Coffee scrubs are body washes that nourish, energize, and exfoliates your skin. You can use a coffee scrub like any other exfoliant; the coffee grounds provide a mechanical means of removing the layer of dead skin that accumulates if you do not exfoliate.
The biologically active compounds in coffee might help energize and protect your skin to a better extent than a regular exfoliant, thanks to the favorable biochemical reactions inside your body to some of the compounds contained in coffee.
A coffee scrub is a great way to exfoliate your skin while also increasing blood flow, energizing your skin, and even delivering antioxidants to the surface of your skin.
Coffee scrubs can leave your skin feeling younger and smoother, and offers some distinct benefits compared to other ways to exfoliate your skin.
Need an extra caffeine boost with your daily skin care routine? Here’s a run-down on the benefits and side effects of coffee scrubs.
1. Organic Feelings The Coffee Scrub
If you want to leverage all of the benefits of a coffee scrub, The Coffee Scrub from Organic Feelings is a great choice thanks to its focus on pure ingredients and the primary benefits of coffee.
Ground, organically certified arabica coffee beans are the number one ingredient; this coffee scrub does not rely on salt, sugar, or any other mechanical exfoliant.
In addition to ground coffee, The Coffee Scrub boasts several antioxidant-rich moisturizing oils like almond oil, macadamia nut oil, and olive oil. With its coffee-centered composition and excellent moisturizing oils, it’s our number one pick.
2. First Botany Cosmeceuticals Arabica Coffee Scrub
First Botany Cosmeceuticals Arabica Coffee Scrub uses a combination of dead sea salt and coffee grounds for mechanical exfoliation of dead skin, plus the moisturizers olive oil, almond oil, grape seed oil, and shea butter oil to soothe and protect skin after it’s been exfoliated.
The lipids in the moisturizing oils may help the caffeine in the coffee grounds get absorbed more efficiently into your skin, and several of these oils are potent antioxidants in their own right. For all of these reasons, First Botany scores well.
3. Premium Nature Arabica Coffee Scrub
Like many top-rated coffee scrubs, Premium Nature Arabica Coffee Scrub comines mechanical exfoliation from dead sea salt with organic kona coffee for optimal exfoliating power.
Alongside these mechanical exfoliants, you’ll get sweet almond oil, arabica seed oil, and shea butter.
Several of the ingredients are certified organic, which is great if purity is important to you. On top of that, all of the ingredients are all-natural, making this a strong overall pick.
4. Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals Coffee Scrub
Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals Coffee Scrub puts its own spin on the traditional combination of dead sea salt and coffee grounds by adding cacao extract, which comes from the same plant that produces chocolate.
This ingredient adds a small boost of additional antioxidant power, though in large part this coffee scrub is quite similar to several of its close competitors.
5. Luvbod Coffee Scrub
Luvbod Coffee Scrub is a super simple coffee scrub with just five ingredients: coffee, sugar, coconut oil, vitamin E, and frankincense oil. It’s another great option for a coffee-centric coffee scrub.
The only downside is that you lose some of the moisturizing benefits you’ll see in other coffee scrubs that use several high-quality oils.
While coconut oil is nothing to snub your nose at, other coffee scrubs offer the added benefits of ingredients like olive oil, sweet almond oil, or macadamia nut oil.
6. Herbavana Exfoliating Body Scrub
Herbavana Exfoliating Body Scrub has a unique take on coffee scrubs thanks to the addition of hemp oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil as prominent ingredients.
It too uses dead sea salt and coffee grounds for exfoliation, but the unique oils included in this coffee scrub make for a more potent moisturizing blend.
7. Buena Skin Cosmeceuticals Arabica Coffee Scrub
Buena Skin Cosmeceuticals Arabica Coffee Scrub is a pretty solid coffee scrub that uses a combination of dead sea salts and kona coffee grounds for exfoliating action, plus sweet almond oil and other quality moisturizing oils to protect the newly exfoliated skin.
While Buena Skin Cosmeceuticals Arabica Coffee Scrub doesn’t stand out much from the crowd, it’s still a decent choice.
8. Baebody Arabica Coffee Scrub
Baebody Arabica Coffee Scrub has many of the typical ingredients you’ll see in competing coffee scrubs, like dead sea mineral particles and arabica coffee, but just from a visual inspection you can tell that the coffee content is much lower.
While other coffee scrubs are a deep, almost-black hue Baebody Arabica Coffee Scrub takes on a tone closer to brown sugar, with the occasional coffee ground speckle here and there.
The lower coffee content means you’re less likely to get much in the way of benefits beyond mere exfoliation.
9. Calily Life Arabica Coffee Scrub
Calily Life Arabica Coffee Scrub has a pleasant scent thanks to the inclusion of several natural fragrances, but it relies on mineral salts to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to exfoliation.
Unfortunately, coffee does not appear until pretty far down in the ingredients list, and most of the lubrication comes from paraffin and mineral oil, not high-quality antioxidant-rich plant and seed oils.
10. Slender Body Original Coffee Scrub
Slender Body is a fairly popular coffee scrub, it it appears to derive most of its exfoliation power from sugar, not coffee grounds.
Coffee is listed pretty far down in the ingredients list, so it’s not likely to contribute much to the power of this exfoliant.
Unlike some of its other competitors, most of the moisturizing agents are nothing to write home about either, leaving it hard to rank Slender Body Coffee Scrub any higher in the rankings.
Coffee scrub benefits and side effects
A coffee scrub is an exfoliator that uses ground up coffee beans as one of its primary ingredients.
Coffee scrubs act first as a mechanical exfoliant, meaning they use the scrubbing action of the coffee beans to lift away layers of dead skin, revealing healthy skin underneath.
This helps give your skin a more vibrant and youthful look than before. Mechanical exfoliants can avoid some of the burning sensations or reactions you can get with chemical exfoliants, like salicylic acid, which you might find in a body wash.
In addition to the exfoliating benefits of the coffee grounds, the caffeine and antioxidant content of coffee can have added benefits for your skin.
Moreover, many of the best coffee scrubs feature moisturizers that help soothe and protect the newly revealed skin after exfoliation.
Exfoliating skin with a coffee scrub can help improve the efficacy of other skin treatments, like moisturizing. At first glance, the only purpose of including a moisturizer along with an exfoliant like coffee grounds seems to be to nourish the newly revealed skin layers.
However, there’s more to it than that—cosmetics research suggests that exfoliating skin can actually improve the performance of a moisturizer, compared to just applying the same moisturizer to skin without exfoliation.
A team of cosmetics researchers in China published a scientific report that detailed how exfoliation helps other cosmetic agents penetrate skin to a greater degree (1).
According to the authors, the thick cells in dead skin prevent cosmetic agents from penetrating through to deeper layers of skin below, and as a result, a cosmetic agent like a moisturizer can’t fully hydrate additional layers of skin.
Exfoliation alleviates this problem by removing the dead skin, allowing for better penetration by other skin treatments.
When exfoliation and moisturization are paired together in a coffee scrub, these two actions can happen in tandem.
The caffeine in coffee scrubs can be absorbed directly through your skin. People mostly think of caffeine as something you consume orally—either in the form of coffee and tea, or through caffeine pills.
However, caffeine has the capability of being absorbed directly through your skin. Research published in 2004 in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology suggests that caffeine can be absorbed through skin equally well, or perhaps even better than, common transdermal medications like testosterone (2).
These findings suggest that some of the tissue-level benefits of caffeine, like increased fat metabolism and thermogenesis, could possibly be generated locally in areas where you use a coffee scrub.
While some of the more grandiose claims made by coffee scrub manufacturer, like its ability to melt away cellulite, might not be substantiated, there is at least some biochemical plausibility that could support the idea that your skin cells may have altered metabolism thanks to the caffeine content of a coffee scrub.
A coffee scrub can increase blood flow to your skin. Caffeine has potent effects on many cells in your body, including those that make up your blood vessels.
Research published in the International Journal of Vascular Medicine by a team of researchers in Colombia detailed exactly how caffeine affects blood vessels (3).
Caffeine interacts with endothelial cells, which form the lining of blood vessels, to increase production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, in turn, creates vasodilation, or a relaxing of the blood vessels. This allows more blood to flow into the area.
Combined with the fact that caffeine is strongly absorbed through the skin, it’s easy to see how a coffee scrub can help nourish skin: caffeine is absorbed through the skin, which stimulates the production of nitric oxide, leading to greater blood flow and more nutrients delivered to the skin.
This mechanism also helps explain why your skin is red after even a gentle coffee scrub exfoliation: in addition to the mild irritation caused by the mechanical exfoliation, the increased blood flow could be causing a flushing-like reaction.
While this means you might not want to use a coffee scrub right before going out, the net effect is a good one.
While the ingredients in a high-quality coffee scrub are fairly well-tolerated and unlikely to create any allergic reactions, mechanical exfoliation does have a tendency to create skin redness and irritation.
Keep in mind that some degree of redness is to be expected due to the vasodilating effects of the caffeine in a coffee scrub.
Even so, you’ll want to start using a coffee scrub gently, and only exfoliate a few times a week for starters. If your coffee scrub is not replete with moisturizing oils already, make sure you moisturize your skin well after using a coffee scrub.
The other potential side effects of coffee scrubs are mostly practical: it’s easy to get coffee granules into your hair if you aren’t careful, and it’s also very easy to stain towels and clothes with coffee scrubs—once mixed with water, they’ll stain fabric just as bad, if not worse, than spilling a cup of coffee.
Coffee scrubs are a great way to combine the benefits of mechanical exfoliation with some of the favorable effects of caffeine and antioxidants in coffee grounds.
Most high-quality coffee scrubs also contain top-notch moisturizing oils, and the combined action of exfoliation and moisturization is much more effective than merely moisturizing alone.
Coffee scrubs can energize and help deliver more nutrients to your skin, thanks to the vasodilating effects of caffeine, which is easily absorbed through your skin.
While you can irritate your skin if you use a coffee scrub too vigorously or too often, when used correctly, they are a great way to make your skin younger, smoother, more vibrant, and healthier.