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Here’s why you should be using coffee on your skin

Everyone’s favorite morning pick-me-up is not just for drinking

Credit: Getty Images / Knape

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To simply explain what coffee does for your skin is it to glance over the simple fact that, yes, it's a proven, albeit offbeat, ingredient in products. Coffee is multi-purposeful already, making for a great caffeine boost when brewed as a drink, a deodorizer for your trash when you dispose of the used grounds, and a handy fertilizer for your garden that simultaneously deters pests, but more and more, you’ll find it in skincare, too.

What are the skincare benefits of coffee?

The benefits of coffee—whether applied topically or consumed—come down to two key components: caffeine and antioxidants. Caffeine causes vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of blood vessels, which can stabilize or raise blood pressure, retain body heat in cold temperatures, control blood distribution throughout the body, facilitate the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to organs in need, and protect against blood and fluid loss. In terms of why using caffeine to cause vasoconstriction would be helpful in skincare, Dr. Suzanne Friedler, a board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC in New York City, says there are two noticeable effects: “It’ll help to seal up your pores a little bit [and] it may help to decrease a little bit of redness.”

Separate from caffeine, coffee boasts antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, which are atoms missing electrons in the skin caused by pollution or the sun, that studies show may cause premature aging. Balancing out the free radicals subsequently decreases any inflammation caused by them, as oxidative stress (an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants) can lead to inflammation. Inflammation is linked to aging, although what happens on a molecular level to cause deterioration is not quite understood.

What results might you expect from coffee-infused skin products?

Like any skincare, not all products and methods that work for someone else will work for you. However, if you come across a coffee-based skincare product, such a face mask, serum, body scrub, or lotion, now you know not to write it off as gimmicky. “It may not be for everyone, but for somebody who has rosacea, it might provide a temporary effect,” Friedler says. The vasoconstriction from caffeine is the leading benefit for rosacea (redness in the skin caused by enlarged blood vessels). Even if you don’t have more visible signs of irritation that vasoconstriction addresses, like redness or inflammation, your skin can benefit from the antioxidants in coffee.

While the caffeine and antioxidants work their magic, the physical coffee grounds provide a gentle physical exfoliant for your skin. When combined with water, oil, soap, or lotion, the grounds can physically buff away any dead skin cells, which causes skin cells to turn over faster, resulting in a brighter, more even skin tone.

Coffee products you can incorporate into your routine

If you’re looking to add a pick-me-up into your routine, try one of these coffee-rich products.

Frank Body Original Coffee Scrub

Frank Body
Credit: Frank Body

Bring this scrub in the shower with you to wake up your skin.

A delicious-sounding ingredient list on a body scrub is not a necessity, but it is an added bonus for this one from Frank Body. Roasted and ground Robusta coffee beans buff away flaky skin, cacao extract gives you a boost of antioxidants, cold pressed macadamia and sweet almond oils hydrate. Bonus: The actual coffee grounds make for a yummy scent.

Get the Frank Body Original Coffee Scrub at ULTA for $9.95

Spa of the World: Ethiopian Green Coffee Cream

The Body Shop
Credit: The Body Shop

Bring moisture back into your skin with this body cream.

Post-scrub, moisturize your skin with this coffee body cream from The Body Shop. The company claims the inclusion of Ethiopian green coffee makes the skin feel smoother and look firmer while olive oil hydrates. It doesn’t smell like coffee, but one reviewer likened the fresh scent to “a forest with a fresh layer of fallen rain.”

Get the Spa of the World: Ethiopian Green Coffee Cream at The Body Shop for $36

Lush Cup O’ Coffee

Lush
Credit: Lush

Apply this scrub to your face for gentle exfoliation.

If you want to smell coffee right under your nose (hello, wake-up call), this mask from Lush is gentle enough to be massaged into the skin, and you can let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Coffee grounds remove any dry skin while kaolin (a type of clay) cleanses your pores.

Get the Cup O’ Coffee Face and Body Mask at Lush for $11.95

UpCircle Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil

UpCircle
Credit: UpCircle

Hydrate and brighten your skin with this serum.

For hydration, natural beauty brand UpCircle makes a serum with jojoba and sea buckthorn oils to moisturize, and coffee, vitamin C, and rosehip oil even out the skin tone. Just put a few drops in your palm and massage into the face. This one also lacks a coffee smell, but serums are less about the olfactory experience since you’ll follow up with a moisturizer after.

Get the UpCircle Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil on Credo Beauty for $20

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