Did you know that caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug?
I have to admit that I’m a bit of a caffeine addict; you don’t want to mess with me before I’ve had my morning cup of coffee!
In addition to being a caffeine addict, I am, of course, a skin care fanatic, which is why I am definitely interested in skin care products that contain caffeine. While caffeine is purported to provide numerous skin benefits, it is most often used for skin tightening in products such as eye creams and anti-cellulite products.
So can caffeine really help to tighten the skin? Keep reading below to find out!
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is well known for its presence in coffee and tea. Additionally, caffeine is known to be present in approximately 60 different plant species. The most common sources of caffeine are the beans of the two cultivated coffee plants, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora, cocoa beans, tea leaves, and guarana (Paullinia cupana). When consumed, caffeine reversibly blocks the action of adenosine on its receptor, which prevents the onset of drowsiness induced by adenosine.
In addition to the energy-boosting effects gained from consuming caffeine, there are also benefits of applying caffeine topically. Caffeine penetrates the skin barrier and is absorbed by the surrounding blood vessels, which is why it provides several benefits to the skin. The use of caffeine in skin care products is becoming more and more popular. According to 2018 survey data from the FDA’s Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP), caffeine is reported to be used in 1033 formulations, 882 of which are leave-on products and 151 are rinse-off.
Caffeine for Skin Tightening
After topical application, caffeine has the ability to tighten and firm the skin through multiple mechanisms, which include:
Caffeine functions as an antioxidant, which means that it helps to protect the skin from free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can attack important cellular components, such as DNA, cell membranes, proteins, etc., causing damage. This damage is known as “oxidative stress” and over time this stress can lead to signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Specifically, the main mechanism involved in the direct reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging activity of caffeine is known as radical adduct formation (RAF). This means that caffeine can effectively scavenge the hydroxyl radical (-OH) and the -OCH3 free radical. It is thought that caffeine can help maintain tight, firm skin due to its antioxidant activity.
Additionally, dermatologist Dr. Judith Hellman told Organic Authority, “Caffeine's properties enhance other antioxidant ingredients such as green tea, white tea and resveratrol, providing a boost to those ingredients which neutralize free radicals and improve the texture of the skin”.
As a natural stimulant, caffeine causes vasoconstriction (constriction of the blood vessels) and stimulates blood flow when applied to the skin. Vasoconstriction can tighten and firm the skin due to the removal of excess fluids and possible stimulation of the lymphatic drainage system. This function also aids in reducing the amount of blood that accumulates under the eyes (a major factor that contributes to dark circles). Due to these effects, skin care companies often use caffeine for skin tightening in anti-aging eye creams.
Dehydrates Fat Cells
Companies frequently use caffeine for skin tightening in anti-cellulite products because it prevents excessive accumulation of fat in cells. According to a publication in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, caffeine stimulates the degradation of fats during lipolysis through inhibition of the phosphodiesterase activity.
Furthermore, dermatologist Julie Russak, M.D., explains to Women’s Health, “Caffeine dehydrates the fat cells and stimulates circulation, therefore making the skin appear tighter and smoother, says Russak. However, she notes that these effects are temporary and shouldn't be relied on as long-term solutions.
Other Caffeine Benefits for Skin & Hair
In addition to using caffeine for skin tightening, this natural stimulant can be used in both skin and hair products to provide many other benefits.
Clinical studies have found the caffeine can help to protect cells against damage caused by UV radiation and slow down the process of photoaging of the skin. Studies on mice exposed to radiation examined the effects of topical caffeine application. Results from these studies revealed that caffeine has a sunscreen effect on the skin of mice and also inhibited UVB-induced skin carcinogens. Other studies have shown that caffeine helps block the protein ATR (ataxia telangiectasia), therefore protecting skin against UV damage and, ultimately, reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Helps with rosacea
Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes chronic red flushing, primarily on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead. Skin care products that contain caffeine are thought to help improve the symptoms of rosacea. This is because caffeine constricts small blood vessels and improves circulation, helping to reduce redness.
Caffeine has natural soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and redness. These properties are particularly helpful for those with acne, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Stimulate hair growth
Caffeine has the ability to stimulate hair growth through inhibition of the 5-α-reductase activity. 5-α-reductase is an enzyme in the body that converts testosterone into DHT, which then goes on to cause hair loss. By inhibiting this enzyme, caffeine is thought to prevent hair loss. Additionally, caffeine acts as a vehicle to penetrate into the cells and therefore can help to deliver active ingredients into the hair follicle.
Using Products with Caffeine for Skin Tightening
If you want to start using caffeine for skin tightening, I would recommend trying the following products:
100% PURE Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream (Amazon, $26)
In addition to caffeine, this eye cream contains numerous all natural ingredients that are very beneficial to the skin, such as green tea, aloe, rose water, and rosehip seed oil.
HERBAVANA Exfoliating Body Scrub - Coconut Hemp Coffee Scrub (Amazon, $14.95)
What I really love about this product is the simplicity of the ingredient list, which includes:
Dead Sea Salt, Organic Kona Coffee, Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Organic Avocado Oil, Coffee Arabica Seed Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Argan Oil, Coconut Extract
Have you ever tried using products with caffeine for skin tightening? If so, have they worked for you? Leave me a comment below!