Coffee is more than just a delicious beverage. It can also be used to create skincare products—like scrubs. Ground coffee is the perfect texture for a physical exfoliant, and the ingredient itself offers a host of skincare benefits. Ahead, we tapped two dermatologists to explain more about why you may want to consider using a coffee scrub and how to work one into your current skincare routine.
Meet Our Expert
What Are Coffee Scrubs?
“Coffee scrubs are scrubs that use coffee granules or finely ground coffee particles to help exfoliate the skin and remove dead cells,” explains Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
As a reminder, there are two types of exfoliation: physical, which relies on abrasive ingredients to buff off dead cells mechanically, and chemical, which uses ingredients such as acids to dissolve the ‘glue’ that holds dead cells together. Coffee scrubs fall into the former category.
The Benefits of Coffee Scrubs
As mentioned, coffee scrubs provide exfoliating benefits first and foremost; By sloughing off dead cells, you’ll reveal fresh, radiant skin, and any active ingredients you use after the fact will be better able to penetrate, notes Dr. Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Not to mention that your skin will also feel softer and smoother.
Beyond that, the caffeine in the coffee provides ample benefits. Caffeine increases the local microcirculation of the skin, according to King. Translation? It can help give skin a healthy-looking glow. There is some research showing that caffeine may also dehydrate fat cells, making them temporarily look less visible, she adds. “Caffeine also helps to vasoconstrict the blood vessels, which can make the skin appear less puffy and swollen,” Garshick adds. That being said, because a scrub is a wash-off product, it’s highly unlikely that any of those benefits will be as potent as they would be in a leave-on, like a cream.
Are Coffee Scrubs Safe for All Skin Types?
Both experts we spoke with note that if you have very sensitive skin (or a condition such as eczema or psoriasis), it’s best to avoid physical scrubs entirely. And, in the realm of scrubs, while coffee scrubs are less abrasive than salt-based ones, sugar scrubs tend to have the softest granules, notes Garshick. Still, if you choose a coffee scrub that contains soothing ingredients (think: glycerin, ceramides, shea butter) and use it properly, coffee scrubs should be well-tolerated by most people, says King. We recommend Palermo Body’s Coffee Body Scrub ($56) or UpCircle’s Coffee Face Scrub ($22).
How to Add a Coffee Scrub to Your Routine
“If you’re looking to incorporate a coffee scrub into your routine, it’s best to use it one to two times per week to avoid over-exfoliating, which can lead to skin irritation and sensitivity,” advises Garshick. When you use it, apply light pressure, cautions King. Pressing and rubbing too hard will increase the abrasiveness of the scrub and can elicit irritation. Once you’re done using the scrub, make sure to apply a moisturizer to ensure your skin remains hydrated and calm.
The Final Takeaway
Coffee scrubs are an effective method of physical exfoliation. Using them weekly can help remove dead skin, helping to reveal smoother, radiant skin. The caffeine in coffee can also potentially help make the skin look less puffy. The best part? Our experts say coffee scrubs are suitable for most skin types unless you have incredibly sensitive skin.
Up Next: Does Caffeine Really Make a Difference in Skincare Products?