Many of us enjoy at least one coffee containing beverage daily - from the morning eye-opener espresso made at home to a tasty milky latte from a coffee shop. However, coffee contains several compounds, such as caffeine, antioxidants, and polyphenols, and all the cups we consume can affect our skin in a good or bad way. As a result, coffee has become a focus of clinical and scientific interest in the last decade.
Even though it is usually beneficial when applied to the skin, coffee does some harm when consumed as a beverage. Not all studies are conclusive, but some help us to establish the links based on the known effects of coffee compounds such as caffeine on the body.
Here are three changes that may happen to the skin when you stop drinking coffee.
1. May attain a more youthful appearance
Quitting or cutting your coffee intake may stop or reverse aging leading to a more youthful appearance.
Caffeine slows down the rate your body makes collagen, a protein that both tightens and gives your skin its elasticity. Collagen provides structure, support, or strength to your skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues. When the collagen is lost, your skin begins to sag, and wrinkles appear. Typically, your body makes it more slowly as you age, and getting rid of caffeine slows the aging process or reverses it.
2. May reduces acne
Everyone reacts differently to coffee due to varying hormonal makeup. Thus drinking coffee may help or worsen acne in each individual.
On the one hand, coffee increases acne-causing hormones and androgens in the body, which can cause or worsen existing acne. But at the same time, drinking coffee may help regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels, reducing the risk of acne flare-ups.
Insulin is a crucial hormone in developing acne; which is why low-carb and low- glycemic index (GI) diets reduce acne by lowering insulin levels. Therefore, anything that mitigates insulin resistance also reduces insulin levels which could alleviate hormonal acne.
Secondly, the caffeine in coffee can boost stress hormones, primarily cortisol. It is one of the most important stress hormones in humans. According to some studies, changes in acne severity are highly associated with increasing stress, suggesting that any stress from external sources may significantly influence acne. Coffee activates the stress response, causing the skin to produce more oil and trigger acne-causing hormones.Therefore, your body produces fewer stress hormones when you cut down or eliminate caffeine and less break outs. Furthermore, milk and sugar added to the coffee can be acne triggers.
3. May have clearer skin due to better sleep
Caffeine is a stimulant that boosts alertness and directly affects our body's sleep-wake cycle, which lasts for hours. Thus, your midday cup of coffee could cause you a restless night! That also applies to heavy coffee drinkers consuming six or more cups daily.
It matters because sleep has a vital regulatory role in body function, including the skin. Poor sleep quality, characterized by short sleep duration, insomnia, and altered sleep latency, is associated with an increased risk of physical and mental health problems. As a result, sleep deprivation or lack of rest may lead to and/or exacerbate skin diseases, such as acne and psoriasis.
Cutting caffeine reduces sleep disruption and helps your body recognize when to nap. In addition, your skin will benefit from improved sleep and rest, allowing it to rejuvenate.
Does coffee cause dehydration?
Caffeine only has a mild diuretic effect and does not appear to cause dehydration when consumed in moderation (up to about 500 mg daily – about five mugs of instant coffee). Furthermore, despite an increase in urinary output when caffeine intakes are in the region of 600 mg per day, there is a threshold below which there is little or no effect on urine production. Therefore, drinking coffee does not cause dehydration.
Dehydration prevents your body from eliminating toxins through your skin. It also increases susceptibility to skin problems such as acne, blackheads, breakouts, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, discoloration, and even premature wrinkling. In addition, the thick natural oils in your skin are easily stuck in your pores, causing bacteria growth. Thus, hydration is essential for a healthy skin.
Positive benefits of drinking coffee to your skin
There are two sides to a coin, which also applies to coffee. Drinking coffee has been associated with decreased occurrence of Non-melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC), melanoma, and rosacea. These are severe skin health conditions, but some studies show that caffeinated coffee might have chemo-preventive effects against the basal cell carcinoma attributed to the cancer.
Benefits of topical application of coffee on the skin
May reduce cellulite
Cellulite occurs in up to 80–90% of post-pubertal women and is considered a primary cosmetic concern. Caffeine is among a class of beta-agonists (methylxanthines) with documented action in treating cellulite. It is the most beneficial and safest methylxanthine, typically used in concentrations of 1%-2%. One can extract the caffeine from coffee beans of the Coffea arabica (L) plant. It quickly penetrates the skin, facilitating its absorption and action on the cellulite. Caffeine also has a stimulating effect on cutaneous micro-circulation, which may help to reduce fatty cells and the appearance of cellulite.
However, the development of commercial cellulite products on the market is still ongoing, as efficacy for some products may be difficult to verify.
May reduce inflammation and acne flare-ups
Other bio-active components in coffee are carotenoids, phytoestrogens, natural antioxidants, phenolic compounds, and functional compounds. They can reduce inflammation and potentially reduce the risk of acne flare-ups.
Phenolic and flavonoid compounds are potent antioxidants and exhibit various physiological activities such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-allergic, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-hypertensive activities. The recovery of such value-added compounds from processing coffee by-products has increased due to their availability and advanced technology. A good example is the Coffee Silver-skin extract (CSE) which protects against accelerated aging caused by oxidative stress/agents. The CSE is a potential ingredient in skin care products for topical use and as Nutri-cosmetic to prevent accelerated skin aging induced by oxidative stress caused by chemical or physical agents (photoaging).
May improve skin hydration
Consuming Coffee polyphenols (CPPs) improves skin hydration. It significantly lowers the clinical scores for skin dryness, decreased transepidermal water loss, skin surface pH, and increased stratum corneum hydration and the responsiveness of skin blood flow.
How to lessen the impact of coffee on your skin
Drink water to hydrate and rest
Keep drinking water when you give up caffeine, and get plenty of sleep. These can help you overcome some of the worst withdrawal symptoms. Proper hydration will help to flush out toxins from your body and keep your skin clear while enough rest will let your skin rejuvenate.
Regular exercise gives you the serotonin boost your body craves, helping you to skip the chemical crutch. In addition, to helping you sleep better, it will also lift your mood, enabling you to thrive through your withdrawal phase.
Your best bet is a step-by-step approach. For example, you can begin by replacing half of your morning coffee with decaf. Then gradually, replace your caffeinated foods and beverages with caffeine-free options such as water.
Decaf is a good alternative if you're looking to cut back on coffee but get the same taste. There are four most common methods for making decaf coffee: the Swiss water method, which uses only water; the direct and indirect solvent process; and the carbon dioxide gas to remove the stimulant.
However, it is vital to note that decaffeinated coffee does not contain zero caffeine. Instead, at least 93 % of the caffeine must be removed, leaving 3 milligrams to 12 milligrams per cup, compared to 100 milligrams in a regular cup.
On the other hand, health practitioners say you don't need coffee to energize you first thing in the morning as your body does that naturally. Therefore quitting coffee will only leave you energized all day. Otherwise, try herbal tea or warm water with lemon if you enjoy the ritual of a warm drink to kick-start your day.
Caffeine is generally safe for most people in moderation, with up to four cups of brewed coffee daily. However, that much could disrupt your sleep, make you anxious or affect your body, including the skin. And although I don't recommend coffee to people with acne-prone skin, drinking or giving it up may not be that magic bullet.
Bray, E. R., Kirsner, R. S., & Issa, N. T. (2020). Coffee and skin—Considerations beyond the caffeine perspective. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 82(2), e63.
Iriondo-DeHond A, Martorell P, Genovés S, Ramón D, Stamatakis K, Fresno M, Molina A, Del Castillo MD. Coffee Silverskin Extract Protects against Accelerated Aging Caused by Oxidative Agents. Molecules. 2016; 21(6):721. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules21060721
Hexsel, D., & Soirefmann, M. (2011, September). Cosmeceuticals for cellulite. In Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery (Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 167-170). WB Saunders.
Harris, Anette & Ursin, Holger & Murison, Robert & Eriksen, Hege. (2007). Coffee, stress and cortisol in nursing staff. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 32. 322-30. 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.01.003.
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