The Effects of Coffee on the Skin: Is It Worth It or Should You Quit?
Statistically speaking, there’s a high chance you drank (or are drinking) coffee today.
Did you know that 65% of Americans have had a cup of coffee in the past day?1
Are you a coffee lover too?
Do you live for that morning cup (or two) of joe?
If so, this one’s for you (And no, we won’t yell at you for loving coffee – we get it!).
So if you’re an avid coffee drinker, have you ever considered the effects of coffee on the skin? The link between coffee and skin is something we don’t see a lot of information on in the skincare world. So we thought it’d be a fun (+ relevant) topic to address.
And if you’re not a coffee drinker, don’t go anywhere: we’ve got some creative coffee alternatives for you + interesting facts. Plus, it just might spark your new morning drink of choice. ;)
Effects of Coffee on the Skin
Is coffee bad for your skin? Well, yes and no.
In full transparency, we want to paint a realistic picture of the effects of coffee on the skin – good and bad. And like many things in life, much of the answer lies in context and moderation.
Here are some ways coffee affects your skin:
- Causes dehydration.
Dehydration is rarely a good thing. And it’s definitely not a good thing for your skin. Dry skin leads to premature aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and lackluster skin. Coffee and skin don’t mix well in this respect.
- Eliminates excess salt + water through urination (it’s a diuretic.)2
If you’re dehydrated to start with, drinking coffee can make it worse for you (and your skin). But on the flip side, this could be one of the positive effects of coffee on the skin if you have excess fluids or salts causing unwanted puffiness.
- Has protective, anti-inflammatory properties.
Coffee is rich in antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds (phenols) that protect your body from oxidative stress + inflammation.3
There’s no doubt this could be considered one of the best positive effects of coffee on the skin. Less inflammation = a clearer, brighter complexion.
- Boosts energy levels from caffeine.
This is a double-edged sword. While increased energy and focus are positive, too much caffeine can cause issues like:
- Increased blood pressure, which is a major indicator of health2
- An overstimulated nervous system and adrenal fatigue
We know these factors can greatly affect the state of your skin, creating a domino of negative effects on the external appearance of your skin.
But to play devil’s advocate, caffeine applied directly to the skin can help tighten blood vessels that contribute to dark circles.
- Helps protect from photoaging.
One study found a connection between drinking coffee and skin damage from the sun. The presence of polyphenols helped protect against premature aging from sun exposure.4
Other Effects of Coffee
We know coffee can impact our internal well-being – which is oftentimes mirrored in the skin. So while there may not be a direct connection, it’s worth considering when weighing your morning drink options. ;)
Here are a few more effects of coffee we found interesting:
- Can reduce the risk of diabetes. One of the compounds in coffee increases insulin, reduces fasting glucose levels, and improves insulin sensitivity.5
- Could have a protective effect against mental diseases. Coffee may be able to protect against the development of dementia, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.6
- Lowers the risk for depression. Multiple studies show the consumption of coffee can lead to fewer instances of depression.7
- Increases the release of acid in your stomach. This can lead to an upset stomach or heartburn.2
- May prevent your body from absorbing nutrients. Due to the diuretic properties of caffeine, if you’re drinking an excessive amount of coffee, water-soluble vitamins may not be fully absorbed into the body.
Alright, now that you know the potential effects of coffee – good and bad – take the path that feels right for you. Here are a few options.
Option 1: Avoid the Negative Effects of Coffee on the Skin With These Coffee Alternatives
Maybe you’re just not into coffee, or maybe you’re curious to swap out your coffee a few mornings a week for a nutritious alternative. Here are our favorite coffee replacements. Good news: you can still fulfill your morning craving for a hot beverage with a boost of energy.
Many teas contain caffeine, but the effects on your body are more subtle.
You might sidestep a lot of the harsh effects of coffee because tea is generally gentler on your body.
- Matcha – provides a clean, energy-burning release, with some caffeine + beneficial antioxidants. Its antioxidant content is arguably more powerful than the effects of coffee on skin. That’s why we include green tea extract in our clarifying serum. ;)
- Black or green tea + adaptogens – our founder Bethany has been on a kick and swears by it for gentle energy, focus, and functionality.
- Herbal teas – with no caffeine, these teas often contain hydrating + healing benefits for the body. They support your nervous system without being overstimulating, but still provide the comfort + warmth a cup of coffee can deliver in the morning – or afternoon. ;)
- Dandelion Tea – many love dandelion tea for its deep, robust flavor – which is similar to coffee. With just the right amount of bitterness and depth, it’s a perfect coffee replacement. It also reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol, and supports liver health.8 We love Traditional Medicinal’s dandelion tea.
Did you know that you can drink brewed cacao beans? Cacao is the natural, unprocessed form of cocoa. It’s considered a superfood. Brands like Crio Bru offer roasted cacao beans, prepared just like coffee. Cacao is an energy booster and packed with nutrients that are great for your gut – without the jitters.
Brands like MUD/WTR™ are making a splash with delicious coffee alternatives that combine the best superfoods + adaptogens. You get long-lasting energy and focus – without a crash. Plus, added nutrients to start your day on a positive note.
What do you think? Some of these alternatives might surprise you with their delicious taste + clean energy boost. But if you’re not convinced, or you still need to get your coffee fix a few times a week, here are the best ways to drink coffee responsibly – avoiding the worst effects.
Option 2: If You Can’t Part With Coffee, Drink Responsibly (How to Prevent the Negative Effects)
In moderation, coffee doesn’t have to be the enemy. But if you're going to consume it, do yourself a favor and choose the highest quality. Doing so will benefit your body at the same time.
But that’s not all, we’ve got a few more tips to help avoid the negative effects of coffee – but still indulge in your morning cup. :)
Drink Water First!
You should always start your day with water. You’ve just gone 8hrs (or more) without hydration. You wake up dehydrated! The last thing you want to do is dehydrate yourself further and potentially suffer the negative effects of dehydration (not to mention the effects on your body + mind!)
Tip: Try gel water to get an effective + quick hydration boost.
Don’t Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach
It’s one of the quickest ways to upset your system and kickstart some of the negative effects of coffee. It’s acidic and can be hard on your gut and hormones. It can prevent food from properly digesting and hinder your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Not to mention, coffee on an empty stomach can make you jittery and/or anxious.
Try Low-Acid Coffee
Some coffees with high acidity don’t sit well with your stomach (or your gut), causing gut issues that lead to… yep, skin issues. An easy way to minimize these issues is by trying a low-acid coffee. We like the clean brand Life Boost Coffee for a low-acid option.
Make Sure It’s Organic
Traditional coffee farming often utilizes pesticides and other harmful chemicals + environmental toxins. You should always drink organic coffee. Besides, it tastes better too!
Coffee is known as one of the most mold-infested crops in the food industry. So unless your coffee has been tested for mold and other contaminants, there’s really no way to be sure. The brands we trust that test for mold are: Kion Clean Coffee, Purity, and Lifeboost Coffee.
Try a Bulletproof Coffee Recipe
The popularized bulletproof recipes are another way to get added benefits. Instead of sipping your coffee solo, you’ll get a boost of healthy fats that also help curb cravings. Try combining your morning coffee with grass-fed butter or ghee, MCT oil, or collagen.
Keep It to a Reasonable Limit
Though it can be tempting to go back for seconds, limiting the amount of coffee you consume can go a long way. It might help you benefit from the positive effects – and avoid the negative ones.
Look at the Clock
Don’t drink coffee close to bedtime (and be mindful even in the afternoon!) The high caffeine content too late in the day will disrupt sleep, which we know can lead to a variety of sleep-related skin problems.
Take It Easy on Additives
Avoid sweeteners in your coffee or choose options like pure maple syrup or coconut sugar. And if you have a dairy allergy, avoid plant-based milks with seed oils that make it harder for your body to digest.
Weigh the Effects of Coffee on the Skin – and Decide for Yourself
Our job here is to empower you with the best information available – taking into account both the negative and positive effects of coffee.
Is coffee innately bad? No. But it is innately good? We’d argue no. It’s all about balance + context. It's all about upgrading daily habits + prioritizing the highest quality products – especially when it comes to your daily cup of coffee.
Ultimately, it’s your choice. But now that you’ve got the information, you can confidently make the best-educated decision.
Whether you stick with your coffee habit or toss it for good, we still love you. ;)
- National Coffee Association | Coffee Continues Reign as America’s Favorite Beverage: Spring 2023 National Coffee Data Trends Report
- MedlinePlus | Caffeine
- Cleveland Clinic | This Should Perk You Up: The Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee
- National Library of Medicine | Skin Photoprotection and Consumption of Coffee and Polyphenols in Healthy Middle-Aged Japanese Females
- National Library of Medicine | Coffee Components Inhibit Amyloid Formation of Human Islet Amyloid Polypeptide in Vitro: Possible Link Between Coffee Consumption and Diabetes Mellitus
- National Library of Medicine | Caffeine Intake and Dementia: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- National Library of Medicine | Coffee and Caffeine Consumption and Depression: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies
- Medical News Today | Dandelion Tea Benefits
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