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Caffeine and Skin Health: Truths, Myths, and Everything in Between

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In spite of ample blog posts, as well as overall steady coverage about coffee and, more specifically, caffeine in the media, the public’s thirst for knowledge about this compound still isn’t satiated. Is caffeine good for the skin or not? If you’re under the impression that the great caffeine debate isn’t showing signs of subsiding, you’re right. There’s a lot of confusion and conflicting data about caffeine and skin health. Let’s try to navigate our way through.

Why caffeine has a bad rep

There are two simple explanations as to why caffeine has a bad rep. First of all, people tend to be reserved about substances that give us the mildest energy kick, even if they naturally appear in common plants or foods. Secondly, it seems that there are as many downsides as there are upsides attached to caffeine.

The less obvious reason for caffeine’s constant presence in “is it good for you or not” debates has less to do with nutrition or science, and more to do with marketing. Keeping the buzz alive for caffeine and other controversial ingredients in fields such as the skincare industry keeps it relevant, and at the top of the search results in online searches.

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After all, considering how many myths and blatant exaggerations appear on the talk shows, in magazines, and in blog posts around skincare, you really can’t blame them. 

Caffeine and health: positives and negatives

Caffeine and skin health--positives and negatives

How a cup of joe in the morning, and maybe even another one in the afternoon affects overall health and specific organs and systems, is a topic one could write an entire textbook about. While there are certainly detrimental affects associated with overconsumption of caffeine, there are some known benefits. For instance, many detox protocols utilize coffee to encourage natural colon and liver cleansing.

Furthermore, one of the most lauded benefits of caffeine intake on a regular basis is the reduced chance of developing dementia in later stages of life. Overall, it promises a better outlook for efficient memory retention and cognitive performance for many people.

On the flip side, too much coffee or caffeine may contribute to digestive or adrenal dysfunction.

In the realm of topical skincare, caffeine is a double-edged sword.

The positive

Firstly, caffeine is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, which make it an effective ingredient for reducing puffiness. Caffeine-based moisturizers can be a welcome addition to skincare for active people as well as anyone whose skin needs a refreshing antioxidant boost.  

Caffeine is also vasoconstrictive, which when topically applied, can temporarily help to reduce the appearance of redness from dilated capillaries as one might see in rosacea or general telangiectasia. Caffeine also stimulates adipose cells and tissue, which may help improve the appearance of cellulite.

The negative

Caffe late

On the other hand, caffeine’s vasoconstrictive property means that it decreases circulation. This might not be ideal internally, because it causes the heart to work harder to circulate bloodflow, which can actually slow nutrient delivery to the dermis.

Caffeine is also a well-known stimulant and a diuretic. After drinking a cup of coffee, green tea, or black tea in the morning, people tend to need to visit the lavatory shortly after. This excessive urination may mean bad news for the skin, since it promotes dehydration.

When it comes to caffeine and skin health, you also have to consider its stimulating properties. Sure enough, caffeine doesn’t affect your skin directly when ingested through a beverage, but it does affect your ability to reach REM sleep if you overindulge–especially later in the day. Inadequate or poor quality sleep directly affects your skin’s ability to regenerate and rejuvenate.

Discerning between fact and myth

Ultimately, drawing a clear line between facts and myths will put you in the right frame of mind when it comes to thinking critically about caffeine and its effects on your skin.

Caffeine offers a range of benefits when consumed in drinks or foods such as dark chocolate. It aids in colon and liver cleansing, may reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, promotes better memory, and even boasts some anti-cancer properties.

As an ingredient in skincare products, caffeine soothes inflammation, may improve the appearance of dark blotches, fights free radicals, and even helps reduce the appearance cellulite beneath the skin. However, it can be dehydrating, so it might not be the best choice for people who have dry skin.

Overall, caffeine is just like any other natural compound that occurs in widely consumed ingredients: the benefits are there, but they are limited, and too much of anything can lead to undesirable results.

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What have you noticed about caffeine and skin health either personally or in your practice?

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About the author:

Guest author Caitlin Evans

Caitlin Evans is a bookworm, writer and recreational dancer. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and the Universe, Cate is researching and writing about various health and well-being related topics. Connect with Caitlin on Twitter

*Images via unsplash

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