Caffeine is a heterocyclic alkaloid organic compound that is found in the seeds, nuts, and leaves of multiple plants native to South America and East Asia. As a skingredient, it can now be found in over 185 products including, but not limited to, facial moisturizers, scrubs, eye creams, anti-cellulite lotions, sunscreens, and tanning bronzers.
What Does Caffeine Do?
Some common properties and functions of caffeine include…
According to the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database, caffeine is recognized as a generally safe low hazard ingredient. This may be due to the relatively low concentration of caffeine found in cosmetics, typically estimated around 3%. As a good rule of thumb, test new products on a skin patch prior to full use. Side effects of topical caffeine have not been vigorously discussed in reports, with findings including:
Topical application may be more potent than originally thought. Scientists demonstrated exponential absorption of caffeine, particularly in skin with impaired barrier function.
The Buzz About Caffeine
It’s not just about skin-care, baggy eyes, and anti-cellulite. Caffeine is used as a hydrophilic model for testing how to make drug delivery more effective via the skin. Compounds such as nanoparticles and microemulsions ie: “permeation enhancers” are in development to better understand how to improve topical and transdermal application.
Practical Tips for Using Caffeine
Pay attention to labels, and ask professionals. Your dermatologist is a great source for science-based research and formulas specific to your unique skin care
Start small: test a new product with caffeine on a small area of skin prior to full use
Avoid more sensitive parts of the skin, including under the eyes, face, or in particular dry/itchy areas.
Take a before and after photo. Comparisons can better identify if a product is worth its value.
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