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Caffeine

goodie
What-it-does: antioxidant

Details

Hello, our favorite molecule that helps us wake up in the morning and then keeps us going through the day. As a super well-known stimulant from coffee, tea and plenty of other soft drinks, Caffeine needs no introduction. So we will skip right to the part where we talk about what the hell it does in so-so many cosmetic products.

Looking at the research, we were surprised to find how versatile Caffeine is. It is a small, water-loving molecule with pretty good skin penetration abilties. Once in the skin, it has nice antioxidant properties, meaning that it reduces the formation of evil free radicals and it might even be useful in preventing UV-induced skin cancers. 

A well-known thing about Caffeine is that it improves the microcirculation of the blood vessels. Though conventional wisdom and anecdotal evidence says that this property is helpful for dark under-eye circles and puffy eyes, we have to mention that the double-blind research we have found about a 3% caffeine gel concluded that "the overall efficacy of the selected caffeine gel in reducing puffy eyes was not significantly different from that of its gel base."  But you know, the proof is in the pudding.

Another thing Caffeine is used for in body care products is its anti-cellulite effects. In theory, it can speed up the lipolysis process (the "fat burning"  by our cells) and stimulate the draining lymph system that might lead to the improvement of cellulite. But here again, the evidence that it actually makes a measurable, let alone visible,  improvement on actual human beings is limited (we could find only some animal skin studies or caffeine being combined with other actives). 

Last, but not least, we have to write about caffeine and hair growth. The theory is that it can inhibit the activity of the 5-α-reductase enzyme that plays an important role in hair loss and allows a renewed growth phase of the hair. We have found some recent and promising research to back this up. A 2017 study compared a 0.2% caffeine liquid with a 5% Minoxidil  (an FDA approved active to treat baldness) solution and found that  "a caffeine-based topical liquid should be considered as not inferior to minoxidil 5% solution in men with androgenetic alopecia", or English translation means that the caffeine liquid was pretty much as good as the FDA-approved Minoxidil stuff. Not bad!

Overall, we think that caffeine is a very versatile and biologically active ingredient. Even though some of its effects are more hyped up than backed up, it is still a nice to have on many ingredient lists. 

Show me some proof

  • Amnuaikit, Thanaporn, Duangkhae Maneenuan, and Prapaporn Boonme. "Evaluation of Caffeine Gels on Physicochemical Characteristics and In Vivo Efficacy in Reducing Puffy Eyes." (2011).
  • Bussoletti, C., M. V. Tolaini, and L. Celleno. "Efficacy of a cosmetic phyto-caffeine shampoo in female androgenetic alopecia." Giornale italiano di dermatologia e venereologia: organo ufficiale, Societa italiana di dermatologia e sifilografia (2018).
  • Dhurat, Rachita, et al. "An Open-Label Randomized Multicenter Study Assessing the Noninferiority of a Caffeine-Based Topical Liquid 0.2% versus Minoxidil 5% Solution in Male Androgenetic Alopecia." Skin pharmacology and physiology 30.6 (2017): 298-305.
  • Herman, A., and A. P. Herman. "Caffeine’s mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use." Skin pharmacology and physiology 26.1 (2013): 8-14.

Products with Caffeine

AB Crew Ab Carving Gel The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + Egcg Revolution Skincare Targeted Under Eye Serum - 5% Caffeine Solution + Hyaluronic Acid Serum Smashbox Primer Water iS Clinical Youth Serum Clinique Id Active Cartridge For Uneven Skin Tone PCA Skin Weightless Protection Spf 45 Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask Rosen Apothecary Anti-Aging Retinol Body Lotion - Age Defy - Body Firms & Brightens Allies of Skin 1A™ All-Day Pollution Repair Mask FOREO Ufo Shimmer Addict Mask Garnier Clearly Brighter Anti-Puff Eye Roller Hanacure Facial Peel Stemm High-Amino Shampoo The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum For Hair Density Topix Replenix Acne Solutions Retinol Serum 1X Topix Replenix Retinol Smoothing Serum 2X Blue Lizard Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Face Spf 30+ Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer Spf 20 Kiehl’s Eye Fuel La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Eyes Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Hydra-Gel Eye Patches Pixi Detoxifeye Depuffing Eye Patches Stemm Black Fulvic Conditioner Stemm Gold Fulvic Conditioner Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion PCA Skin Protecting Hydrator Broad Spectrum Spf Revolution Skincare Caffeine Essence Spray Simple Water Boost Hydrating Sheet Mask Stemm Density Stimuli Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer Clinique Id™: Active Cartridge Concentrate For Lines & Wrinkles Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Tonic For Men MAC Fix + Milani Make It Dewy Setting Spray Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber De-Tox Hydra-Gel Eye Masks SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E The Body Shop Mandarin Energising Face Mist Allies of Skin Molecular Multi-Nutrient Day Cream Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray Estee Lauder Nightwear Plus 3-Minute Detox Mask Helena Rubinstein Prodigy Powercell Youth Grafter The Serum Neogen Gold Black Caviar Essence & Gold Tox Tightening Pack Kit Organys Eye Cream Perricone MD Advanced Eye Area Therapy Satsuma Beauty Oil Control Hyaluronic Acid Serum Swisse Argan Anti-Aging Eye Cream The Inkey List Caffeine Serum Vichy Slow Âge Night Cream & Mask BOSCIA Sake Hydrating And Brightening Serum