You might've heard that caffeine consumption can cause dark circles and puffiness beneath the eyes. So what's this active ingredient doing in eye creams? And do such products work? Find out here.
Caffeine leads a double life when it comes to dark circles and under-eye puffiness. Drink or eat caffeine, and you'll worsen both of these complexion flaws. Apply caffeine to your skin, and you may improve them.
How can one ingredient worsen and alleviate the same condition? Let's take a deeper look at this enigmatic ingredient.
The Effects of Caffeine on the Body
Caffeine is known to do three things:
Prevents damage through antioxidant action
Stimulates vasoconstriction, or narrowing of blood vessels
The third characteristic is the important one when it comes to the treatment and prevention of dark circles and puffiness.
What happens when caffeine is consumed in foods, beverages, and supplements?
When caffeine is ingested, vasoconstriction is induced at a very deep level. Everything you take in is delocalised by the circulatory system. This means when you ingest caffeine, all of your vital organs—including the skin—experience this substance's effects.
When caffeine is ingested, it constricts blood vessels from the inside out. That means it has the strongest effect on the blood vessels deepest within the skin.
This is where things get interesting. When you cause vasoconstriction within the deepest layers of skin, dark circles and puffiness are accentuated. That's because constriction at this level slows the transport of blood out of these areas in addition to slowing lymphatic drainage.
What happens when caffeine is applied topically to skin?
When you use a skincare product with caffeine as an active ingredient, the caffeine works in a different way: from the outside in. This means topical caffeine has the greatest effect on the top layers of skin. When you constrict blood vessels at this level, you end up decreasing under-eye circles and puffiness.
This is likely because the constricting effect pushes blood back into the main circulatory system, which is found within the deeper layers of skin. Vasoconstriction is also likely to firm the skin due to the removal of fluids and possible stimulation of the lymphatic drainage system.
Before concluding that caffeine-active eye creams are effective, one must look at another factor: penetration. How well does caffeine penetrate skin? If it's just acting on the very top layers, the treatment will be minimally effective.
This is why you'll hear controversy as to whether caffeine-based cellulite creams are effective. The science usually concludes there are just too many layers of skin to penetrate before dehydration of fat cells would be possible.
However, an eye cream has far fewer layers of skin to penetrate. The skin around the eyes is significantly thinner. Furthermore, an eye cream does not have to affect deep, thick layers of fat as a cellulite treatment would. So caffeinated eye creams are highly likely to be effective.