How Your Daily Cup (or Two, or Three) of Coffee May Be Impacting Your Skin

Don’t get us wrong – we love our cup of joe in the AM. But from interviews with a naturopathic dermatologist to our research into Acne 101, we’ve found that diet plays a REALLY big role in your skin’s health and appearance. This has made us question our daily cup (or two) of coffee.

In our Matcha for Dark Circles blog post, we talked about how caffeine can be a great anti-inflammatory topical treatment. But how does daily consumption of caffeine through coffee affect our skin – from the inside out?

We’ll give ya the bad news first.

The Bad News

Too much caffeine dehydrates your skin

Caffeine is considered a diuretic, meaning that it causes the body to produce more urine, resulting in greater water loss. Dehydrated skin can give you a duller appearance, dampening your glow and complexion! Furthermore, dehydration can lead to inflammation, dry patches, loss of collagen, and an overproduction of sebum. Sebum is the natural waxy, oily-like substance in your pores. An overproduction of sebum (aka, too much oiliness) can lead to clogged pores, which can turn to acne and other blemishes. If you’re a coffee drinker that likes to have more than one or two cups a day, make sure you’re overcompensating with drinking a lot of water! We like to add an additional two cups of water to our day for every one cup of coffee as a general rule!

 

Drinking a lot of coffee may make your skin thinner

Caffeine has been found to thin out the skin’s dermis. Your skin already thins out as you age (decreasing by about 7% thickness every ten years), and the inclusion of too much caffeine in the diet may make the skin even thinner. This is the result of dehydration and water loss, as mentioned above, which can result in quicker than normal collagen loss.

 

Caffeine can stress out your liver

In case you didn’t know, your liver is SUPER important! The liver removes toxins from the body, which is why putting too many toxins in – like alcohol, or caffeine – can make it difficult for the liver to do its job. By consuming too much coffee, the liver isn’t able to remove all of the toxins from your body, which is no good. These toxins, when stuck in your body, can not only impact your body but it can also end up in your pores. When these low-level toxins clog your pores, your skin is more likely to breakout.

 

More stress = more sebum production, and potentially, more acne

On top of just stressing out your liver, over indulging on caffeine can also increase the amount of general stress hormones in your body. These hormones, known as cortisol, can spike your body’s insulin levels. This can lead to breakouts and throw off your skin’s balance.

 

All that extra stuff in your cup of coffee is worse than the actual caffeine

The creamer and sugar you may put into your coffee is more likely to cause skin issues than the coffee itself. The hormones in dairy may be more likely to create an excess of stress hormones, which can lead to toxicity and blemishes. Additionally, the sugar – in the creamer or added separately – can kick your insulin and sebum production into overdrive. So, keeping your coffee black, or with just a splash of organic plant-based creamer, can help alleviate some of the negative consequences usually associated with drinking coffee.

 

Is there any good news to drinking coffee for our skin? 

We get it – for the sole reason of feeling awake, that may be enough for you to keep coffee in your life! But there are actually some studies that show that the antioxidants present in caffeine can provide skin benefits. Coffee’s antioxidants can be helpful in fighting oxidative damage of the skin and body. However, it must be noted that these benefits are only significant after drinking irrationally LARGE amounts of coffee (which may still be applicable to some of us…). So take this good news with a grain of salt.

Coffee alternatives?

If you’re like us, you still need a hot beverage to get things going in the AM. Below, we list our favorite hot drinks that have helped us reduce our coffee intake.

  • Cacao Elixir from Methodology
  • Crio Bru Cacao Beans Coffee Substitute
  • Apple Cider Vinegar + Hot Water + Lemon
  • Bone Broth (we love Bonafide Provisions)
  • Turmeric, Beet Root, or Matcha Lattes (do these ingredients sound familiar?) using a non-dairy milk
  • Adaptogenic Lattes
  • Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee

 

Despite the overwhelming “bad news”, quitting coffee isn’t for everyone and there is no reason to cut it out completely. There are other non-skin related benefits that you get from coffee (like feeling awake, we get it!). We do recommend, however, trying to limit the amount of caffeine to two cups per day to prevent skin dehydration…especially if you’re concerned about thinner skin or acne! Additionally, it never hurts to drink two additional cups of water for one cup of coffee. In the meantime, you can continue to apply caffeine topically as much as you want!