefits of caffeine. Making a mask, scrub, or paste from fresh coffee grounds and applying them to your skin directly will get you the results you’re looking for.

Whether your scalp needs a revival, your body needs thorough exfoliation, or your puffy eyes need a bit of relief, caffeine can come to the rescue. Here are five ways caffeine can benefit your skin and be incorporated into your skincare routine.

Gently Exfoliate From Head to Toe

Coffee grounds are a gentle yet effective way to exfoliate your skin and slough away dead skin cells. The caffeic acid in coffee grounds boosts collagen levels and can even reduce the premature aging of cells.

Along with being a powerful antioxidant, caffeic acid also has antimicrobial properties. This means that coffee grounds, when applied topically, may help protect the skin against germs. Although that claim needs more research, the exfoliation benefits are still pretty amazing on their own.

To DIY your own exfoliating scrub, combine:

  • one-quarter cup fresh coffee grounds
  • one-quarter cup brown sugar
  • enough lemon juice for the desired consistency

Scrub the mixture into the skin once every few days after cleansing your body in the shower or bath. Let the scrub sit on the skin for a few minutes, then rinse it off.

And while you’re on your journey to smooth skin, don’t forget those hard-working feet of yours. Coffee can both smooth and soften the skin on your feet, including the thick skin that builds up on your soles. The grounds work to slough off dead skin cells, and the caffeine’s stimulating effects increase blood flow and circulation to the area.

To DIY a spa-worthy foot bath:

  • Brew a few large cups of coffee
  • Add both the coffee and the used grounds to a small bucket or tub.
  • Allow the coffee to cool so you don’t scorch your skin
  • Soak the feet in the coffee and use the grounds to scrub away dead skin cells.

Decrease Puffiness

Although the effects are temporary, caffeine improves puffiness by improving circulation in the skin. In this case, you’d want to use products containing caffeine daily in order to see results on a regular basis.

This boost in circulation can significantly improve the appearance of under-eye puffiness while also giving your skin a nice, healthy glow.

If you’re looking to DIY a caffeine paste to help combat undereye circles and puffiness, try this:

  • Combine ½ tsp each of coffee grounds and olive oil. Add in a couple drops of water to make a small paste in your hand.
  • Gently pat underneath your eyes without rubbing.
  • Leave the mixture on for five to ten minutes.
  • Rinse off with water or gently wipe the mask with a soft cloth. Repeat as often as needed.

Reduce the Appearance of Fat and Cellulite

When used as a cosmetic ingredient, especially for cellulite, caffeine has the ability to dissolve fat below the skin by converting it to fatty acids. The fat can then be removed by the blood circulation and metabolized to energy and carbon dioxide. No, this doesn’t mean rubbing coffee grounds all over your body is going to make you magically lose weight. What caffeine does help with, however, is the reduction of subdermal fat.

Caffeine is the primary ingredient in slimming and anti-cellulite creams as it’s formulated with ingredients that also aid in blood flow and stimulate the removal of that fatty acid layer of the skin. This makes it a great facilitator in reducing the appearance of cellulite, albeit temporarily.

Aid With Collagen Production

In the same way caffeine won’t magically turn you into a productivity machine but can help get you going, caffeine can assist collagen in its production. Antioxidants are substances that help to protect the body from free radicals which are the molecules that can damage the body. And while not all antioxidants will boost collagen production, they can help the collagen that is present to do the best job it can.

By using products that contain antioxidants like the ones that are found in caffeine, you can limit the amount that your body produces free radicals, which are what cause fine lines and wrinkles. Caffeine helps protect the skin against damage from UV radiation and slows down the process of aging caused by sun exposure.

To DIY your own coffee ground scrub, try this simple at home remedy:

  • 1 c coffee grounds
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp sea salt or sugar
  • empty jar
  • Measure out the dry ingredients and combine in a large measuring cup or bowl. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave if solid, and add to the mixture. Mix well. Transfer contents to a waterproof jar or container.
  • Optional: Before getting in the shower, use your dry brush to exfoliate and stimulate blood flow. Brush lightly in a circular motion on any problem areas, or all over your body to reap the full benefits of dry brushing.
  • In the shower, apply your scrub to areas with cellulite. Massage the scrub onto skin in a circular motion before rinsing. Repeat every time you shower for best results.

Beyond Skincare: Balance Your Hair and Scalp

The scalp and hair are naturally acidic. The lower the pH value of a substance, the more acidic it is. To give you some perspective, a pH value of under 7.0 is considered acidic, while a pH above 7.0 is basic, or alkaline. Your hair fibers contain a pH of 3.67, while the scalp has a pH of 5.5. When you use hair products with a higher pH value, you wind up with dull, frizzy hair that’s damaged.

Just like your scalp and hair, coffee is also naturally acidic. The American Dental Association gives a pH value of 5.11 to the medium roast of a major brand. Coffee or coffee grounds can actually rebalance the pH levels of the hair and scalp when applied topically.

To achieve results, you can either rinse your hair with cold, brewed coffee, or you can massage coffee grounds directly onto your scalp. The latter will scrub away dead skin cells from the scalp.

What You Should Know Beforehand

Too much topical caffeine can lead to caffeine toxicity, but for the most part, your eye creams and moisturizers won’t have that effect as there just isn’t enough caffeine content in them. That said, cellulite creams can have higher concentrations of caffeine and are used on a much larger area of the skin.

So, much like with pretty much everything in skincare, be mindful of how often you’re using topical products containing caffeine, including your DIY scrubs and soaks.

Caffeine may not be some skincare savior miracle ingredient, but it can certainly be an uplifting addition to your beauty routine. The best added bonus to coffee scrubs: the smell! Your shower will smell like a cozy coffee shop and your skin will be nice and smooth. Just remember to thoroughly wash your bathtub or shower stall out unless you want your roommate or partner to entirely freak out when they use the facilities after you’re finished.

What’s your favorite serums and creams containing caffeine? Have you ever DIYed a coffee scrub? Drop a comment below and let us in on your caffeinated picks for perked up, smooth skin.