Caffeine in Skin Care: Is it Effective?

Caffeine has become a prominent ingredient in many skin care products. It can be used as a face mask, under-eye and anti-cellulite serums, and in skin care products. While marketing claims it can “wake up” your skin, here’s what that means.

Caffeine isn’t just for mornings.

This simple and effective ingredient is quickly gaining popularity in the beauty industry, thanks to its popularity via TikTok and celebrity endorsers who claim that caffeine-infused skin care products are an easy, inexpensive way to boost your skin.

Why Caffeine is Added to Skin-Care Products

It may sound too good for the faithful, but those who love caffeine skin care may be right.

Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor. This means it shrinks blood vessels. Jeffrey Hsu is a board-certified dermatologist who also codirects Oak Dermatology in Chicago.

Dr. Hsu states that caffeine can reduce blood flow and make the skin look tighter and brighter when applied to skin care. It is often used in skin care products, such as eye care and body care, to smoothen wrinkles or prevent aging.

Proper formulation is key to skin care products working. Notably, the correct formulation is key to making skin care products work.

Hsu explains that several studies have shown that caffeine molecules can pass through the skin’s top layers, such as the study published in August 2020 in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

It is important to note that even though a product claims to contain caffeine, it does not necessarily mean that it will provide the benefits that you are looking for.

Hsu says that caffeine must be used in high concentrations to achieve the same effects previously mentioned. I recommend patients use medical-grade products for their skin care. They are supported by controlled studies that show the product’s formulations, transparency of ingredients, and effectiveness.

Hsu says that marketing terms such as “clinically proven” or “pro-grade” may not be synonymous with “medical quality when evaluating skin care labels. Hsu explains that medical-grade products can only be dispensed by a medical director in a doctor’s office or med spa.

The Potential Benefits of Caffeine-Based Skin care Products

Caffeine works primarily through circulation, so it’s quick acting, protects against oxidative stress, and is anti-inflammatory for the skin, according to Ife Roney, MD. He is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Eternal Dermatology and Aesthetics, Fulton, Maryland.

Caffeine may also help to protect against photodamages such as wrinkles and fine lines from sun exposure. Dr. Rodney states that studies have shown that caffeine can be used after UVA and UVB radiation exposure. You will experience an immediate lift and oxidative stress protection. However, it may fade over time. Other active ingredients should be included in skin care products that can repair your skin.

Rodney says that other good ingredients for skin include shea butter, tea tree oil, vitamin C, and jojoba oils. She explains that antioxidants slow down oxidative stress and can restore damaged cells.

Hsu says that sun-soaked skin may be a sign of anti-carcinogenic properties.

“In one study with mice, for instance, caffeine applied topically promoted cell death in cells damaged by sunlight,” he said, referring to a paper published December 20,21 in the Journal of Biology and Medicine. “Researchers concluded topical caffeine caused actual cell death in squamous cells carcinoma, and benign skin tumors.” Squamous Cell Carcinoma is typical skin cancer. Large-scale clinical trials are required to confirm whether the anti-cancer effects of topical caffeine would be felt in humans.

Are there any downsides to using caffeine in skin care?

Rodney says that caffeine’s skin benefits are temporary and can only be felt for a few minutes, similar to a cup of coffee. She says caffeine is quick and won’t cure under-eye bags or wrinkles. Rodney advises that you still look into other products for your skin, which can be used in conjunction with this product to address specific issues long-term. These include moisturizers with Ceramides, serums with vitamin C, niacinamide, and cleansers with salicylic acids.

Caffeine can cause skin irritation and reddening due to increased blood flow. You may be sensitive to caffeine or have a caffeine sensitivity. Try this ingredient on a small area of your skin.

Hsu says that a patch test should be done, about the size of a dime behind your ear or at the jawline. It’s worth doing it several times to see how your skin reacts to it before you apply it.

Caffeine Skin-Care Products Dermatologists Love

Inkey Caffeine Eye Cream,, is one of the most loved skin care products. It cost $99.99. The actor paper was published in the March 2022 International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

You’ll find it in body scrubs, serums, and cellulite treatments. It would help if you kept in mind that caffeine’s skin care benefits are more suited for certain products than others. Consider skipping caffeine toner, for example. Rodney says that caffeine toners will not offer any more benefits than the other toners available because the toners’ caffeine levels are low, and the effects are short-lived. She believes that a caffeine-infused cream, serum, or cream would offer more significant benefits.

If you want to try the caffeine-in-skin-care trend, dermatologists recommend the following products.

1. Biossance Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream

Rodney says that this product combines caffeine with plant-based derivatives. These active ingredients help to soothe the skin, speed up cell turnover, or provide additional hydration. It also contains squalene which research in April 2022 trends in Biotechnology suggests will moisturize the skin.

Biossance Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream, $28,

2. InterFuse Treatment Cream EYE

Hsu says that this medical-grade purchase contains Kakadu plum Extract. This extract is rich in antioxidants to combat free radicals, which can damage collagen and cause premature aging signs like wrinkles and fine lines. In a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Phytocosmetics and Natural Ingredients, Kakadu plum extract retained high antioxidant activity even after being added to the cream.

InterFuse Treatment Cream EYE, $110,

3. The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + ECGC Eye Serum

Rodney loves this product because it is made from green tea. Green tea contains more antioxidants than caffeine derived directly from coffee. She says that antioxidants are excellent for protecting the delicate skin under the eyes. Rodney points out that the cream also contains hyaluronic acids, which help keep your skin hydrated and plump. Research supports hyaluronic acids’ ability to rejuvenate the skin and stimulate collagen production, which keeps the skin firm and bouncy.

The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + ECGC Eye Serum, $7.50

4. ZO Skin Health Cellulite Control Cream

Hsu recommends this medical-grade product that contains caffeine. It also contains plankton extract, which helps to moisturize the skin. In Marine Drugs, a review suggests that marine-based substances, such as algae, could have skin-supporting benefits ranging from reducing pigmentation and wrinkles.

ZO Skin Health Cellulite Control Cream, $98,


Caffeine is gaining popularity as a skin care ingredient. Caffeine temporarily constricts blood vessels, reducing puffiness and giving your skin a taut, fresh appearance. It’s a popular Instagram filter.

Although its effects are noticeable, they are only temporary. You can try products that contain caffeine and ingredients that promote long-term skin repairs, such as vitamin C, marine algae, and hyaluronic acids.

Caffeine applied to the skin can still be absorbed into the bloodstream. Caffeine can still be absorbed into your bloodstream if you are sensitive. Talk to your dermatologist about your concerns.

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