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Many people all around the world enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the morning. Coffee is not only an energy-booster, but it is used as an ingredient in desserts, sauces, seasoning, and even skin care products! The caffeine content of coffee is one of the reasons that it is a viable ingredient for many recipes and it can have some surprising health benefits.
With the growing trend for coffee-based skin care and coffee skin masks, let’s look more closely at the science behind rejuvenating the skin with eye-opening coffee beans.
How Can Coffee Be Beneficial?
Coffee is an antioxidant
According to the American Chemical Society, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants for Americans, even topping foods like goji berries and blueberries! Antioxidants are molecules found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods. Antioxidants exist in many different forms, including phytochemicals such as flavonoids and vitamins, including vitamins C and E. Antioxidants neutralize molecules called free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress (damage) to cells. Antioxidants help to stabilize free radicals and protect against damage to our DNA, cells, and tissues.
Coffee contains natural caffeine
Coffee also contains naturally occurring caffeine. The caffeine found in coffee is what makes it desirable for skin care products. Caffeine is classified as a natural stimulant; it can increase alertness and mental activity when consumed. Caffeine is absorbable when applied to the skin and may be able to improve the appearance of cellulite. There is also some evidence that supports that caffeine may decrease fat accumulation in the skin.
Caffeine protects against ultraviolet light damage
One of the more recently discovered benefits of topical application of caffeine is a sunscreen-like effect. A study found that the application of caffeine to skin before UVB exposure reduced the number of skin lesions and UVB-induced DNA mutations in mice. The same study also found that topical application of caffeine, or caffeine sodium benzoate, to a sunburn enhanced ultraviolet light related apoptosis. Apoptosis is known as controlled cell death and is the death of cells that are damaged. Increased apoptosis at a site of sun damage is beneficial, because it eliminates dangerous, mutagenic skin cells that have potential to go on to become skin cancer.
What Kind of Skin Care Products Use Caffeine?
Some of the more well-known skin care products that contain caffeine are eye creams. Caffeine can help to reduce puffiness and swelling under the eyes by temporarily constricting the blood vessels by dehydration. If applied over long spans of time, the caffeine improves swelling and inflammation by increasing capillary density and blood flow to the tissues. Morning skin care products that claim to help “wake you up” also often contain caffeine. The caffeine is absorbed through the skin and then stimulates the nervous system and increases microcirculation of blood in the area where it is applied. Many cellulite creams also contain caffeine, because it is believed that topical caffeine may help to decrease fat accumulation. Topical application of creams containing caffeine may be able to stimulate the degradation of fat cells. Some cellulite products that are scrubs often contain caffeine or coffee grounds, but the vigorous scrubbing makes the skin swell which reduces the appearance of cellulite without treating the cellulite. The high levels of antioxidants in coffee and coffeeberry also make it a valuable ingredient for anti-aging products. Coffeeberry is an extract from the fruit of coffee plants; it is high in caffeine content and antioxidants like coffee. Antioxidants lower oxidative stress which may reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation.
DIY Coffee Skin Mask or Scrub
For an easy two-ingredient coffee skin mask and scrub:
- Mix one part natural cold-pressed plant oil such as virgin coconut oil, almond oil, or grapeseed oil and one part finely-ground organic coffee beans into a paste
- This can be left on the face for up to 30 minutes or it can double as a scrub depending on the size of the ground coffee beans. The grinds should be small enough to be a gentle exfoliator but should not cause any pain.
- The coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that is high in fatty-acid chains and can be beneficial to dry or inflamed skin. Coconut oil can also help to lower colonization of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on the skin and help prevent infection. Almond oil contains high amounts of antioxidants and has been shown to help prevent UV damage. Grapeseed oil, like many other plant oils, is high in vitamin E and other fatty acids that have moisturizing properties. Virgin or cold-pressed plant oils should be used instead of processed oils because refined oils may contain chemicals that can irritate the skin.
Remember to relax and then rinse with warm water!