Be it a hardcore double espresso, plain old Americano, or half-shot, extra-hot, oat-milk latte – as a nation, we’re addicted to caffeine. Coffee consumption in the UK reached a staggering95 million cups a day last year alone. But you might not have realised that adding a shot of caffeine to your beauty regime can perk you up just as much as your cup of Joe. Cult Beauty has seen a 1,854% growth in searches for caffeine since September 2018.
‘Customers are looking for targeted information and they’re looking for it fast,' explains senior buyer, Louisa Harris. 'We’re seeing more transparent messaging outlining what’s inside products, making it easier for customers to do their pre-purchase research. With straightforward information, beauty junkies can elevate their routines, customising it with ‘single’ ingredient formulas. Caffeine in particular, while not new, is being used far more as a hero ingredient for its powerful antioxidant benefits – and is far less intimidating than, say, retinol.’
You might not think of caffeine as the most beauty-friendly ingredient. After all, there has been evidence that coffee can cause dehydration and negatively affect collagen production. 'But, when it comes to cosmetics, caffeine is an absolute multi-talent,' assures Susanne Kaufmann, founder of her eponymous skincare brand. 'It slows down the skin’s ageing process, softens eye bags and ensures strong hair growth.’ Tempted to give your beauty routine a jolt of caffeine? From head to toe, this is how...
Caffeine for your hair
If you’re after luscious Rapunzel-like lengths, turn your head to caffeine, pronto. Trichologist, Dr Eva Proudman, explains ‘caffeine increases blood flow and stimulation to the scalp which in turn increases cell division, promoting healthy hair growth.’ It also inhibits the action of ‘DHT’ – a hormone derived from testosterone that causes androgenetic hair loss whereby the follicle shrinks leading to weaker, thinner strands. ‘Caffeine helps lessen these effects and will prolong the growth phase of the hair,’ states Kaufmann.
Try Dr Organic’s Coffee Stimulating Shampoo and Conditioner, £7.99 each, for a supercharged shot of caffeine and chilli powder, which also stimulates blood flow straight to the scalp. Or, leave Susanne Kaufmann’s Hair Elixir, £80, on overnight to soothe irritation and encourage hair growth with its powerful blend of hair-boosting biotin, vitamins and caffeine
Caffeine in haircare
Caffeine for your under eyes and skin
Caffeine has long been used to tackle tired eyes. It’s vasoconstrictive, which means it can narrow blood vessels, and a diuretic, relieving water retention, making it the perfect under-eye treatment to diminish dark circles and reduce puffiness. ‘The effects, however, are only temporary,’ explains Shotter, ‘and should be reserved for daytime use – too much caffeine can dehydrate the delicate skin around the eyes.’ Shotter recommends layering it with a Hyaluronic Acid (HA) to prevent dryness or try The Inkey List Caffeine Serum, £8.99, formulated for the eyes and packed with uplifting caffeine alongside hydrating HA at a ‘give-it-a-go’ price-point.
‘As a potent antioxidant, caffeine can mop up free radicals in the skin caused by UV exposure and pollution,’ states Dr Emma Wedgeworth, ‘and research suggests that when added to sunscreen, caffeine enhances its protective effects.’ Although expensive, Tom Ford’s Research Serum Concentrate, £255, combines three potent ingredients containing caffeine proven to soothe skin, protect against free radicals and help retain moisture in a luxurious, velvet texture.
The combination of caffeine’s vasoconstrictive and anti-inflammatory abilities also makes it a no-brainer for relieving redness in those with rosacea – ‘caffeine is well tolerated by the skin, which is important for sensitive issues like rosacea, and can be used as an adjunctive treatment to reduce symptoms of flushing,’ advises Wedgeworth. Clinique’s Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream, £42, targets irritated skin with its calming blend of caffeine and nourishing shea butter.
Caffeine in skincare
Caffeine to boost your body
Caffeine's diuretic effect works to reduce the fluid in cellulite tissue, temporarily improving its appearance. 'Caffeine can free up fluid, which means the fluid is available for the lymphatics to remove,’ explains Shotter, which is one reason why cellulite creams will often encourage you to really massage the product in. Try Frank Body’s Original Coffee Scrub, £12.95, a cult classic that leaves skin silky-soft. Looking for something more intense? London-based salon Cloud Twelve offers a Sculpting Treatment, £120, that combines dry brushing with a deep massage using green coffee to boost circulation, reduce puffiness and facilitate lymphatic drainage.