Caffeine in Skin Care Products: Does It Really Work?
Caffeine isn't just for the morning anymore.
Why Caffeine Is Added to Skin Care Products
While it may sound too good to be true, these caffeinated skin care lovers may have something to offer.
"When used in skin care, caffeine reduces blood flow to the skin, making it appear brighter and firmer," says Dr. Hsu. "It's often seen as an anti-aging or wrinkle-smoothing ingredient in facial treatments, eye treatments and even body treatments."
The key to making skincare products work is the right formulation. In particular, the right amount of caffeine can be an effective ingredient to refresh the brain, eliminate dark circles and reduce facial puffiness.
Several studies, such as one published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science in August 2020, have shown that caffeine molecules are small enough to pass through the top layers of the skin, Hsu explained. So they can really go deep into the skin. work inside. .
It's worth noting that just because a product claims it contains caffeine doesn't mean it will give you the benefits you're looking for, he says.
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"For caffeine to be effective as previously reported, it needs to be taken in highly concentrated doses," Hsu said. "I always recommend medical-grade skin care products to my patients because they are backed by controlled studies that demonstrate the product's formulation, ingredient clarity and effectiveness."
Hsu added that marketing terms like "clinically proven" and "professional grade" are not the same as "medical grade" when reviewing skin care labels. "Medical grade products are dispensed in a doctor's office or medical spa with a medical supervisor overseeing their operations."
Potential Benefits of Caffeine Skin-Care Products
Caffeine works primarily through circulation, so it acts quickly, protects against oxidative stress, and has anti-inflammatory effects on the skin, says Ife Rodney, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Fuller, MD. , says the founder of Eternal Dermatology and Aesthetics. London.
Caffeine also prevents photodamage, such as fine lines and wrinkles after sun exposure. "Studies show that consuming caffeine after exposure to UVA and UVB rays can help," says Dr. Rodney. "You'll get an immediate boost and protection from oxidative stress, but that can wear off over time. Skincare products should contain other active ingredients that help repair the skin."
Some other skin-friendly ingredients include aloe vera, tea tree oil, shea butter, vitamin C and jojoba oil, says Rodney. "They both contain antioxidants, which reduce oxidative stress and even help repair damaged cells," she explains.
"For example, in a study in mice, topical application of caffeine promoted apoptosis, or cell death, in cells damaged by sunburn," he wrote in Biology, Medicine and Biochemistry. Cited December 2021 publication.
It was said in a journal article. "Researchers conclude that topical caffeine induces actual cell death in squamous cell carcinomas and benign skin tumors." Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer. Of course, large-scale clinical trials will be needed to determine whether people will see the same cancer-fighting effects.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Caffeine in Skin Care?
The biggest downside, Rodney says, is that caffeine's skin benefits only work for a short time. "Caffeine is a temporary fix and won't fix wrinkles or bags under the eyes," she says. "You should still invest in other skin care products that work well with this product and target your specific skin concerns long-term." Examples include cleansers with salicylic acid, serums with vitamin C and niacinamide, amide-based moisturizers and broads, suggests Rodney. - Spectrum Sunscreen.
Caffeine can also irritate your skin, causing redness due to increased blood flow. If you have sensitive skin or are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to test this ingredient in small amounts on limited areas of your skin first.
"I recommend doing a small patch test, about the size of a dime, behind the ear or on the chin," Hsu said. "Do it a few times and see how your skin reacts before you use it."
Caffeine Skincare Products Dermatologists Love
One of the most popular skincare products is their caffeine eye cream. Actor Gemma Chan and musician Alana Haim apparently swear by this formula to reduce puffy eyes in the morning.
According to a March 2022 paper in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, it contains a popular anti-aging peptide called Matrixyl 3000, which is known to improve anti-wrinkle properties, but its degree of penetration into the skin is limited. More research is needed to determine.
This isn't the only product you'll find caffeine in—the ingredient is already found in serums, body scrubs, and even cellulite treatments. Keep in mind that the skin care properties of caffeine are better for some types of products than others. For example, caffeine toner is a product to consider skipping.
Due to the low concentration of caffeine in toners and the short-lived effect, it's unlikely that caffeinated toners will offer more benefits than other toners on the market, Rodney said. A cream or serum containing caffeine will have a stronger effect, she says.
If you want to try the caffeine skincare trend, dermatologists recommend the following products.
1. Biossance Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream
According to Rodney, the product combines caffeine with botanical derivatives, which are active ingredients that help soothe the skin, stimulate cell turnover, or provide extra moisture. It also contains squalene, which an April 2022 study in Biotechnology Trends showed to hydrate the skin, she says.
2. Interfuse Treatment Cream EYE
This medical-grade product contains Kakadu berry extract, which is rich in antioxidants and helps fight free radicals, which help break down collagen, an effect that can lead to fine lines and wrinkles can lead to premature aging, says Hsu.
A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Botanical Cosmetics and Natural Ingredients found that when Kakadu berry extract was added to face creams, it maintained high antioxidant activity.
3. The Ordinary Caffeine + ECGC Depuffing Eye Serum
Rodney likes this product because the caffeine comes from green tea, which has more antioxidants than the caffeine in coffee. "Antioxidants are great for repairing the delicate skin around the eyes," she says.
"It also contains hyaluronic acid, which helps keep the skin under the eyes plump and hydrated," notes Rodney. Research It supports the idea that hyaluronic acid helps rejuvenate the skin and stimulate the production of collagen, which keeps the skin firm and elastic.
4. ZO Skin Health Cellulite Control Cream
In addition to caffeine, this medical-grade product recommended by Hsu also contains plankton extracts to hydrate the skin. A June 2020 review published in the journal Marine Medicine found that foods like seafood have a range of skin-supporting benefits, from reducing hyperpigmentation to reducing wrinkles.