How Coffee Affects your Skin, According to Science.

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Coffee, what can be better in the morning? Or even mid day? Its smell, its taste, that brown elixir gives us goosebumps every time we drink it. However, when it comes to our skin, things get questionable. Some articles say coffee dehydrates you skin and causes acne, while others say it actually makes it better.

In short, coffee is good for your skin because of its antioxidant properties, but the way that you drink your coffee could be causing your skin to break out.

So what is coffee? It’s a well known fact that coffee has caffeine, and that’s the main reason we drink in the morning to wake up. You probably know that caffeine can cause dehydration. But is that true? Scientists say that actually caffeine is a very mild diuretic. A review of 10 studies at the University of Connecticut found that 12 out of 15 cases showed that people went to the bathroom the same amount, regardless of whether or not the water they drank had caffeine in it.

That review also claimed that there’s no difference between consuming coffee vs water. However, if you are worried about dehydration of skin — just drink more water.

Might be new, might be not; However, coffee actually contains antioxidants. And we all know how good antioxidants are for our skin. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help your skin health. However, we do know this: free radicals cause signs of aging, like fine lines, wrinkles, and brown spots. Antioxidants (whether consumed orally or applied topically) fight free radicals, and thus, help to fight signs of aging.

So our next question — Is coffee safe? According to Goldenberg, “drinking more than four cups of coffee can be detrimental to your health. But he adds that when consumed in moderation, not only is coffee safe, it has been shown to be beneficial to the skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.” Wow! Good news for all us coffee lovers! By the way, If you're prone to post-coffee anxiety, you may want to document how you feel after each cup of coffee you drink. If coffee is the culprit, trying decaf is an option since you still get the antioxidant benefits, even with the removal of 97% caffeine from the beans.

Okay, so now that we are all so excited about coffee and probably pouring another cup (at least me), let’s talk about acne. Can coffee make acne worse? We all know that stress does no good for us, and as a consequence stress can particularly cause an acne break out. That’s because the stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) that get released can also trigger acne by making your body pump out insulin, which can cause your skin to produce excess oil, overproduce new skin cells, and increase your body’s inflammation levels. Long story short, "Caffeine doesn’t cause acne. However, overconsumption of caffeine has been associated with stress, which is associated with acne." In one study, researchers found that those who drank a cup of coffee before going through a stressful event saw a 211% increase in cortisol levels, versus those who didn’t drink coffee. In other words, coffee can heighten your stress levels, which in turn can cause your body to overproduce insulin: bad news if you’re already struggling with acne.

How you drink your coffee is very important too. “There are studies linking skim milk and dairy milk with acne,” Bowe says. “Whey and casein are the two proteins found in dairy that have been associated with inflammation in the skin, and acne, in particular.” But it's not only coffee creamer to blame. Goldenberg adds, "Inorganic milk can adversely affect your hormones and cause acne—so can white sugar and syrup." So, if you already struggle with acne, you might want to cut back on the creamer and sweetener and start drinking your coffee black.

Okay now that we know benefits of drinking black coffee, how about applying it on our skin? Well, you probably know about wonders of caffeine in your eye cream and body scrub. Study says that actually "Caffeine in topical products has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, "Caffeine in body wraps and topical products can also temporarily decrease appearance of cellulite by dehydrating the tissue, but again, these are short-term effects." In other words, if you like coffee-based skincare products, by all means, keep using them, but don't expect any miracles or long-lasting results, just a whole lot more jittery "awareness" about life.

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