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

7 minutes

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 friends 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?

Consuming caffeine, especially later in the day, can interfere with sleep. Poor sleep quality can lead to increased signs of ageing and a decrease in the skin's ability to recover from environmental stressors.

Caffeine can dehydrate the 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.

Dehydration from coffee, tea, or soft drinks can cause skin redness or inflammation. It can also lead to a dull complexion and skin dryness, which may result in premature fine lines and wrinkles.

With overconsumption of caffeine, the area around the eyes can appear sunken, and any imperfections, such as fine lines and wrinkles, can become more pronounced.

Additionally, overconsumption of caffeine can lead to fluid loss and deplete important nutrients in the body like water-soluble vitamin B, which is crucial for maintaining healthy skin. Lack of these nutrients may contribute to the development of wrinkles.


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 (1). Stress hormones, such as cortisol, may increase the amount of oil produced by your sebaceous glands, meaning you can be more prone to breakouts (2).


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. 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 (3).

  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 (4).

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 Regenerist Day Face Cream With SPF30.
Make your favourite cup of caffeinated beverage the healthiest it can be:

  • Try drinking your coffee or tea black and with minimum additives.

  • Steer clear of refined sugars and sweet syrups; consider a natural sweetener like stevia instead.

  • Opt for non-dairy alternatives such as almond or coconut milk rather than cow's milk.

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening to improve sleep quality.

  • Choose decaf coffee.

  • Forgo pastries and doughnuts typically consumed with coffee.

Olay Regenerist Day Face Cream With Spf30 - in packaging

Regenerist Niacinamide SPF 30



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 and try skin care with caffeine in your routine.


  1. Lovallo WR, Whitsett TL, al'Absi M, et al. "Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion across the waking hours in relation to caffeine intake levels." Psychosom Med. 2005 Oct;67(5):734-9. []

  2. Christos C Zouboulis, “Acne and sebaceous gland function.” Clin Dermatol. 2004 Sep-Oct;22(5):360-6. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2004.03.004. []

  3. Clement A Adebamowo 1, Donna Spiegelman, F William Danby, A Lindsay Frazier, Walter C Willett, Michelle D Holmes, “High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne”, J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Feb;52(2):207-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2004.08.007. []

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


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