Here I’m going to be discussing the effects of coffee on your skin and I’m going to be dispelling some myths that I frequently hear about the effects of drinking coffee on things like acne and dry skin.
I love coffee, I’m a coffee enthusiast.
My absolute favorite coffee, the one I drink every morning is Koa Coffee (Best Kona Coffee (Organic, 100% Pure).
I think it’s safe to assume that most people appreciate the fact that coffee has caffeine in it. That’s what gives it that energizing kick and it’s what transforms me into a human being every day.
But a lot of times people will comment that caffeine is a diuretic. Surely it’s going to dehydrate you and that’s going to show up as dry skin and going to make you more likely to have issues related to dry skin, like itch.
It’s actually not true!
Caffeine is at most a very mild diuretic. Studies show that there’s no difference in the amount of urine people put out who drink coffee versus those who just drink water. They’re basically the same. You’re going to pee just as much if you’re a coffee drinker as you would if you just drink plain water.
Simply going to the bathroom a lot doesn’t dry out your skin so long as you continue to take in water.
It also doesn’t make a lot of sense. Brewing coffee requires water and in order to ingest that, you’re consuming water. Most people don’t just eat ground coffee. You’re taking in water with it anyways to offset that mild if any diuretic effect.
So that’s not true. Coffee does not lead to dry skin.
The other thing in coffee that you may not be aware of is antioxidants.
Antioxidants are really helpful for your overall well-being, but they can make a huge difference in the health of your skin.
What do antioxidants do?
They scavenge free radicals that are generated from environmental exposures, like ultraviolet radiation, pollution, tobacco smoke. We know that people who consume a diet rich in antioxidants from things like fruits and vegetables, their skin is actually better equipped to handle the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, in comparison to those who don’t.
Getting antioxidants in your diet actually helps your skin a lot.
Free radicals cause many of the visible signs of photo aging, namely wrinkles, fine lines, loss of elasticity.
Skin conditions like acne and eczema are inflammatory skin conditions and getting antioxidants in your diet can help offset the inflammation that drives these disease processes.
If anything, drinking coffee might actually end up helping these things out in the long run because of the antioxidants and because it’s packed with anti-inflammatory compounds.
Is it safe to drink coffee?
The devil’s in the details as with anything. It’s not the poison, it’s the dose. How much are you consuming.
It’s fine to consume one to three cups a day, but anything greater than four is probably overkill and not great for your health. The reason for this is that the caffeine, when consumed in excess, can cause jitters and increase your anxiety and it can also upregulate stress responses.
Stress responses lead to increase in stress hormones, namely cortisol that subsequently increases insulin levels and we know that insulin drives inflammation in the skin and increases oil production. It also causes an abnormal proliferation of the skin cells that can plug up the pores and these things culminate in flares of acne.
So it is possible that if you are consuming too much coffee and you’re getting too much caffeine, you are amplifying your stress responses and could be contributing to the acne flares.
Also we know that people who consume coffee before a stressful event have an even greater elevation in the stress hormone cortisol in comparison to just going through the stressful event itself.
It’s probably a pragmatic approach to not consume coffee right before a really stressful event. It can make you jittery and can increase those stress hormones. So it’s not a good idea to have coffee right before you have to give a presentation that you might be nervous about.
Too much caffeine, whether it be from coffee or some sort of energy drink, it can make you feel very anxious, it can cause jitters and it can increase your heart rate, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. Some people just are inherently sensitive.
If that’s you, then you can still drink coffee, just choose a decaf coffee or consume less of it. Just limit it to one cup a day.
A lot of the conversation and the myths and misconceptions about coffee are focused around caffeine.
But caffeine, especially when consumed in moderation, is really not that dangerous. In fact it may be helpful in the long run.
We have evidence to show that coffee drinkers have improved overall mortality and also we have evidence to show that people who drink coffee might have a lower risk of certain skin cancers. Further demonstrating the benefit of coffee to your skin.
The narrative around coffee and acne sometimes focuses too much on caffeine. However how you take your coffee can make a difference.
For example, skim milk and dairy is associated with acne. Whey and casein are milk proteins that are associated with increased inflammation in the skin and specifically are associated with stubborn acne.
As a matter of fact, people who consume whey protein supplements often can experience acne related to that. That goes away or improves when they stop consuming whey protein supplements.
Beyond the dairy and the dairy proteins, the other thing in your coffee that could be driving your acne is added sugar.
A lot of people add a lot of sugar to their coffees and sugar increases insulin and that can drive a lot of inflammation into the skin, increase oiliness and really can be associated with stubborn acne.
If you are battling acne and you think it might be due to your coffee, take a look at your coffee. How are you consuming it? Are you drinking a ton of it and you’re stressed out and jittery? Are you using a lot of creamer or dairy? Are you adding a ton of sugar.
A lot of coffee shops have these specialty drinks that have so much sugar in them. People don’t realize it and that is the culprit when it comes to flares of acne. It’s not the coffee, it’s just an innocent bystander in there!
So coffee ends up being guilty by association.
Hopefully I have put your mind at ease that drinking coffee, at least in moderation, is very safe and it’s not going to cause acne. The devil’s in the details. How much you consume and what you’re adding to it.
If anything, we have evidence that drinking coffee may help your skin long term. There are some studies that show that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of certain skin cancers.
Suffice it to say that in moderation coffee is just fine and actually you might consider it a health food.
What about applying coffee to your skin?
Whenever there’s something that’s good for you, skincare companies are going to try and grind it up and put it in a cream and charge you a bunch of money for it.
Is there any benefit to putting coffee on your skin?
The caffeine and coffee when applied topically actually can help with certain skin issues.
It can transiently reduce redness. It also can help in reducing some irritation. Caffeine is an antioxidant so maybe it can help in fighting some of those free radicals that your skin sees when you go outdoors, from things like ultraviolet radiation and pollution, tobacco smoke.
There is good reason to consider topical caffeine, at least for some temporary improvement in redness, irritation and improvement in the appearance of the look of cellulite.
Take away points from this article, when consumed in moderation, coffee is more than fine and it’s safe and it might actually translate into better overall skin health, depending on how you take it, how much you consume, do you add sugar.
When applied topically, it can yield at least some temporary benefits in the look of redness and cellulite.
For those of you out there who are coffee enthusiasts, definitely check out Koa Coffee. You will not regret that choice.
Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.