Should You Be Using A Coffee Scrub? The Pros & Cons Decoded

If you've been browsing the aisles or the web pages of your favorite beauty brand, you'll probably have noticed coffee scrubs popping up all over the place.  From luxury lines like Sanctuary Spa to all-natural favorites like Lush, it seems like every company has a caffeinated bath product to offer. And let's not forget all the people across social media who have been sharing how they create their own coffee scrubs at home, touting it as the best way to 'naturally' exfoliate the skin.

But with all the popularity, one has to wonder what the hype is around these scrubs. Those who swear by them say they keep the skin feeling smooth and looking bright. But, despite the numerous videos of TikTokers slathering their morning brew leftovers across their cheeks, according to one expert, you absolutely should not be using coffee scrubs on your face. "Anything harsh on the face, even if it is coffee, is not good. You can use it as a body scrub, but never use it on the face," Vaishnavi Reddy, co-founder of Unsweetened Beauty, warned while speaking to The New Indian Express. But, with that said, you may find benefits using it on your body.

It can help with skin puffiness

As Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist, put it to Byrdie, "Coffee scrubs are scrubs that use coffee granules or finely ground coffee particles to help exfoliate the skin and remove dead cells." It's basically an exfoliator that uses coffee beans and a selection of other ingredients (depending on which one you opt for). Part of what makes them stand out from other physical exfoliants is the caffeine content — which comes with numerous skin benefits. As Dr. Rachel Nazarian, dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group, told Byrdie, "Caffeine is a great topical ingredient to improve puffiness and improve circulation in skin." Raymond Schep, chief chemist for Colonial Dames Co. and member of the CA Association of Toxicologists, pointed out to the publication that applying caffeine to the skin can also reduce subdermal fat, as well as minimize the appearance of cellulite.

But that's not all. The granules in coffee scrubs are good body exfoliants because of the way they can so easily remove dead skin from the body. "Coffee is acidic in nature and helps restore the skin's pH balance, making it a great exfoliant," Dr Syed Shazia Fatima, a medical skin and hair expert, told The New Indian Express. Using it a few times a week can result in softer, more even skin. 

There are also some potential anti-aging benefits, too. A 2012 study found, as caffeine contains antioxidants, applying it topically could help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, seeing as many recommend limiting use to the body (and not the face), the benefits may be limited. 

But coffee scrubs may not be for you

Although caffeine scrubs are relatively safe to use as a weekly exfoliant, they're not for everyone. Many dermatologists recommend avoiding them if you have sensitive skin or skin conditions. This is especially the case if you're using a homemade scrub, as the grounds can sometimes be so sharp they have the ability to cause tiny cuts on the skin. 

Those gritty grounds also mean the product isn't the most practical when it comes to cleanup. "Coffee scrubs are one of the worst things you can put down your drain," Jim Steine, Atomic Plumbing president revealed to Allure. "Even if you use a finely-ground coffee scrub just once a week, it will eventually mix with the oils in your pipes and coagulate." Not good.

It's also worth noting the effects of coffee scrubs are still being tested, and there's more work to do to know the true pros and cons. "When you're using a coffee-based product, I suggest you use them safely and with a lot of care," dermatologist Dr Swapna Priya told The New Indian Express. "The result will be time-tested, do not be for or against the products. It is a recent trend and it should be used under a doctor's supervision."