I am probably somewhat of a coffee addict, I also have problematic skin. No morning is complete without a steady drip feed of coffee… Afternoons aren’t so bad, probably just one or two cups of coffee…
But I’m not alone; it is impossible to walk around London, Birmingham, Manchester, or any other city without seeing people getting their fix from a ‘coffee to go’ paper cup or waiting in a mile long queue at Starbucks or Costa at lunch time.
It’s probably more habit than anything else to drink so much coffee. I was thinking the other morning whilst applying make up; is coffee bad for my skin? Could I achieve a better complexion by removing or switching my daily coffee ritual for something else?
I did some research to find out if the daily coffee intake could be affecting my skin; heres what I found – hopefully it will help you too!
Firstly, lets look at how the caffeine in coffee affects the skin
1. Caffeine causes dehydration
Caffeine in found in coffee and is the active ingredient that gives us a perk up when we are feeling slow and sleepy. Unfortunately, caffeine is a diuretic, which in other words – makes you urinate. (This is why caffeine dehydrates you.)
It is common sense (and scientifically proven) that dehydration leads to dry skin. But of course there are varying levels of severity.
Do most of us coffee drinkers need to even worry about the dehydrating effects of coffee?
- Moderately dry skin can look dull and patching
- Severely dry skin can become itchy and flaky
- Prolonged dehydration can increase and quicken the appearance of wrinkles and lines appearing on the face.
These are all pretty serious effects of dehydration that will most likely be the result of multiple contributing factors leading to dehydration – (not just from the consumption of caffeine.)
2. Does caffeine help skin in any way?
There are now products available, where one of the main active ingredients of the face cream is caffeine. As this caffeine has been applied directly to skin and not been consumed – the products claim to dehydrate fat cells, giving you smoother skin.
(I have not used any skin products containing caffeine, so I can’t comment either way.) But I can’t help think that the moisturising agents in these products may be cancelling out the dehydration factor anyway and therefore changing the results.
3. Is it true that coffee has anti-inflammatory effects?
This is both true and false. Coffee contains tannins, (also known as polyphenols) which are said to have anti inflammatory properties. However, through testing, it has been proven that whilst some people may have an anti inflammatory reaction from the consumption of coffee, other people will actually have inflammatory effects.
You may have noticed either reaction after drinking coffee, you will notice the effect more than anyone else.
4. Coffee is an antioxidant – what does this mean for my skin?
The word antioxidant seems to be thrown about all over the place these days. But what does is mean and how does it affect the appearance of skin?
Heres the science bit made simple:
Oxidation is a chemical reaction (similar to when metal goes rusty), that can happen in our bodies.
This oxidation process sometimes produces ‘free radicals’, these ‘free radicals’ are atoms that can damage your cells and therefore in some cases, cause cancer.
Antioxidants prevent oxidation, reducing the number of free radicals in your body.
So to summarise, it is true that coffee in the long term can help you to prevent cancer. But in the short term, the antioxidant properties of coffee are not really going to have an impact on the appearance of your skin.
5. Does coffee cause acne breakouts?
Although there has been for years, and still is, speculation on whether coffee leads to a build up of toxins in the system; leading to acne.
There is no actual proof that this is true.
There are ongoing experiments to test the long term effects of coffee on the liver and the body. However, the current understanding is that a cup of coffee or tea will not harm you and may actually be good to drink; first thing in the morning, for the liver.
So having found out all of that, I was left feeling like a cup of coffee or even two or three cups of coffee, are not really going to affect my skin all that much.
It seems that there are other environmental factors at play in making my skin look rubbish – besides the coffee I drink.
One thing that absolutely will add to the condition of your skin is the stuff you put with your coffee!
- More Milk
- Powders, spinkles and other jazzy decorations
All of these extras add not only calories, fats and more sugar to your diet, but can contribute to premature ageing of the skin. Eeek!
All in all, I have found out that whilst drinking a LOT of coffee and tea without any water in between would have dehydrating effects, leaving skin dull, dry and patchy. However, with a mix of coffee, tea and water or squash in between of those caffeinated drinks, there shouldn’t really be any noticeable effects.
I also now know what an antioxidant is, and whilst they are something to bare in mind, they are not something that will really have an immediate impact of the quality of skin on a day to day basis.
As a surprise to me, coffee can have anti-inflammatory effects. Which is really interesting, and makes me want to try out a caffeine face scrub or moisturiser to see if I can tell the difference.
This isn’t the case for everyone though, and like with most beauty products, it is trial and error until you find one that works.
The best bit about what we have found out here is that my numerous mugs of coffee in the morning are not going to having a dramatic effect on my complexion. By stopping caffeine altogether, there may be a noticeable difference after a few months. However for the slight difference it would make, I am willing to sacrifice it to keep my coffee fix.
The one thing that is easily changed is to swap one or two of your daily usual coffees for a simple black coffee, with no sugars, sweeteners or milk. This will have a positive effect on your diet and could help the condition of your skin too. A good transition from your usual Starbucks high caffiene, high sugar fix, to a more simple, healthier and cheaper option!