Many of us have spent our lives having a love-hate relationship with caffeine. It can help to wake you up in the morning but have too much of it, and the effects go the opposite way. Likewise, one minute you’re told that caffeine is good for you and the next, you’re being told to cut it out. It’s not just ingesting caffeine either – the stimulant has been in and out of skincare products for years.
What does caffeine actually do to your skin, both when drinking it and applying it to your skin topically – is it actually bad for you?
Ingesting caffeine can be both good and bad for your skin, depending on which studies you pay attention to, where you get your information and whether the publication has been backed up by scientific evidence and peer-reviewed studies.
Looking at the positives, caffeine is an antioxidant that can help protect your body from the damage caused by free radicals. These are the molecules that break down some protein structures in your body, such as collagen, which can cause fine lines and wrinkles. Having said this, there is no scientific evidence to show that ingesting caffeine actually has any positive impact on your skin.
So, does this mean that your morning pick-me-up is bad for your skin? No, but only because there’s not enough evidence to back up either side of the argument.
Caffeine is known to dehydrate the body, and dehydration is one of the first causes of fine lines on your skin. Drinking enough water each day is vital to ensuring that your skin looks its best, but if you’re also drinking coffee, you should be extra careful to stay hydrated.
Some studies have also suggested that the high acidity of coffee can interfere with hormones and even increase the amount of oil that your skin produces, leading to worsening skin texture, alongside the inflammation and fine lines that dehydration can cause.
Like ingesting caffeine, the benefits of applying it topically are highly debated, with both advantages and disadvantages.
Going back to the antioxidant argument, applying caffeine to your skin could limit the damage caused by free radicals, but there aren’t many studies available to back up this claim.
One of the main reasons that caffeine has become so popular in skincare is because it has been shown to tighten the skin and improve texture, resulting in visibly smoother skin. Caffeine has two main effects on the skin – first of all it constricts blood vessels near the surface of the skin, temporarily reducing discolouration. It also dehydrates the skin, in particular fat cells, which leads cells on the surface to shrink, resulting in tighter skin and improved texture.
Caffeinated skincare can improve the appearance of your skin, but the key is to realise that it only works for a short period of time. Caffeine doesn’t treat the underlying cause of loose skin or poor texture, which means you’d need to use caffeinated skincare every day, which dehydrates your skin further and potentially worsens the problem in the long run.
If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the effects of caffeinated skincare over a longer period, then discussing any concerns you a qualified skincare professional is the best first step.
If you are struggling with dehydrated skin or are conscious of texture, then medicated skincare could be a great way to improve your skin daily. Obagi works to change your skin on a cellular level, improving not just appearance but skin health over time.
It needs to be prescribed by a dermatologist who will assess your skin, ensure you’re using the best products for your individual needs, and check in regularly to ensure the products are working for you.
If your reason for using caffeinated skincare comes from wanting skin to appear tighter, then ULTRAcel is an excellent way to see long-term tightening effects. ULTRAcel is a non-surgical treatment which tightens, smooths and firms the skin. It works by combining High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) and radio frequency technology to target deep within the skin, encouraging your body to produce new, healthy skin that gives a tighter appearance on the face and neck.
Ultimately, the evidence of caffeine’s effect on the skin is contradictory. There may be short-term benefits to using caffeinated skincare, but there are also several drawbacks. You can still enjoy your morning cuppa, but make sure you’re drinking enough water to counteract the dehydration. Depending on your skincare goals, it may be best to choose skincare products and treatments that are proven to improve your skin in the longer term, rather than just right now.
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