Is coffee good or bad for your skin?

Caffeine in skincare, explained.

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Curology Team
May 15, 2020 · 3 min read

We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

A cup of coffee, a skincare regimen: two morning rituals done many ways. Brew your coffee hot or cold. Throw back a potent cortado or indulge in a thick frappe, drizzled in caramel. But if you’re wondering if coffee is good or bad for your skin, the never-ending debate based on new research insights can be confusing. Thankfully, you don’t have to give up coffee completely to achieve your skin goals. Let’s get a few things straight about coffee and skincare.

Is drinking coffee bad for skin?

The good news: coffee isn’t bad for your skin — depending on how you like your coffee prepared. Certain food groups, like sugar and dairy, mess around with hormones, which can result in a breakout. To make a long story short: coffee on the darker side is best for your skin. If black coffee isn’t for you, dairy-free milks made from nuts and rice can be both skin-friendly and tasty.

Coffee beans are a rich source of antioxidants and are good for your health, skin included. In skincare, antioxidants help to block free radicals from causing damage. Free radicals are unstable atoms that cause damage on a cellular level, warping the structure of your skin and causing fine wrinkles.

Caffeine itself can cause blood sugar to spike, which can lead to breakouts. Thankfully, this doesn’t usually happen with coffee (though there are exceptions). There’s not a clear explanation as to why coffee is largely spared from being a skincare foe, but it might be due to its high antioxidant content.

But it’s wise to skip the sodas and energy drinks if you’re prioritizing your skin. Since synthetic caffeine doesn’t typically possess antioxidants unless they’re added, there’s no reason to believe these beverages are giving your skin any boost. Plus, they’re often packed with sugar (which we’ve already said can wreak havoc on the skin).

Skin-safe caffeinated beverages

  • Black coffee

  • Coffee with non-dairy milk

  • Green tea

Suspects to skip

  • Coffee with milk and sugar

  • Energy drinks

  • Soda

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Coffee in skincare

Eye creams. While coffee is sometimes used in skincare for its lovely aroma, caffeine extracted from coffee may actually have skin benefits, too. When applied to the skin, caffeine constricts blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface, which may help in evening skin tone and minimizing puffiness. Eye creams with caffeine may help brighten under the eyes in the short-term. Look for eye creams that list caffeine, green tea extract, and coffee extract as ingredients.

Coffee scrubs. Facial scrubs made from coffee grounds physically exfoliate by buffing and polishing the skin. If you opt for physical exfoliation, moderation is absolutely key. Scrubs can often be too harsh for daily use, so gently massaging a facial scrub into damp skin once or twice a week is plenty. Scrubbing too hard or too often can create microtears in the skin — ouch!

Wake up to better skin

Making skincare a part of your daily self-care ritual can boost your skin’s health, and it doesn’t need to be complicated! With the right products, your skincare routine can do most of the work while you sleep. When you sign up for Cuology, one of our in-house medical providers will prescribe you a custom cream with a mix of 3 ingredients for your skin concerns, from acne to signs of aging. Sign up for Curology and get your first month free — just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping and handling.

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