The Coffee Conflict: Does Coffee Improve or Sabotage Your Complexion?

​Coffee contains antioxidants that may be beneficial for the skin

​Coffee beans seeds in white bowls with cup of cream overlay on wooden table
Credits: "Maria-Fernanda Gonzalez at Unsplash.com"
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Daily coffee consumption is a regular part of many people’s lives around the world. Coffee is packed with caffeine, and is actually the most commonly consumed psychoactive chemical in the world.[1] Not only is drinking coffee part of many people’s morning routines, but it is often a centerpiece of the community, as people converse at coffee shops or enjoy a cappuccino after a family dinner. Coffee contains high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients. Studies also show that coffee intake lowers the risk for Alzheimer’s disease in mice[2] and may protect against alcoholic liver disease.[3] Does coffee also reduce the risk for skin conditions? This is a hot topic of debate, and there is scientific evidence both supporting and disproving the effects of daily coffee consumption on skin health.

 

How Does Coffee Improve Your Skin Complexion?

Coffee contains antioxidants that help ward off damaging free radicals in the body. Following a typical Western diet, people consume more antioxidants through daily coffee consumption than all fruit and vegetable consumption combined![4] Examples of antioxidants in coffee are hydrocinnamic acids, tannic acid, and polyphenols.[5,6] There is evidence that reactive oxygen species play a role in the pathogenesis of some skin diseases, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.[7,8] For instance, tannic acid (a type of flavonoid) has been shown to improve clinical scores of atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema) in mice.[9,10] Flavonoids have also been shown to protect skin from sun damage and can even improve skin texture.[11]

Coffee consumption may also protect against nonmelanoma skin cancer. In a clinical study of over 90,000 Caucasian women, daily coffee consumption was associated with a reduced occurrence of nonmelanoma skin cancer.[12] Of those women who drank six or more cups of coffee per day, there was more than a 30% decrease in prevalence of nonmelanoma skin cancer. Of those women who drank decaffeinated coffee, there was not an association between coffee consumption and reduced risk for skin cancer.

In a separate 10.5 year study, daily coffee consumption of four cups or more was significantly associated with a 20% decreased prevalence of malignant melanoma. The researchers believe that bioactive chemicals in coffee, including caffeine and chlorogenic acid, may suppress cancer cells caused by ultraviolet type B radiation.[13] In addition, coffee roasting generates vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid) and nicotinamide which have been shown to suppress UVB induced skin damage and may be another way that coffee protects against skin damage from ultraviolet light.[14] 

 

How Does Coffee Hurt Your Complexion?

For some people with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, cutting out coffee may improve symptoms of flushing and redness.[15] However, recently published literature blames the heat of coffee, rather than the caffeine, for triggering flushing episodes in rosacea.[16] Cold coffee drinks may be a better option for those with this condition.        

Caffeine in coffee may have a mild diuretic effect and can theoretically lead to dehydration and dry skin. However, it appears that those that drink caffeinated beverages do not have any difference in how well they are hydrated compared to those that prefer beverages without caffeine.[17] 

 

The Bottom Line About Coffee

As growing research explores the nutrients contained in coffee, more evidence has revealed how antioxidants in coffee provide beneficial skin effects and overall health benefits. In fact, daily coffee consumption may reduce the risk for skin cancer although more studies are needed to better understand how coffee changes skin cancer risks. The idea that coffee worsens symptoms of rosacea may relate to the heat of the coffee rather than the coffee’s ingredients. Coffee is a mild diuretic, although probably not to a high enough degree to cause significant dehydration. It is a good idea to drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated and avoid prune-like, dry skin.

 

* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.

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References

  1. James JE. Understanding caffeine: A biobehavioral analysis. Behavioral medicine & health psychology. Vol 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications; 1997:227.
  2. Arendash GW, Cao C. Caffeine and coffee as therapeutics against Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis.2010;20 Suppl 1:S117-126; PMID: 20182037.
  3. Klatsky AL, Morton C, Udaltsova N, et al. Coffee, cirrhosis, and transaminase enzymes. Arch Intern Med.2006;166(11):1190-1195; PMID: 16772246.
  4. Svilaas A, Sakhi AK, Andersen LF, et al. Intakes of antioxidants in coffee, wine, and vegetables are correlated with plasma carotenoids in humans. J Nutr.2004;134(3):562-567; PMID: 14988447.
  5. Bonita JS, Mandarano M, Shuta D, et al. Coffee and cardiovascular disease: in vitro, cellular, animal, and human studies. Pharmacol Res.2007;55(3):187-198; PMID: 17368041.
  6. Teixeira J, Gaspar A, Garrido EM, et al. Hydroxycinnamic acid antioxidants: an electrochemical overview. Biomed Res Int.2013;2013:251754; PMID: 23956973.
  7. Briganti S, Picardo M. Antioxidant activity, lipid peroxidation and skin diseases. What's new. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol.2003;17(6):663-669; PMID: 14761133.
  8. Bickers DR, Athar M. Oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of skin disease. J Invest Dermatol.2006;126(12):2565-2575; PMID: 17108903.
  9. Jung MK, Hur DY, Song SB, et al. Tannic acid and quercetin display a therapeutic effect in atopic dermatitis via suppression of angiogenesis and TARC expression in Nc/Nga mice. J Invest Dermatol.2010;130(5):1459-1463; PMID: 20054339.
  10. Karuppagounder V, Arumugam S, Thandavarayan RA, et al. Tannic acid modulates NFkappaB signaling pathway and skin inflammation in NC/Nga mice through PPARgamma expression. Cytokine.2015;76(2):206-213; PMID: 26049169.
  11. Neukam K, Stahl W, Tronnier H, et al. Consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa acutely increases microcirculation in human skin. Eur J Nutr.2007;46(1):53-56; PMID: 17164979.
  12. Abel EL, Hendrix SO, McNeeley SG, et al. Daily coffee consumption and prevalence of nonmelanoma skin cancer in Caucasian women. Eur J Cancer Prev.2007;16(5):446-452; PMID: 17923816.
  13. Loftfield E, Freedman ND, Graubard BI, et al. Coffee drinking and cutaneous melanoma risk in the NIH-AARP diet and health study. J Natl Cancer Inst.2015;107(2)PMID: 25604135.
  14. Surjana D, Halliday GM, Damian DL. Nicotinamide enhances repair of ultraviolet radiation-induced DNA damage in human keratinocytes and ex vivo skin. Carcinogenesis.2013;34(5):1144-1149; PMID: 23349012.
  15. Chosidow O, Cribier B. Epidemiology of rosacea: updated data. Ann Dermatol Venereol.2011;138 Suppl 3:S179-183; PMID: 22183096.
  16. Wilkin JK. Oral thermal-induced flushing in erythematotelangiectatic rosacea. J Invest Dermatol.1981;76(1):15-18; PMID: 6450809.
  17. Grandjean AC, Reimers KJ, Bannick KE, et al. The effect of caffeinated, non-caffeinated, caloric and non-caloric beverages on hydration. J Am Coll Nutr.2000;19(5):591-600; PMID: 11022872.