For as long as caffeine addicts can remember, coffee had a murky reputation in the beauty world. Stained teeth, open pores, oily skin, dark circles... Well, no more. Vive la revolution – of the coffee beauty product.
More and more top-end brands are including coffee scrubs, oils and serums in their product lines. Even perfumeries are starting to cotton on with blends of their own.
The Independent tapped up a bunch of experts to find out how you can go from America-No to American beauty, by incorporating coffee into your face, body and hair regimes.
Face the day
Rick “The Superfoodist” Hay, TV presenter and author of The Anti Ageing Food & Fitness Plan, explained how caffeine can help to restore you after a sleepless night – without even drinking it.
“Apply anti-inflammatory chilled coffee grounds to the under-eye area, then sit back and relax for ten minutes. This helps to reduce the under-eye swelling, and to constrict blood vessels.”
“You can mix coffee grounds with some quality oil like olive, coconut or rose hip, and then use it as a cleansing scrub – leave on for a few minutes so that the caffeine can help to close pours, and to cleanse and nourish the skin.”
The grounds, he explains, are all rich in vitamin C, which can help with collagen cross linking when applied to the skin. You can make a face mask with the grounds and oils and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes – but add some honey for hydration and for antibacterial benefits.
Dr Samira Zaidan, the first practising female homeopath in Saudi Arabia and founder of product line Azara Beautique, explains that the high caffeine content in coffee beans stimulates the blood circulation in the skin and scalp, which can be very effective for infections like acne.
And head of skincare at HiMirror, Cin-Yee Ho, says: “Drinking coffee also fights premature signs of ageing, as it contains antioxidants which protect against light, pollution and heat damage.”
She recommends as using coffee grounds themselves as a gentle exfoliator, or applying them under the eyes as part of a serum, as the caffeine reduces blood flow to the area and reduces puffiness.
But if you're a product junkie and you want something shop bought, you can't go wrong with the Exuviance Depuffing Eye Serum (£48), with caffeine, chamomile and cucumber, plus a handy cooling roller to really target puffy tired eyes.
However, all experts caution care with using coffee scrubs on the face, advising you to stick to dedicated facial products with more finely ground beans, which provide a gentler exfoliation.
If you have specific skin concerns, Grounded Body Scrub, a worldwide leading coffee scrub company, specialise in creating products with customers’ skin in mind. They are particularly experienced with dry, eczema-prone skin, which can react poorly to medicated scrubs.
For men, there’s the Ted Baker Grooming Room product line, which includes a Face Wash, Hair and Beard Shampoo and Hair Mud – all containing coffee extracts.
The Face Wash (£16) stood out to our tester as a particularly effective product, especially for oily skin, with biodegradable particles to prevent razor burn, and sesame and pistachio oils to soften pre-shave.
A thick-bodied coffee
The act of exfoliating with a coffee scrub also helps to smooth and tone the skin, and to remove surface impurities for better cell turnover.
According to Bean Body, Australia’s favourite caffeinated beauty range, coffee can actually improve the skin’s imperfections. “Caffeine will stimulate blood flow and help reduce the appearance of cellulite, eczema, stretch marks, age spots, varicose veins and psoriasis.”
Its experts recommend using a coffee scrub 1-2 times a week, applying to damp skin and buffing in circular motions. For a more intensive treatment, they also suggest applying product to dry skin for a powerful caffeine hit.
Kate Protopapas, at Isla Apothecary, top clean beauty and wellness range, also recommends using upward strokes towards the heart, to stimulate lymphatic drainage, which helps move stagnant lymph through the body and push the toxins out.
The Coffee + Cinnamon Body Polish (£23) contains finely ground, antioxidant-rich coffee, with a hint of refreshing cinnamon. The walnut shells provide a gentle, microbead-alternative for a scrub, while the cold pressed jojoba and vitamin E oil leave skin deeply moisturised.
Take care though – many of the most delicious-smelling coffee scrubs will leave your shower looking like the aftermath of an enema.
My personal pick for a scrub that avoids this messy disaster is ethical Australian brand Sukin, and their Energising Body Scrub with Coffee and Coconut (£12.99) – it’s both effective as a scrub and creamy as a moisturiser. Handy in an easy-to-grip tube, its also free of parabens and microbeads.
We also recommend the Azara Beautiuqe soap: Arabic Coffee, Cardamom and Ginger (£22 a bar), which contains traditionally harvested and processed Arabic coffee from Yemen.The soap has high levels of caffeine and antioxidants, and is rich in regenerative ingredients to combat cellulite and protect the skin from UV rays. The ginger and green cardamom are packed with antioxidants, while the soap is fragrant and beautifully presented.
Bar soap is huge right now, with more and more girls throwing away their shower pouffes as horror stories of germs begin to permeate. It can also be used for the body, face or hair, and is perfect for reaping the benefits of coffee scrubbing without getting grounds all over your shower.
If you're worried about cellulite, a body serum with caffeine ingredients could be just the thing. According to Ho: “Coffee also acts as a diuretic, so creams containing coffee can temporarily minimises the visibility of cellulite because they draw fluid away from fat cells, shrinking them.”
Perennial favourites Nuxe have a highly concentrated Body Contouring Serum (£25) for embedded cellulite, containing botanical caffeine, yacon leaf extract and Brazilian mimosa. On first use, it noticeably softened the skin, and over time the appearance is subtly reduced, while the skin is firmed by the micro-algae.
Hair of the dog
The International Journal of Dermatology found that topically applied caffeine can stimulate hair growth, as caffeine targets DHT, the hormone responsible for hair loss.
The chemical can also help improve follicles, causing hair cells to produce more ATP – i.e. grow quicker and thicker.
According to Ho, “The antioxidants also act when used as a hair mask, strengthening and protecting the hair.”
The market is awash (pardon the pun) with coffee-based hair products, from shampoo to treatments. But you can also DIY.
Mix in the coffee with your shampoo (ground coffee with half a cup of water, then the shampoo) and add a spoonful of cinnamon for an incredible hair hack. It really does leave hair noticeably shinier and voluminous.
Be sure to allow caffeine-shampoos to sit on your head for at least two minutes to reap the full benefits, as it takes time for the caffeine to penetrate – resist the urge to rinse!
And on a last note...
Wake up and smell the coffee – perfume, that is. It's not just skincare getting in on the action.
High-end perfumes, such as Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum (30ml for £42.20), are adding caffeinated top notes. This fragrance has a distinctive and fiery black coffee blend centre, with hints of white flowers and a touch of vanilla.
But the outstanding winner has got to be Tom Ford's Cafe Rose Eau de Parfum (50ml for $230). God knows it’s a pricey investment, but the lavender-coffee blend is unique, sensual and an instant classic.
We’ve partnered with Kahlúa to celebrate National Coffee Week and you could win an overnight stay at the Hoxton Hotel, Holborn, plus cocktails and dinner for two. To be in with a chance of winning, tell us which Kahlúa cocktail you'd most like to try by clicking here*.
*Terms Apply: 18+. Enter before 23.59 on 22 April 2018. Please read full Terms before entering.
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