Is Coffee Good for Skin? We Asked a Derm

Is coffee good for skin? A dermatologist settles the debate.

Our morning routine starts and ends with coffee. You know those people who aren’t really human until they get their cup of coffee? Yeah, that’s a common occurrence. Because we all love a good cafe in the morning, the question “Is coffee good for skin?” has been running around our heads. We just had to figure out what it’s doing to our skin. We had a quick chat with Dendy Engelman, Dermatologic Surgeon at MDCS all about coffee and caffeine.

Positive Effects Of Coffee

Dr. Engelman says that this is the question everyone asks but doesn’t really want to know the answer to. “No one really wants to give up their coffee.”

But it turns out drinking coffee isn’t necessarily bad for you. She says “the truth is drinking a small cup of coffee in the morning can be good for you, just like having that glass of wine; the key is moderation.” Which is, we can all agree, the hardest part.

Dr. Engelman says that caffeine works as a stimulant and also as a diuretic which is why it wakes you up, and can be useful for flushing out water retention.

Negative effects of coffee

The negatives to coffee start to add up pretty quickly, says Dr. Engelman. “Too much can cause dehydration which will manifest as dehydrated and dry skin.” She doesn’t recommend drinking more than two, maybe three cups per day over prolonged periods (like, your whole life, basically).

And, can we have a moment on mixed coffee drinks? We’re down for something frilly at Starbucks every now and again, but all those pumps of sugar add up. Not only is it empty calories, but sugar consumption can contribute to aging skin by making it harder for collagen to repair itself.

Topical applications

You may just want to put down that frap and instead use caffeine on your skin. Dr. Engelman says that products that include caffeine “Create the appearance of smoother skin as it temporarily tightens skin.” But the effect needs consistent use to have a lasting affect. “When applied religiously the temporary effects they give are prolonged to daily effects” says Dr. Engelman. Just be prepared to keep up the application “Often, if the cream is discontinued, most often the skin returns to its baseline appearance.”

She also suggests applying your caffeine creams with a massage or using a massage roller, which, she says, “Can help aid in penetration and subsequent results.”

Caffeine can also help with skin redness and inflammation. This is super helpful for acne sufferers. Dr. Engelman says there is a “dilation effect it has on broken blood vessels and redness.” She suggests using the Cetaphil Foaming Face Wash, which includes caffeine, because it can reduce redness via vasoconstriction.

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Bio: She’s a New Orleans based beauty writer, nail polish hoarder, and doughnut enthusiast. When she isn’t camping out in her local coffee shop for hours on end, you’ll probably find her taking selfies in front of every colorful wall she’s ever seen. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram @themercuteify.