Many of us start their days with some form of caffeine in our cups or increasingly on our faces. Nowadays, finding caffeine in your skin care products – from lotions to eye creams – is not uncommon. But … what is it doing there anyway?
With so many of us having to rely on a cup of coffee in the morning, it makes sense to assume that a moisturizer or eye cream with caffeine "wakes" your skin. But it does not work that way.
Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it narrows the blood vessels. The idea is that the use of a vasoconstrictor such as caffeine on red, swollen, or otherwise slightly inflamed skin reduces blood flow to the area, thereby reducing the occurrence of inflammation.
Some skincare creams that contain redness contain caffeine as an ingredient, but it's most commonly found in eye creams and so-called "slimming creams" for your body that claim to reduce cellulite.
That sounds great, but does one of those products actually work?
Here's what The research says about caffeine-added cosmetics.
"The studies that were conducted on caffeine were relatively mixed, [with] some did not show an effect and some . John G. Zampella, Deputy Professor in the Department of Dermatology of Ronald O. Perelman at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF. In practice, caffeinated products have proven to be effective in some situations and ineffective or even harmful in others. For example, if you are dealing with dark eyes caused by swelling, caffeine might be a good choice – but maybe not so much if they are caused by something else . "I wish there was a really great cure for dark circles, but not all are due to swelling," says Suzan Obagi, M.D., UPMC dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology and plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, told SELF. "[Caffeine’s] will only help if your problem is swelling." (And also these dates are not particularly convincing.)
So, if your designer's bags were handed to you from generations after like a family heirloom, caffeine does not help. But if you feel a little bloated and irritated with the last night's margaritas, it could make a difference. The same applies to redness: An over-the-counter caffeine cream can throw back a mild flush, but moderate to severe rosacea requires something stronger.
As for cellulite, Caffeine could help a little . Maybe . In this case, the mechanism is somewhat different: in addition to restricting blood vessels some experts believe that caffeine can stimulate the enzymes that degrade fat . It is plausible that this could lead to a reduction in cellulite, and indeed a very small 2015 study in the Annals of Dermatology observed just that.
Researchers Involved 15 Participants Apply a caffeine-containing cellulite cream twice daily to the thighs and inner upper arms for six weeks. After this time, 12 of the 15 participants stated that their cellulite had improved. On average, the circumference of their thighs decreased by 0.7 cm and their upper arms by 0.8 cm in these six weeks. Here, however, there were some obvious limitations, including the small sample size and lack of placebo control.
Is it risky to put caffeine on your skin?
Keep in mind that caffeine products are supposed to reduce redness, in fact causing a transient increase in redness, called rebound redness. Why? Regularly narrowed blood vessels can pass into the hyperdrive without the usual dose of caffeine.
"Let's say you drink coffee every day. Then one day you forget to drink your coffee, or someone turns it over for a break, and you get a freaking headache, "Dr. Obagi. "You get the throb in your head [because]. These [blood] vessels have expanded even more. "We know that prescription vasoconstrictors such as brimonidine may cause a rebound moisturizers with caffeine because they have a similar mechanism of action. (Brimonidine is also used to treat redness in which a similar rebound effect has been observed . .)
Dr. However, Zampella points out that caffeine is by far not as effective as prescription vasoconstrictors that reduce the effect of repercussion redness compared to these other treatments. He also says that his patients who have tried caffeine creams for rosacea really like them. "If [you] has redness, [caffeine] is a very reasonable attempt," he says.
If this does not work for you – or you notice an increase in redness – you should stop using it and try something else.
What else should I know before using caffeine skin care?
We know that caffeine is generally quite good at penetrating the skin barrier and being absorbed into the bloodstream. Theoretically, too much topical caffeine could cause caffeine toxicity which can be fatal and is mainly associated with powder and other highly concentrated caffeine products .
This is probably not a big deal with eye creams and moisturizers because there is so little caffeine in them and you use so few of them at the same time anyway. However, cellulite creams typically contain higher levels of caffeine and are applied to a much larger area of skin. "We do not know if there's a limit to how much you can apply to your skin without actually having a more systemic effect," Dr. Apply Obagi cream in the thinnest possible layer and on the affected area.
Do pregnant women in general need to be aware of how much caffeine they put into their bodies, and do they have to worry about these products as well? Well, just to put things in perspective, pregnant people are usually advised to consume less than 200 mg of caffeine per day (roughly what's in a 12 ounce cup of coffee). "A topical formulation does not contain that much by any means, but if someone is pregnant and drinking coffee," Dr. Zampella, it may be worthwhile to learn about topical caffeine products during pregnancy, or at least consult your doctor before using them. "But we do not have safety data," says Dr. Obagi.
Is caffeine a wonder drug in skin care? Well, like any cosmetic, probably not. So, if you are dealing with a problem that does not improve with OTC skin care products, it is important to see a dermatologist who can assess your individual skin needs. But if it helps you feel better about your skin, that's the most important thing.