If you drink coffee, or even if you don't, you know there are few things in life as wondrous as the day's first cup. Many know it best as the drink that makes their workdays possible, but whether in liquid, bean, ground, or extract form, the magical substance also works overtime to help you out in the beauty department. For example, did you know that caffeine is scientifically proven to blast away cellulite? Or that applying some to your hair can boost growth? Or that it’s a pretty effective way to kiss puffy eyes goodbye?
It's not just us, many experts agree: While knocking back several cups of coffee can amount to too much of a good thing, the beauty and wellness benefits of our beloved elixir nevertheless abound. We might go so far as to even say that coffee, in all forms, should be part of your beauty and skincare regimen!
We typically associate antioxidants with power foods like blueberries and pomegranate, but it turns out that a cup of joe packs a powerful antioxidant punch that’s amazing for overall skin health. It actually has more antioxidants than a cup of green tea. Antioxidants fight premature aging of the skin due to heat, light, pollution, and damaging free radicals. Coffee’s antioxidant power—flavonoids—are released when brewed, so to achieve this particular beauty benefit, drink up.
The protective antioxidant benefits of coffee also extend to your hair—masks or hair products containing java will prevent breakage and enhance shine. Not to mention, leave your mane smelling amazing. Try OGX’s Niacin & Caffeine Shampoo ($6) to give your growth a boost.
When applied topically via eye creams, the caffeine in coffee helps reduce under-eye puffiness by restricting blood flow to the area and reducing swelling. It's a very common ingredient in depuffing creams, but know that the results from those are temporary—just enough to get you through until you're actually awake. We like Sunday Riley's Auto Correct Cream ($65).
Not only are coffee grounds ideal for making a natural and inexpensive homemade body scrub (check out our cellulite-busting version!), but they’re also effective without being harsh. Many natural exfoliants (think sugar or sand) will slough and smooth skin but aren’t exactly gentle. Softer coffee grounds naturally exfoliate dead skin and will leave it silky smooth sans irritation. If you don't want to make your own coffee scrub, Frank Body's Coconut Coffee Scrub ($19) is vegan, nut-free, and well-loved.
Because coffee is a diuretic, creams and serums containing coffee can temporarily minimize the visibility of cellulite by drawing fluid away from fat cells, essentially dehydrating the fat cells. This shrinks their size, resulting in a tightening effect from the outside. (Note that this is impermanent, and too much coffee and not enough water can lead to severe dehydration. Still, it's a great quick fix if you know you're going to be showing off.)
Though it seems counterintuitive given its stimulant nature, coffee can actually also calm inflamed and red skin thanks to the same antioxidants that protect it from premature aging. It's also a vasoconstrictor, which means it reduces redness.
You know how coffee wakes you up in the morning? It does the same thing for your skin. When applied as a face mask, the stimulating properties of coffee improve blood flow and making your skin appear radiant, bright, and, well, alive.
This post was originally published on June 9, 2014 and has since been edited.
Bonus tip: See how supermodel Adriana Lima uses coffee to fight cravings.