Is coffee bad for your skin? We explore the effect of caffeine on skin

Is coffee bad for your skin? We explore the effect of caffeine on skin

1 minute
Enjoying a morning cup of coffee is part of a daily routine for millions of people and as ingrained within our morning as showering and dressing. Coffee fiends look forward to a caffeine hit for a burst of energy and without it, some people feel sluggish as our bodies can become reliant on it. Others prefer a cup of tea which contains almost as much caffeine, and both beverages have their pros and cons when it comes to their effects on your body and your skin.

Caffeine in moderation is actually a good thing and studies have shown that caffeine intake can help increase well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability. Once you exceed four or five cups of either tea or coffee however, you might experience symptoms like jitteriness, migraines and nervousness. Caffeine can also interfere with the compound in your body that helps you fall (and stay) asleep.

How does caffeine affect your skin?

But what about the effects of coffee and tea on our skin? Caffeine is a dehydrator, similar to alcohol and sodium, and when our bodies lack all important hydration, it can show up on your skin, too.

And acne? While coffee doesn't cause acne, some studies suggest it can make it worse. Caffeine makes you feel alert and awake but also leads to a heightened stress response in the body. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, may increase the amount of oil produced by your sebaceous glands, meaning you can be more prone to breakouts.

In addition to caffeine, how you enjoy your coffee may also have an effect on your skin. Key ingredients of a cup of coffee or tea include milk and sugar, two of the top four dietary acne triggers making skin more prone to breakouts (1).

  1. Dairy For latte lovers, milk could be affecting your skin too, as there's enough evidence to strongly suspect that dairy milk plays a role in acne – especially seen around the mouth and jawline area.

  2. Sugar Chances are, unless you are drinking plain black coffee, your cup will contain sugar and that too can be affecting your skin. Excess sugar in your bloodstream can cause Glycation, a natural chemical reaction which happens when sugar levels in the bloodstream spike beyond what our insulin can handle. Glycation affects the part of our skin that keeps it ‘springy’ – collagen and elastin. When these two proteins link with sugars they become weaker and when these essential skin building blocks are impaired, the signs of ageing become more apparent; skin becomes drier and less elastic, resulting in wrinkles, sagging and a dull skin appearance (2).

Combatting potentially negative effects of tea and coffee on skin

Drinking coffee and tea isn’t all bad and as the saying goes, everything in moderation. So how much is too much coffee? The suggestion is no more than two to three cups per day, and ensure you drink enough water to hydrate from the inside, while keeping skin moisturised with products such as Olay Total Effects 7in1 Anti-Ageing Moisturiser SPF15.


But did you know that caffeine and tea extracts can also be powerful skin care ingredients? Anti-oxidants found in green tea extract have been shown to have anti-ageing properties, and caffeine is used in some brightening and firming skincare products. Enough reasons to enjoy your favourite beverage as a morning drink as well as your new skincare buddy.



  2. Diet, Skin Aging, and Glycation. Z Draelos. Cosmetic Dermatology, 2012, VOL. 25 NO. 5