Full of beans: Why coffee is the latest beauty wonder ingredient

Your daily caffeine hit could be your new turbo-charged beauty booster
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Full of beans: Why coffee is the latest beauty wonder ingredient

Be it a hardcore double espresso, plain old Americano, or half-shot, extra-hot, oat-milk latte – as a nation, we’re addicted to caffeine. Coffee consumption is at all-time high in the UAE, with statistics showing Dhs2.5 billion being spent on the roasted bean every year.

But you might not have realised that adding a shot of caffeine to your beauty regime can perk you up just as much as your cup of Costa. Cult Beauty has seen a 1,854% growth in searches for caffeine since September 2018. “Customers are looking for targeted information and they’re looking for it fast,” explains Senior Buyer Louisa Harris.

“We’re seeing more transparent messaging outlining what’s inside products, making it easier for customers to do their pre-purchase research. With straightforward information, beauty junkies can elevate their routines, customising them with single ingredient formulas. Caffeine in particular is being used far more as a hero ingredient for its powerful antioxidant benefits – and is far less intimidating than, say, retinol.”

You might not think of caffeine as the most beauty-friendly ingredient. After all, there has been evidence that coffee can cause dehydration and negatively affect collagen production. “But, when it comes to cosmetics, caffeine is an absolute multitalent,” assures Susanne Kaufmann, founder of her eponymous skincare brand. “It slows down the skin’s ageing process, softens eye bags and ensures strong hair growth.” Tempted to give your beauty routine a jolt of caffeine? From head to toe, this is how…

Hot head

If you’re after Rapunzel-like lengths, trichologist Dr Eva Proudman explains, “Caffeine increases blood flow and stimulation of the scalp, which in turn increases cell division, promoting healthy hair growth.” It also inhibits the action of DHT – a hormone derived from testosterone that causes androgenetic hair loss, whereby the follicle shrinks leading to weaker, thinner strands. “Caffeine helps lessen these effects and will prolong the growth phase of the hair,” states Kaufmann. Try Dr Organic Coffee Stimulating Shampoo and Conditioner, Dhs56 each, for a supercharged shot of caffeine and chilli powder, which also stimulates blood flow straight to the scalp.

Or, leave Susanne Kaufmann Hair Elixir, Dhs462, on overnight to soothe irritation and encourage hair growth with its powerful blend of hair-boosting biotin, vitamins and caffeine.

Skin win

Caffeine has long been used to tackle tired eyes. It’s vasoconstrictive, which means it can narrow blood vessels, and a diuretic, relieving water retention, making it the perfect under-eye treatment to diminish dark circles and reduce puffiness. “The effects are only temporary,” explains Dr Sophie Shotter, Founder of Illuminate Skin Clinic, “and should be reserved for daytime use – too much caffeine can dehydrate the delicate skin around the eyes.” Shotter recommends layering it with a hyaluronic acid (HA) to prevent dryness, or try The Inkey List Caffeine Serum, Dhs75 at Noon, formulated for eyes and packed with uplifting caffeine alongside hydrating HA. 

“As a potent antioxidant, caffeine can mop up free radicals in the skin caused by UV exposure and pollution,” says Dr Emma Wedgeworth, consultant dermatologist, “and research suggests that, when added to sunscreen, caffeine enhances its protective effects.” Tom Ford Research Serum Concentrate, Dhs1,699, combines three potent ingredients containing caffeine proven to soothe, protect against free radicals and help retain moisture, in a velvet texture. For a cheaper alternative, try Origins Ginzing Energy Boosting Gel Moisturizer, Dhs95 at Selfridges. 

Caffeine’s vasoconstrictive and anti- inflammatory abilities also make it a no-brainer for relieving redness – “Caffeine is well tolerated by the skin, which is important for issues like rosacea, and can be used as an adjunctive treatment to reduce symptoms of flushing,” says Wedgeworth. Clinique’s Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream, Dhs171, targets irritated skin with its blend of caffeine and shea butter.

Body boost

Caffeine’s diuretic effect works to reduce the fluid in cellulite tissue, temporarily improving its appearance. “Caffeine can free up fluid, which means the fluid is available for lymphatic drainage to remove,” explains Shotter, which is one reason why cellulite creams will often encourage you to really massage the product in. 

Try Frank Body’s Original Coffee Scrub, Dhs70 at ASOS, a cult classic that leaves skin silky-soft thanks to almond oil, coffee grinds and sea salt.

Photos: Supplied