Caffeine in Skincare: A Pick-Me-Up or Pick-Me-Not?

Although caffeine is most commonly recognized as an ingredient in drinks, could it perk you up in ways beyond coffee and tea? In skincare products, caffeine is often included with claims that it can improve afflictions ranging from puffy eyes to cellulite to rosacea. So, as the semester ramps up, consider a different way to use caffeine to start (or end) your day.

 How?

For cosmetic purposes, caffeine is often used as an active ingredient in anti-cellulite products because caffeic acid can help make skin appear smoother. When applied topically to treat cellulite, caffeine dehydrates the skin, releasing excess water from the body. This diuretic effect can thus help diminish an uneven appearance, making the skin look tighter and more toned. Similarly, puffiness around the eyes can also be addressed with the use of topical caffeine.

In addition to cellulite, caffeine also acts as a vasoconstrictor to reduce darkness and redness. Caffeine can decrease the diameter of the blood vessels, constricting blood vessels, which leads to less flushing. Caffeine’s antioxidant and anti-irritant properties help to prevent flare-ups as well; thus, reducing the look of dark undereye circles and rosacea. To a mild degree, Caffeine can also help to reduce photoaging of the skin from UV radiation. 

 Does it work?

Research into caffeine’s effects is mixed. 

Caffeine’s smoothing effect is the reason why it is a popular ingredient in anti-cellulite products. However, cellulite is a fat cell and ultimately cannot be dissolved with a skin cream. The dehydration effects of caffeine simply shrink the skin and fat cells, creating a smoother appearance temporarily. When it comes to puffy eyes, caffeine’s diuretic properties are similarly impermanent.

Caffeine does have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help to combat skin stress as well as redness. However, as a side effect, some individuals may experience skin sensitivity and/or dryness due to caffeine’s constriction of blood vessels. 

 Verdict

There are limits to what caffeine can do for your skin, but it does have value. It certainly is an ingredient worth testing out, but just make sure to do your research first and to indulge in moderation.