The best of caffeine in skincare

Top picks for skin products to perk your face up, just in time for Daylight Savings.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Mar 13, 2021 · 4 min read

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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.

Happy Daylight Savings! …said no one ever. Time is a construct and my circadian rhythm marches to the beat of its own drum. Thankfully, I have my morning cup of coffee and my caffeine eye cream to get me through it.

Surprise, surprise! Caffeine is often good for your skin — well, for the most part. While I wouldn’t recommend dunking your face in a caramel macchiato, coffee-inspired skincare has its perks. As a topical ingredient, caffeine can help temporarily even out skin tone and minimize puffiness because it constricts blood vessels and improves blood flow beneath the skin’s surface.

That said, not all skincare is created equal. The best caffeine skincare products should be free of potentially pore-clogging or irritating ingredients, since using these may not do your skin any favors. So I analyzed the formulas of the most popular caffeinated scrubs, eye creams, and face masks to decide which ones are my all-time favorites.

Coffee scrubs

Scrubs made from coffee grounds physically exfoliate by buffing and polishing the skin — just be mindful of over exfoliation and give your skin a rest in between uses. When it comes to these caffeinated products, I prefer a facial cleanser with a very fine texture that’s gentle on skin, though a more traditional coffee scrub can be great for exfoliating the skin on my elbows and knees!

Origins Ginzing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser

A lightly exfoliating coffee scrub for the face with caffeine from coffee. This is a gentle physical exfoliant that will leave your skin feeling soft and refreshed. — $23 for 5 oz via Origins.

Tree Hut Firming Sugar Scrub Mocha and Coffee Bean

This coffee scrub for the body buffs away dead skin cells to leave skin feeling smooth and revitalized — just keep in mind that there’s no strong evidence that proves coffee scrubs can improve things like cellulite. — $8.99 for 18 oz via Tree Hut.

Caffeine for the eyes

Eye creams with caffeine may help brighten under the eyes in the short-term. Of course, there are a ton of options out there. Since everyone’s skin is different, I reviewed 4 eye creams with caffeine to help you decide which one is right for you.

Supergoop! Bright-Eyed 100% Mineral Eye Cream SPF 40

The ultimate brightening eye cream with SPF illuminates dark circles with caffeine and protects with 14.4% zinc oxide. — $36 for 0.5 oz via Supergoop!.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + ECGC

While this caffeine serum can technically be used all over the face, it’s also one of the most sought after treatments for under-eye circles, thanks to its simple formula and low price point (compared to luxury brands, at least). — $6.70 for 1 oz via Deciem.

The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream

In terms of caffeine cream for eyes, this has been my personal go-to since I first blogged about affordable eye creams for Curology. This moisturizing cream goes on smooth and blends easily into the skin. — $9.99 for 0.5 oz via The Inkey List.

The Ordinary vs. The Inkey List: who did it better?

The Inkey List is a newer brand that competes with The Ordinary’s approach to relatively low cost products with an ingredients-first approach that makes it easy to understand how their skincare works. So which brand does it better?

If price point is your overall concern, go with The Ordinary — they offer the most product per ounce. If performance is most important, then I’d recommend The Inkey List’s eye cream, since its creamy base may help boost brightening effects by hydrating your skin.

Tula Skincare Rose Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm

For a high-end eye cream with caffeine, look no further than this multitasker from TULA. In addition to helping diminish dark circles, it contains hyaluronic acid and rosehip oil to help temporarily plump skin. — $30 for 0.35 oz via Tula.

Caffeine mask

Like coffee scrubs, masks are a great way to give your skin a caffeine boost a few times a week, so they’re an option if you merely want to supplement a skincare routine that’s working well for you.

100% Pure Caffeine Mask

If you turn to skincare for self-care, then allow me to hype up this restorative sheet mask. While caffeine helps to reduce uneven skin tone, aloe vera gel soothes inflammation and helps speed skin healing — while anyone can enjoy its benefits, it’s a great mask for acne-prone skin! — $32 (5 ct) via 100% Pure.

If you need help building a skincare routine that meets your unique needs, start your free trial of Curology. You’ll get a free box with any of our dermatologist-designed skincare products, featuring your Custom Formula, prescribed for you by one of our in-house medical providers with a mix of 3 active ingredients chosen for your skin’s needs. Your first month of Curology is just $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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