I Gave Up Coffee—Here's What Happened to My Skin
If you’ve ever seen a dermatologist for acne, rosacea, or any kind of inflammation, really, I bet you’ve heard this advice before: Stop drinking coffee. I’ve encountered those words many times, but never acted on them. Until recently, that is, when my curiosity (and quest for better skin) finally overtook my caffeine addiction.
You always hear people swear that giving up [insert vice here] changed everything for their skin. Most often, it’s dairy, sugar, wheat, or coffee. With countless dermatologists telling me that cutting coffee is what would finally take care of my pesky breakouts, I retired my Starbucks card in the name of better skin. Why is coffee the culprit? Long, scientific story short: It’s because coffee is highly acidic. High doses of acidic caffeine mess with your hormones, namely your stress hormones, which control your skin’s oil production. On top of that, it can act as a diuretic, dehydrating your skin if you drink too much. I fall shy of the four-cups-a-day group, so I think I’m safe on the dehydration front, but the rest I can’t dispute.
I went coffee-free for three weeks and lived to tell the tale with some surprising results. Keep reading to find out what happened!
Most dermatologists I've spoken with recommend going a month without java to see results. But I’ve also had one tell me I’d see a difference in a week, so I met the challenge somewhere in the middle. First of all, let’s get the obvious question out of the way—did I miss my morning cup of joe for those three weeks? Absolutely. But I was determined to stick it out in the name of clear skin.
My breakouts are primarily hormonal, so I timed my experiment right around the time of the month when my skin flares up the worst. I wasn’t expecting a miracle, but after week one, there was no noticeable difference to speak of. Week two is when my monthly breakouts kicked in. Again, no marked difference—my flare-ups were all about average and lasted just as long as usual. (Le sigh.) But, feeling optimistic, I continued to lay off the coffee.
My breakouts finally cleared up in week three, and I have to admit, my skin looked smoother and more healed than normal. The little breakouts that tend to linger all but disappeared, and the pores that always give me trouble looked less congested than usual. I’m not going to say my skin looked J.Lo glowy, but I wasn’t hating the experiment as much I was early on.
The other change I observed was in my skin's moisture level. I almost always have a few dry patches around my nose and chin, but by week three my skin was far less parched, leading me to believe that perhaps I wasn’t exempt from the dehydrating effects of coffee.
Let's get real here: My skin didn’t magically transform into airbrushed flawlessness over the three weeks, but if I could do it again, I wouldn’t have caved on day 23 and had that iced latte. I think if I were to truly give up coffee long-term, I’d be pretty pleased with the results.
By all outward appearances, I was on the road to success, but what’s also notable is how I felt. I thought I would be dragging without my daily caffeine fix, but it was the opposite. (Okay, excluding day one and day two.) In fact, that iced latte on day 23 made me feel a little sick. So I’m back on the no-coffee bandwagon (for now). The new challenge is to make it to four weeks.
Shop some coffee-infused products below to make caffeine-free mornings more bearable!
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Will you join me on the no-coffee challenge? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
This story was originally published on an earlier date and has since been updated.