As if I needed more reasons to maintain my caffeine habit, I was delighted to hear on the news this morning that my morning cup of Joe is doing more than protecting me from diabetes, it may also be doing other good things.
New research indicates that caffeine is able to interrupt a protein in skin cells damaged by UV rays, causing the cells to self-destruct and thereby offering some protection against skin cancer AND may help reduce cellulite. Hooray! Let’s hear it for Joe!
However, the lead researcher cautioned that people shouldn’t increase their intake of caffeine, but said topical caffeine preparations may one day be created to help prevent skin cancer. Well, pooh on him. But until the cream is available, I will continue my 10-cup a day habit. I may even try rinsing my hair in it, since there is evidence it may protect against hair loss.
Caffeine is clearly being heralded as “a new exciting product used in many topical creams both as an anti-inflammatory product as well as an anti-oxidant.” Dr. Melissa Babcock explains why caffeine is now finding itself one of the more pre-eminent ingredients in the cosmetic industry.
“First off, caffeine is best known for its ability to cause vasoconstriction (the ability to make blood vessels smaller) and therein to decrease redness in skin.” Dr. Babcock shares that, “for patients with rosacea, this can be a wonderful product.” However, she reminds us that “the effects are not long term so the product needs to be applied daily for best results.
In a recent study, coffee was declassified as a diuretic. Previously thought to contribute to fluid loss, coffee consumption has now been found to be no more effective as a diuretic than water. Further, another doctor (Dr. Linder) found several studies “on the physiology of cellulite that support microvascular changes in cellulite-effected tissue.” WHAT? WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME THIS?
She is wary, though, that while “these studies show caffeine increasing microcirculation, topical products cannot typically penetrate the skin and devices like ultrasound may be needed for proper absorption.
Dr. Babcock also comments on the use of caffeine in hairloss remedies. She said caffeine has increased hair growth and prevented the negative effects of testosterone on hair growth in cultured hairs.”
Uh-oh. I’d better scale back on my coffee ground facials if I don’t want to start shaving! No joke. I’ve been slathering coffee grounds on my face for two years now and it really leaves and nice dewy feel to my skin. My eyesight is getting bad – has anyone noticed a mustache?
Dr. Linder tentatively touts caffeine’s ability to spur hair growth in male pattern baldness. She mentions a Swiss company Alpecin, whose hair loss restoration products claim that caffeine causes increased hair growth. In support of Alpecin’s claim, Dr. Linder cited a study from the Department of Dermatology and Allergology, at the University of Jena, in Germany, that found that caffeine did seem to stimulate hair growth during in vitro testing. However, in an effort to be duly diligent regarding the long term benefits of caffeine for hairloss, Dr. Linder cautions that, while this is “a creative use of a ingredient to try to improve an often frustrating problem, I would need to see more data, clinical results and proof that their delivery vehicle insures the caffeine is absorbed before making a conclusion.”
Can Caffeine Permanently Turn back the Clock?
Ultimately, after reviewing the findings of many pre-eminent dermatologists and cosmeceutical experts, there clearly is not enough clinical data to definitively determine whether a product relied upon to wake us up in the morning can also have a lasting effect on the ravages of time?
(But look how long it took them to declare the simple aspirin a miracle drug.)
Dr. Babcock offers some sage advice to those looking for the fountain of youth in the bottom of their coffee cups.
“People should consider where they buy products with caffeine or other antioxidants. It is important to determine what the concentration of the active ingredients is. Cosmetic companies understand what ingredients are popular and try to include them in their products for advertising purposes. Sometimes the levels of active ingredients are so low that they are ineffective. Products sold in physicians offices many times have higher concentrations of active ingredients and are better made.”
So the caffeine controversy continues. Enjoy a cup of coffee with breakfast, and afterwards, appreciate that cellulite cream with caffeine, even if its benefits last only for the few hours you are on the beach.