A coffee scrub is exactly as it sounds: a scrub for your skin made from coffee grounds. While specific evidence is lacking, coffee scrubs are being touted all over the internet and in beauty magazines as potential methods of natural cellulite treatment.
These products are prized for both their caffeine and antioxidant content that’s supposedly good for the skin when applied topically, but the effects on cellulite aren’t so clear.
Cellulite itself refers to the dimples in the skin that affect most women and some men. The dimples develop when fatty tissues under your skin press against tissues closer to the skin’s surface.
Cellulite can occur anywhere but tends to be most prevalent in areas where fatty tissues are present, such as the buttocks and thighs.
Once you have cellulite, it’s very difficult — almost impossible — to get rid of. Treatment usually focuses on decreasing the appearance of the dimples. Coffee scrubs might help you achieve such effects, but you should check with a dermatologist first.
What does science say?
Coffee scrubs purportedly help treat cellulite in a variety of ways.
It’s thought that the caffeine in coffee can help dilate blood vessels and reduce the appearance of skin dimples. The skin may also tighten from the stimulating effects of caffeine by improving blood flow and eliminating excess water.
Coffee is also rich in antioxidants, which are thought to help promote overall healthier skin tone. These include phenols, the plant-based chemicals that are thought to ward off free radicals in the body.
Another benefit of a coffee scrub is the natural exfoliating effects from the coffee grounds themselves. Like other exfoliating scrubs, this can help remove dead skin cells and yield a smoother, more even look to the skin. While exfoliation itself can’t get rid of cellulite, such effects may reduce its appearance.
The massaging action may also help: according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, massages can assist lymphatic drainage and stretch skin tissue to improve cellulite appearance.
Still, the overall research on coffee scrubs is lacking.
Instead, the available studies and reviews focus on cellulite treatment via caffeine and other ingredients.
One such review found that, when combined with retinol, carnitine, and other ingredients, caffeine was found to increase thickness of the epidermis (top layer of skin). Such effects were achieved with a cosmetic product containing caffeine, but not coffee in particular.
A similar study on another cosmetic cream containing caffeine yielded reduced cellulite and circumference. Again, there wasn’t any coffee in the product.
While the above research demonstrates the potential of caffeine in cellulite treatment, more clinical trials are needed.
No study to date has looked at the effects of coffee scrubs, specifically, in treating cellulite.
How to use it
To use a coffee scrub, first combine coffee grounds with hot water. Mix and keep adding more of each ingredient if needed until you’ve achieved the desired thickness. If you have dry skin, you might consider adding a small amount of coconut or olive oil to the mix.
Never mix with used coffee grounds from your coffee-maker — these have already been damaged. To gain the potential benefits of the caffeine, you also want to be sure you select traditional coffee, not decaf.
Next, apply the scrub to clean skin. Gently massage over problem areas with your fingertips without rubbing it in. You can also use a soft cloth or a dry skin brush if you find the paste too messy for your fingers and nails.
After massaging for a few minutes, rinse clean. Ideally, you want to complete this process in the shower to prevent messes and stains from the coffee grounds.
If you’re not up for making your own coffee scrub at home, you can also try ready-to-use coffee scrubs designed specifically for cellulite. Follow all product instructions and discontinue using if you notice any rashes or other signs of sensitivity to the product.
For the most benefits, you want to use the coffee scrub a few times a week. This is the same rule of thumb that applies to other scrubs, masks, and the like.
It may also take a few weeks or longer of regular use to see any significant results. After this time, you might consider seeing your dermatologist if you don’t see any improvements in your cellulite.
Should you try it?
Coffee scrubs are a trendy form of cellulite treatment with a lot of users touting positive results. Still, it isn’t clear whether the benefits are tied to the coffee or to the exfoliating action from the scrub. Others may not see any differences in their cellulite at all.
Since there is no scientific research available to back up any claims made about coffee scrubs and cellulite, you’ll want to use these with cautious optimism.
Also, as with other skin treatments, any results will likely go away once you stop using them.
You may want to discuss other methods of reducing cellulite appearance, such as exercise, with your doctor.
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