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What-it-does: antioxidant, perfuming


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 a known amount of Caffeine

Other products with Caffeine

AB Crew Ab Carving Gel Codage Paris Concentrated Body Milk Slimming & Draining Glytone Age-Defying Antioxidant Eye Cream Kiwi Botanicals Brightening Eye Cream REPLENIX Power Of Three Serum Revox Just Caffeine 5% The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + Egcg lalu Glow Cream Cépage Tenseur Ha Dermage Sérum Clareador Clarité Olhos Cc Eximia Hyalu Filler Complex 3D Co Grow Gorgeous Hair Density Serum Intense Nioxin Night Density Rescue Patchology Illuminating Eye Gels Revolution Skincare Targeted Under Eye Serum - 5% Caffeine Solution + Hyaluronic Acid Serum Salon Line Tônico Fortalecedor Original Smashbox Primer Water The Inkey List Caffeine Stimulating Scalp Treatment Typology Eye Serum 5% Caffeine + 5% Niacinamide Zine Energetic Suero Anti-Puff Eye Roller Vitamina C + Cafeína asap Firming Eye Lift iS Clinical Youth Serum CP-1 Head Spa Scalp Tincture Clinique All About Eyes™ Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage Clinique For Men Super Energizer™ Anti-Fatigue Depuffing Eye Gel Clinique Id Active Cartridge For Uneven Skin Tone Clinique Id: Moisturizer + Concentrate For Uneven Skin Tone Clinique Id™: Active Cartridge Concentrate™ For Reactive Skin Davines Naturaltech Energizing Gel Dermaglós Emulsión Para Rojeces Estée Lauder Set + Refresh Perfecting Makeup Mist Maika Beauty Sérum Para Área Dos Olhos Panda Eyes OGX Fight Fallout + Niacin & Caffeine Conditioner PCA Skin Weightless Protection Spf 45 Pacifica Clean Shot Mushrooms & Caffeine 7% Solution Payot Celluli-Ultra Performance Cellulite Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask Pharmaceris Intensive Hair Growth Stimulating Treatment H-Stimuforten QRxLabs Eye Reboot Serum Rosen Apothecary Anti-Aging Retinol Body Lotion - Age Defy - Body Firms & Brightens SVR Laboratoires Ampoule Refresh Swissline cosmetics Eye Zone Booster Vichy Crème Dépilatoire Dermo Tolérance XX Revolution Glow Fixx Brightening Setting Spray Ahava Deadsea Plants Firming Body Cream Allies of Skin 1A™ All-Day Pollution Repair Mask Allies of Skin Peptides & Antioxidants Firming Daily Treatment Clinique Id™: Active Cartridge Concentrate For Fatigue