Coffee and skincare—especially oils—are two of the things we love most in life. From basic coconut oil to the heavenly lineup of essential oils that has become a quintessential part of our 10 p.m. bedtime routine, we're rather infatuated. So when we began to hear rumblings about coffee oil (and a slew of very intriguing benefits), our ears perked up. After all, a few of our favorite products already feature coffee as a starring ingredient, so why shouldn't we be slathering it all over our bodies in oil form as well?
However, since some of the benefits are admittedly ambitious (think cancer-curing and depression-discouraging), we decided to ask neuroscientist (and holistic wellness expert) Leigh Winters to weigh in. Keep scrolling to learn everything you ever wanted to know about coffee oil.
what is it?
First, there is an important distinction to be made when it comes to coffee oil: the natural essence or oil, "caffeol" that is activated by heat and derived from the coffee bean itself, and the already processed oil that you can buy online or locally. As Winters explains to us, the latter is simply an infused carrier oil—essentially coffee beans that have been slowly infused (with or without heat) into a heftier oil like sesame, jojoba, or olive. But why are they called carrier oils, you ask? As they help to dilute the essential oil, they "carry" the oil to your skin. Clever, no?
Though Winters tells us you can certainly buy your coffee oil, it may be best to make your own. (We've included the easy how-to below!) Regarding the buzzy health trend as of late, Winters has some words of caution: "Be wary of trends made popular by those making lofty claims without knowledge of the efficacy of ingredients or product formulation. If you buy your coffee oil versus making it yourself, make sure you read the ingredient label to see how it was made and if it contains any harsh synthetics."
uses & benefits
So here's where things get sticky. Despite the fact many (and we mean many) coffee oil benefits have been touted around the worldwide web, there is very little scientific-backed evidence suggesting coffee oil has any legitimate benefit. In fact, many of the claims we found may be valid perks of drinking coffee (pain reduction, antioxidants, increased circulation, decreased inflammation, etc.), but don't note how much weight it carries topically.
Interestingly, there is a litany of products available rife with coffee and caffeine-enhanced perks, but as the cosmetic industry is highly unregulated in terms of the claims they're allowed to make about products, coffee oil's actual efficacy within skincare has been a topic of hot debate. So for the sake of total transparency, and since we don't believe in false advertisement here at Byrdie, here we are.
"Many tout coffee oil's skin-tightening benefits, which is a product of the coffee oil's caffeine content; however, you don’t get that perk with oil because caffeine is water-soluble. And while some say that coffee oil is an anti-aging must-have, it’s really not backed by any robust science," warns Winters. Drat.
However, Winters does make it clear that coffee oil does boast benefits when it comes to upgrading your favorite beauty products with a heavenly scent. For example, it can make a homemade lip balm or body scrub lusciously decadent, and the psychologic benefits of coffee oil aren't to be ignored.
"Psychologically, the smell of coffee oil can be incredibly beneficial. If you have a strong emotional connection to coffee—maybe you drink it every day going to work, or it reminds you of your parents growing up—whatever it is for you, the potent aroma can invoke feelings of warmth and love. This aromatic connection is often overlooked in beauty and self-care, but it’s extremely powerful." Plus, it may even stimulate your senses, which could instigate a much-needed energy boost. And of course, you're if you're combining the coffee with a moisturizing oil like jojoba or sesame, you'll definitely be doing your skin's glow and depleted moisture levels a favor. So there's that.
how to make it yourself
To make coffee oil yourself, Winters explains that you'll have to infuse the coffee beans with a heavier oil called a carrier oil. Some of the most popular carrier oils include jojoba, rosehip, almond, and olive, but Winters especially recommends sesame or jojoba (they're anti-inflammatory and filled with skin-loving vitamins).
"First, you can make a cold infusion of slightly ground coffee beans with your carrier oil, but, you'll have to let the infusion steep for two to for weeks," says Winters. Below, the step-by-step instructions:
1. Fill a mason jar 1/4 full of slightly ground coffee beans.
2. Cover beans with sesame, jojoba oil, or whichever carrier oil you've chosen to use.
3. Label the mixture with the ingredients you used and the date, and then let it infuse for two to four weeks.
4. Strain the coffee-and-oil mixture with cheesecloth or a wire mesh strainer, and then pour the infusion into a fresh jar. And, voilà! Your very own homemade coffee oil.
Alternatively (if you're impatient like us), you can make a warm infusion by heating the coffee beans and carrier oil of choice over a double boiler for about six hours.
Not into DIY projects? Don't fret, we've included our favorite coffee essential oils below.
There's nothing more intoxicating than the warming smell of coffee in the morning, and this decadent-smelling essential oil from Edens Garden makes it possible to get that morning whiff anytime, anywhere. Pair it with other rich scents like vanilla or cocoa in your diffuser, or simply hold it up to your nose during that dreaded mid-afternoon slump. (We swear, it's almost as good as an actual cup of joe.)