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Caffeine and Skin Care
Written By : Bruce Kaler, MD 
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The topical use of caffeine in skin care products at this point in time is more hype without solid evidence of any effective outcome. The numerous studies re: use of caffeine and its benefits go back forth frequently. It has some mild antioxidant properties which "may" safeguard against malignancies. However the effect is so weak that it "may" have no real effect on the actual outcome. The best current evidence is topical application of caffeine to mice in preventing sunlight induced skin cancer was inconclusive and needs more study. The study is in mice not humans and the relative amounts used would be enormous if performed in a comparable way to humans. Animal studies may be a starting point in research but findings do not necessarily transfer to humans.

Conclusive evidence and long term side effects are simply unknown. Caffeine is a weak acid and diuretic when ingested. Topical application might temporarily relieve mild swelling. Any absorption through the skin of caffeine getting into the bloodstream would be negligible. Unfortunately use of the buzzwords i.e. "antioxidant" or other health claims are unfounded or inconclusive at best.

The manufacturers of skin care products are not allowed to make medical claims about potential benefits. It is a largely unregulated industry. It is usual and customary for companies to test their products to make them "hypoallergenic" or less irritating to the skin. However all cosmetics strive for this. Some do make separate lines of products for "sensitive skin" Again the difference may be more hype and price rather than a real difference in the results. So...buyer beware! Try products from reputable companies, consult independent sources and consumer services who have tested various products. Don't think the more expensive stuff is necessarily better than the economical brand.

Remember, if the product claim seems too good to be true... it probably is not true!

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