Why You Need Coffee In Your Beauty Routine

Oil is kind of my thing. Sounds a bit strange, I know. But just as some beauty editors are obsessed with hair color or lipstick (okay, I love those too), I’m fascinated with oils and their effects on hair and skin. I’ve written about and tried so many over the past few years that I thought I had my bases covered. But just last week, a bottle of coffee oil showed up on my desk, just to keep me on my toes.

I consume my fair share of java (a cup every morning, plus a rogue afternoon pick-me-up here and there), and I've been schooled in the exfoliating powers of coffee grounds (oh hey, Frank). But coffee oil? This was new. So I reached out to oil expert and founder of Uma Oils Shrankhla Holecek to get some insight. It turns out that coffee isn't new in the world of essential oils, but few beauty companies have tapped into its power. "It has antioxidant properties, so it can help alleviate the damage from sunlight and environmental toxins," says Holecek. "Hence, it can be a good addition to one's ongoing anti-aging regimen and skin care overall." Desert Essence seems to be one of the first brands to test these waters with its blend of organic coconut, jojoba, and coffee oil for body, face, and scalp — and, of course, I had to try it.

I opened the bottle and instinctively took a long whiff. Mmmm...coffee indeed. The scent is reminiscent of something between a freshly brewed pot and those See's Candies coffee-flavored lollipops (you know what I'm talking about, West Coasters) — undoubtedly rich, sweet, and malty. While one coworker turned up her nose at first waft (do note that she reaches for the tea bags stashed in her desk drawer when the rest of us go on our afternoon Starbucks runs), most of our team agreed that, though intense, it smells delicious.

But is delicious how one wants to smell all day? For some, maybe. I, however, was happy that after the coffee oil had absorbed into my skin when I applied it in the a.m., the smell dissipated and eventually faded away, making olfactory space for a spritz of Jo Malone. Oh, and let's rewind to that absorbed into my skin thing I just mentioned — it did this wonderfully, leaving no greasy residue or icky feeling. Check.

Every morning before I towel off after showering, I lather a dime-sized amount of almond oil onto my bod. This week, I swapped it for the coffee-oil blend and my skin was none the wiser. I'm always a little leery when it comes to putting something new on my face, but I went for it this time, smoothing it on before my moisturizer at night and mixing it with moisturizer during the day. Again, the coffee smell was nice per se, but it felt oddly out of place in my skin-care regimen. I got a little red after I first applied it, but that quickly faded and my skin was noticeably softer and suppler. This was the first face oil I have integrated back into my skin-care routine since the end of summer (I save them for the colder months), and whether it was the jojoba, coconut, or coffee oil working its magic (or the combo of the three), it was very much a welcomed reunion.

Throughout the week, I also used the oil to smooth flyaways on my semi-thick, semi-wavy, definitely frizzy hair, and it got the job done without weighing down my strands. Check. Then, over the weekend, I went full-throttle into tester mode and slept with an oil mask in my hair. I rubbed the elixir into my scalp and combed it through to the tips, wrapping it up in a lightweight headscarf before I said good-night. As I laid down my head, the coffee aroma immediately flooded my senses. Unlike when it's on the skin, when your whole head is covered in the stuff, you smell like nothing short of a double espresso. All. Night. Long. I tossed and turned myself to sleep — had the caffeine gone to my head? The oil contains a small amount of the stimulant, so puns aside, probably.

The directions say to massage the oil into the scalp and leave it on for just 20 minutes — not to mention, I used one-third of the small $17 bottle in one sitting, err, sleeping. Despite all this, after washing and drying the next morning, my hair looked and felt good — silky and shiny, as if I had received an in-salon treatment. My newfound coffee glossiness didn't go unnoticed, either; my coworker (if I'm the oil person, she's the hair person) complimented my hair the second I walked into the office on Monday. I proceeded to run my fingers through it all day, and there wasn't a frizzy flyaway in sight.

Coffee oil mixed with carrier oils (almond, jojoba, coconut, etc.) is not only good for shine, but Holecek says it stimulates the scalp and can potentially help growth as well, though there haven't been many studies to back that up. She adds that it's both invigorating and warming. I'm thinking this uplifting combo, plus its moisturizing abilities, makes coffee oil a must-have for winter — you might just have to splurge for a Venti.

Desert Essence Organic Coconut, Jojoba, & Coffee Oil, $16.99, available at Desert Essence.
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