Most of us are pretty useless in the morning until we get our coffee — and apparently, the same goes for our skin. You probably know caffeine as the stuff in your hot bean juice that makes your brain go a mile per minute, but when it’s included in skin-care products it can pack a similar punch of energy.
What is caffeine, exactly?
“Caffeine does for your skin what it does for your soul — wakes it up a bit,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Connecticut. “It’s an antioxidant that is a great vasoconstrictor, meaning it tightens up blood vessels.” Cosmetic chemist and BeautyStat founder Ron Robinson concurs: “Caffeine is a powerful antioxidant, so it can protect the skin from free radical damage.” Cosmetic chemist Ginger King even calls the ingredient “a microcirculation enhancer.”
What does caffeine do for the skin?
All that said, caffeine’s primary skin benefits boil down to protection from the elements, anti-inflammation, and increased circulation. An added bonus? “It will also help active ingredients to be more effective,” King explains.
What are the best skin-care products with caffeine?
It makes sense, then, that most caffeine-laced skin-care products are eye creams. “Caffeine can be found in eye creams because of its potential to calm and soothe the eye area, as it helps relieve puffiness,” Robinson says. In fact, he formulated it into BeautyStat’s Universal C Eye Perfector for that very reason. On that subject, if you ask any Allure editor what their favorite caffeine-heavy eye cream is, they’d probably recommend The Inkey List’s Caffeine Eye Cream.
Keep in mind, however, that even the most caffeinated eye cream can’t erase undereye puffiness or crow’s feet permanently. “Results are typically modest, and often people with dark circles need more invasive procedures and additional intervention including botulinum toxin, fillers, and even surgery to address the concerns of wrinkles, puffiness, and dark circles,” says New York City board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchbien, M.D. If your undereye area is a big concern to you, she recommends seeking the help of a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
Caffeine, as Robinson points out, can also be occasionally found in body creams that aim to reduce the appearance of cellulite — like Biossance’s Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream, which Gohara says is one of her favorite caffeinated skin-care products. (We’re also partial to Bliss Fabgirl Firm Skin Tightening Body Cream). Once again, it’s not a fix-all, but it can provide skin with a little boost over time.
If caffeine can wake up our brains and our skin, to what else can we apply its invigorating magic? Our careers? Our love lives? Ooh, our bank accounts? Sadly, that’ll never be possible — but we’ll happily take the slightly less puffy undereyes regardless.
More on skin-care ingredients:
Now, see a dermatologist’s daily routine: