There I was, pushing my cart in the cosmetic section of my local big box store when I met a nice woman pushing a new designer facial product: coffee scrub. What harm could it do, I thought, other than addict the pores on my visage to caffeine?
“Instantly energize tired skin,” the product sample’s info card promised. I wondered instantly if coffee acts on the surface of the skin the way it does inside my stomach.
This particular product blends three pure sugars (brown, blonde, and white) with finely-ground Kona coffee – yum! But this goo – which looked a lot like uncooked cake batter – would give me deep, invigorating exfoliation for baby-soft skin after melting into it.
The info card said that Hawaiian Kona coffee is loaded with caffeine and antioxidants. Somehow, rubbing coffee grounds and sugar granules on my face with dry fingers before rinsing off with warm water is supposed to pep up my complexion while removing dead skin. Is that even possible?
I beat hasty tracks to my research lab and discovered quickly that the name-brand product I tested contained no anti-environmental polluting microbeads, harsh exfoliants or Paraben (a widely-used preservative in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products) but would provide effective results immediately:
“Dirt, oil and impurities are removed. Skin feels smooth, energized, and invigorated. Tired skin is resurfaced to look awakened with reduced signs of fatigue.”
The facial improvement regime claims positive results after one week of use three times a week. A 1.7-ounce container of this quality facial product will set you back $13.
But guess what? You can make your own DIY (Do It Yourself) coffee facial scrub!
Skin is the body’s biggest organ, in case you didn’t know. It grows from the inside out. The outermost layer of skin is eventually sloughed naturally. But why wait for nature to take its course? The best exfoliants work gently to detach dead skin cells from the layers of skin below it, revealing the more youthful cells underneath.
Homemade scrubs help rejuvenate skin and increase oxygen-bearing blood circulation. Exfoliants can also temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite (fat tissue) in the face, firming and plumping the skin.
Try this recipe but be sure to avoid coarse materials that could irritate tender skin:
- 1/2 cup fresh ground coffee (dry used grounds will work less effectively)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: In a medium-size bowl, mix the equal parts of coffee and brown sugar. Add the same amount of coconut oil with the vanilla flavoring. Stir until blended.
That’s all there is to it. The concoction is ready to apply to any part of your body – don’t get the scratchy liquid in your eyes, though. Then, rinse with warm water.
I still wasn’t satisfied that coffee could improve skin tone without the jitters. Wholistic dermatologist Julia T. Hunter, M.D. advocates drinking coffee as well as putting it on the surface of your skin to amp up the antioxidants. After a week of regular applications, expect brighter skin, fewer clogged pores, and softer wrinkle lines.
The acid present in coffee adds some chemical exfoliation on top of the mechanical exfoliation provided by the coffee granules. Scrubbing away the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that land on your skin cleanses and strengthens the body’s inborn protective barrier.
Dr. Hunter offered a slightly different way to make your own facial exfoliating scrub:
In a bowl, soak coffee grounds in warm, filtered water (coffee grounds will sink to the bottom of the bowl), and add Epsom salts. Rinse your face with the water from the bowl, then scoop up the grounds to gently scrub skin. Finish by rinsing with more of the water from the bowl.
More encouraging news came from research carried out in 2011. Caffeine from coffee applied topically proved effective in protecting skin prone to burn from some certain skin cancers, operating at the molecular level by inhibiting the production of a protein enzyme in skin.
Allan Conney, a chemical biologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, suspected that a gene called ATR, suppressed in the presence of caffeine molecules, plays a major part in the specific molecular mechanisms behind the caffeine’s ability to ward off cancers. He found that suppression of ATR stimulates the death of cells with damaged DNA.
Caffeinated coffee added to skin products can also reduce bags under the eyes or lighten those dark circles, drying out and constricting blood vessels. A lymphatic channel that drains poorly is located under the eyes. Caffeine helps remove water from the problem area.
Dark circles are caused by aging, as under-eye skin thins, making it easier to see the blood vessels. Coffee can temporarily restrict blood flow 30 minutes to an hour after application.
Thanks to a big box store’s promotional cosmetic sample, we’ve shared a whole new world of skincare. Pardon me while I go grind some grounds.