While most of the research behind coffee and caffeine’s benefits are attributed to internal use (ingestion), there are actually a surprising amount of benefits that can be reaped from topical use. In this blog, we focus on the skin benefits of coffee.
There are plenty of studies that have looked at the effectiveness and safety of caffeine applied topically for treating many conditions including UV skin damage, hair loss, photoaging, wrinkles, cellulite, skin cancer, dermatitis, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and more.
Obtaining these benefits usually involves making a mask, scrub, or serum of some sorts from either fresh coffee grounds or pure caffeine power and applying it to your skin directly.
Let’s take a closer look at the science behind topical caffeine…
Clinically Proven Effects of Topical Caffeine
1. Natural Sunscreen
One of the most interesting and less talked about benefits/uses of topical caffeine is its sunscreen effect. According to a study, topical application of caffeine half an hour before exposure to UV-radiation significantly decreased UVB-induced thymine dimer formation and sunburn lesions.
In other words, topical caffeine was found to exert a sunscreen effect, preventing sunburn and UV-damage. In additional studies, topical caffeine strongly inhibited the formation of skin tumors in UVB-pretreated ‘high-risk mice’ and in tumor-bearing mice.
The studies found that topical caffeine reduced the growth of UVB-induced tumors as well. In conclusion, if you read our article on the Dangers of Commercial Sunscreen and would like a non-toxic alternative sunblock, we suggest investigating the use of topical caffeine for inhibiting the formation of sunlight-induced skin cancer and sunburn. 1
2. Photodamage Protection
As briefly touched on, the protective effects of topical caffeine from ultra violet light also exhibits a photoprotective effect. In a study on the use of topical caffeine in the prevention of photoaging, it was found that various parameters of UV damaged were reduced by topical caffeine, including epidermal hyperplasia, solar elastosis, and angiogenesis.
Additionally, topical caffeine to mouse skin after UV irradiation was found to promote the deletion of DNA-damaged keratinocytes and partially diminish photodamage as well as photocarcinogenesis. In fewer words, caffeine applied to the skin can protect your skin from sun damage. 2
3. Fights Skin Cancer
Considering caffeine’s various protective effects from sun damage, it probably comes without surprise that topical caffeine also inhibits skin cancer. In one study, caffeine sodium benzoate was found to be highly active in inhibiting skin carcinogenesis in UVB-pretreated high risk mice. The studies concluded that topically applied caffeine is a novel inhibitor of sunlight-induced skin cancer. 3
4. Inhibits Skin Herpes
One of the more interesting benefits of topical caffeine is its anti-herpe effect. In study, repeated treatment with caffeine significantly decreased HSV antigen-positive neurons in the dorsal root ganglia. These effects suggest that topical caffeine can inhibit HSV-induced skin irritation through direct action on sensory neurons in the skin. Not only does it possess antiviral activity but can also directly alter neural functions involved in the caffeine sensory actions. In other words, topical caffeine has an antiviral effect against herpes and can prevent flare ups and breakouts. 4
The use of caffeine in skincare and cosmetics is rising significantly, largely because of the research regarding its potent antioxidant properties. This helps to reduce skin aging and wrinkling. In study, topical caffeine was found to protect skin cells against UV radiation and slow down the process of photoaging of the skin. Moreover, caffeine in skin care products was found to increase microcirculation in the skin, which can stimulate the growth of new skin cells and promote a rosy complexion. 5
Another impressive and desirable benefit of topically applied caffeine is its anti-cellulite properties. According to research, caffeine applied to the skin can exert an anti-cellulite effect by preventing the excessive accumulation of fat in cells. Also, cellulite is more prominent in people with high estrogen. This is because estrogen can weaken the tone and integrity of the veins and skin tissue, which decreases skin elasticity and attributes to the appearance of cellulite. Caffeine has a known anti-estrogen effect by competing with the estrogen receptor, and this may be another reason for its anti-cellulite effects. 6, 7
Although caffeine and coffee may have had bad reputations as addictive, drug-like substances, the research shows otherwise. Not only does internal consumption of caffeine have health benefits, but there is plenty of clinical evidence supporting numerous health benefits from the topical use of caffeine. There are a number of ways you can implement topical caffeine into an Alitura Naturals approved skincare regime. For example, you can try adding a capsule of pure caffeine powder to your Clay Mask or Gold Serum. You can also make a coffee scrub and apply to the body before showering and moisturize your skin afterward with the Alitura Body Lotion, which includes Organic Green Coffee Oil.
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