Ahhh, caffeine! For most, it’s one of the first things they imbibe in their day and it is one of life’s most simple pleasures to wake up and smell freshly brewed coffee wafting through the home. It perks us up for the day ahead, especially those of us who work in the service industry – having worked in salons for years, I can tell you that that your cosmetologist did not get that peppy smile all on their own at 8am!!! For all of it’s fantabulous energising qualities, caffeine has a darker evil side (like Jekyll and Hyde).
Avoiding caffeine is number 8 on my list of Skin Commandments and it didn’t get there for no reason. It’s nigh on impossible to quit something without understanding why you have to give it up – caffeine is one of these things! Caffeine is well-known as a substance that can damage your skin but I’m going to have to get a bit nerdy to explain why…
Why is caffeine one of the skin sins?
Caffeine can cause blood vessels to narrow. When the blood vessels narrow, it causes the vessels at the surface of the skin to struggle to deliver antioxidants and nutrients to promote the natural production of collagen. It is collagen that keeps your skin plump, smooth, glowy and wrinkle-free so when the production of collagen slows down, you will start to see the signs of ageing on your skin. The skin will slacken and fine lines and wrinkles will appear – I don’t mean all at one time, like in any of that variety of movie where a witch’s potion wears off… it’ll be more gradual.
As well as this, caffeine is a diuretic meaning that it causes the body to get rid of excess water, causing dehydration of the skin. Skin dehydration manifests in symptoms such as irritation, itchiness, sensitivity, dullness and drinkles (AKA dehydrated wrinkles) – so if it’s avoidable, you might as well avoid it!
Caffeine IN skincare
Interestingly, everything that caffeine does from within is positively flipped when it is applied topically. Caffeine is a regular addition to eye creams or eye gels because of its stimulant qualities – it stimulates the blood flow under the skin and thus can improve the look of dark circles and puffiness on the face. As well as this, its dehydrating qualities coax excess fluid from fat cells to improve the appearance of cellulite on the body. So caffeine for your inside is not advisable, but caffeine for your outside can have positive effects – who knew?! But seeing as the negatives greatly outweigh the positives, I refuse to downgrade caffeine from its ranking as a skin sin.
Nuxe Contour Des Yeux Prodigieux Anti-Fatigue Moisturizing Eye Cream (€19.95) uses the stimulating powers of botanical caffeine to bring your under eyes back from the dead and reduce puffiness!
How do I stop skin sinning in regards to caffeine?
Naturally, I recommend the cold turkey approach – ditch the caffeine entirely. I’m aware this is a hard sell to a predominantly Irish audience… asking Irish people to give up tea is like asking a fish to stop swimming. To put a halt to dehydration and improve your circulation, switch to caffeine-free alternatives. Barry’s have decaf tea, decaf coffee is widely available in both cafés and supermarkets and, as you’ll know if you’ve been part of the Nerd Herd for a while, I am a huuuuge fan of herbal teas.
If you really and truly cannot face living your life without the perk-inducing skin divil, cut back to one cup a day.
Barely related caffeine fact: a regular-sized Red Bull has approximately the same amount of caffeine (80 milligrams) as a coffee of the same size (80-200 milligrams of caffeine, dependent on brew and variety)! However, regular Red Bull is a sugar train, next stop Sugartown which also is the root of many skin problems.