Caffeine and Skin Care Products

caffeine-in-cosmetics

Have you noticed the surge of new skin care products that now contain caffeine?

Not only is caffeine in a  growing number of food and beverages, it is also in a growing number of cosmetics; including make-up, wrinkle cream, dark spot correctors, body wash, and shampoos.

Here are just a few caffeinated skin care products that we have tracked down so far. 

Cosmetics and Soaps Containing Caffeine

Product Caffeine Source/Content
Origins GinZing Coffee beans/ undisclosed
Juara Coffee Scrub Coffee beans/ undisclosed
Bliss FatGirl Soap Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Kiehl’s Eye Cream Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
LORAC Tantalizer Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Vichy Destock Stomach Caffeine Anhydrous, Coffee, Yerba Mate/ 5%
Almay Wake Up Blush Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Organix Awakening Shampoo & Conditioner Coffee beans/ undisclosed
Psssst Volumizing Boost Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
La Roche-Posay Rosaliac UV Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Smashbox Under Eye Primer Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Dermalogica Sebum Clearing Masque Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Garnier Anti-Puff Eye Roller Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
BareMinerals READY Eyeshadow 4.0 Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Bath Buzz Body Cream Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Wash With Joe Coffee/ Key Ingredient
Bath Buzz Soap Caffeine Anhydrous/ 200mg per shower
Shower Shock Caffeine Anhydrous/ 200mg per shower
Bath Buzz Lotion Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
St. Ives Firm and Glow Caffeine Anhydrous/ undisclosed
Caffeinated Shaving Cream Caffeine Anhydrous/ 50mg per shave

Thanks to Babble.com for help with the above list.

Does Caffeine Absorb Through the Skin?

Yes, caffeine does absorb through the skin. In fact, there was a product a few years ago called SpotOn that was essentially a caffeine patch similar to a nicotine patch.

Therefore, it is possible to get a dose of caffeine through the skin, which could add to a person’s total daily caffeine consumption.

The Caffeine Content Mystery

The cosmetic industry is surprisingly unregulated. Only two of the above products include how much caffeine actually is in their product and even then it is a bit ambiguous. We would guess that, in most cases, there is just a small amount of caffeine in most of the other cosmetics listed, but in some of the products coffee beans are one of the primary ingredients.

Shower Shock lists 200mg per shower, which is a significant dose, but the absorption amount would depend on how long the soap is left on the skin and other showering habits. 

Consumers should be aware that these products do add to their total daily caffeine consumption and those sensitive to caffeine should be aware.

Does Caffeine in Skin Products Really Have a Purpose?

Cosmetic companies add caffeine to products based on a couple of studies that point to some potential health benefits of caffeine. However, this industry is notorious for making grand promises, but full of disclaimers such as “reduces the appearance” and “results not typical” etc.

  • The University of Washington in Seattle recently conducted a study in which they exposed healthy skin cells and UV damaged skin cells to caffeine. The caffeine caused the damaged cells to die while not hurting the healthy cells. This study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. This study didn’t allude to the fact that topically applied caffeine would work any better than ingested caffeine though.
  • The second reason for adding caffeine is actually from a number of studies over the years that point to caffeine’s anti-inflammatory properties. So, the theory is that if caffeine is placed under the eye, then it can help reduce puffiness and dark circle as they are caused by inflammation and poor circulation.

What About Caffeine as a Sunscreen?

Caffeine has a sunscreen effect.

Hard to believe – but apparently caffeine will absorb UVB rays when applied to the skin.

Our studies suggest that caffeine-SB and caffeine may be good agents for inhibiting the formation of sunlight-induced skin cancer (abstract).

Caffeine SB stands for Caffeine Sodium Benzoate. Hmmm… heard that somewhere before? Sodium Benzoate is a common ingredient in many carbonated drinks.

Do you think caffeinated cosmetics work? Do you know of any others that should be added to our list?

Written by Ted Kallmyer, last updated on September 11, 2014