News of coffee's potent properties stimulates demand for caffeine-powered potions and treatments
After an evening of overindulgence, which many of us experienced this holiday season, a good strong cup of coffee can help kick-start the day. The debate rages, however, about the pros and cons of drinking coffee. Viewed by some as an addictive, toxic substance, others value coffee for physical and mental stimulation. But there's no debating that a cup of joe packs a punch in terms of antioxidants. Indeed, recent studies reveal that many Americans get the majority of their daily dose of cancer-fighting antioxidants from drinking coffee.
There's another way that coffee can deliver free-radical scavenging antioxidants that won't give you the jitters: through your skin. A host of new, luxurious products promise a bushel of benefits. Most frequently found as exfoliating body scrubs, these products proffer copious claims for coffee, extolling the coffee bean on the grounds that it can help fight cellulite, acne, and varicose veins, as well as moisturize, deodorize, and even diminish the damage of sunburn.
Nyakio Grieco relied on her African heritage as inspiration for her coffee-rich body scrub. "I have learned from family that coffee as an exfoliant helps to break up fatty deposits that may cause cellulite when used topically; it may also help to prevent acne; it's full of antioxidants, which are great for the skin; and it helps soothe and heal skin ailments as well as dry, cracked skin (dead skin cells). In Kenya, my family used it topically to help fight off sun exposure" Introduced in 2002, Nyakio Kenyan Coffee & Sugar Body Scrub is the best seller of Grieco's line.
LaLicious founder Jessica Kernochan is also convinced of coffee's merits; her LaLicious Coffee Bean Sugar Souffle Moisturizing Body Scrub could prove just as addictive as a daily dose of coffee. "Not only did we love the aroma of the coffee bean scrub, but applied topically, coffee is chock-full of anti-aging properties and a potent antioxidant. The grounds of your average coffee bean can help you reduce the signs of aging by fending off blemishes and acne, exfoliating, reducing fine lines, and making your skin feel clean and baby soft"
Research indicates that some of the claims attributed to coffee may amount to more than a hill of beans. Los Angeles dermatologist Jessica Wu, M.D., cites two studies on the topical application of caffeine: one for cellulite reduction and one for skin cancer prevention. In 1999, the journal Dermatological Surgery published a report on the effect of creams and lotions rich in methylxanthine, one form of which is caffeine, on cellulite. "This study showed that there was a reduction of cellulite" says Wu. The result was attributed to stimulation and fat burning in the layer of skin just below the surface. The second study, conducted at Rutgers University in 2002, found that the application of lotion containing caffeine inhibited the development of cancer tumors on the skin of mice that had been exposed to high levels of ultraviolet radiation. "What is intriguing about the study is that this is something that could be applied after the damage" says Wu. "Someday soon there [may] be a lotion that could be applied to undo the damage after you've had a sunburn" However, she cautions that the effect on humans remains to be determined, and that the caffeine used in both studies is different from what we might find in the grounds of our coffee filter.
Nevertheless, Wu won't compel her clients to kick the coffee habit. "In the case of cellulite, I recommend these products with a caveat. I say it probably isn't harmful but it may help" One of the products her clients may reach for is CelluliteRx, a three-step program of body polish, contour cream, and firming cream, of which the LipoTherm contour cream contains caffeine. Wu also extols coffee for exfoliation because the grounds are less irritating to the skin. According to Stephanie Profitt, that's because the grounds' edges are rounder than other popular exfoliating agents, which can be jagged. Profitt discovered coffee's perks in 1996 as a young professional in newly democratic, post-Soviet Russia. The harsh Moscow winter compelled her to seek relief in the banya, the traditional Russian bathhouse, where coffee grounds are used for exfoliation. This experience inspired her to create the seven-product BodyCoffee line in 2002; her Invigorating Body Polish uses Dead Sea salt instead of the sugar found in many scrubs, and the smell of coffee is subordinate to the aromas of other natural ingredients, including peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, and orange oils.
Red Flower founder Yael Alkalay looked to the bathhouse traditions of her native Turkey as inspiration for her Hamman collection. "There is a long tradition of drinking a Turkish coffee (boiled on a finjan over a hot, open flame) at the end of the hammam day" explains Alkalay. "The flavor is intense and savored with sugar and lemon rind. We drew our ingredients for the Lemon Coffee Blossom Olive Stone Scrub directly from this tradition. Adding crushed black olive stones adds to the invigorating quality and textural experience of the exfoliation. The choice of ingredients comes not only from cultural inspiration; when applied topically, coffee helps to redistribute fat cells and decrease the formation of cellulite"
There are nearly as many coffee scrub flavors as there are beverages on a Starbucks menu. Take yours black? 100% Pure's Chocolate Mocha Body Scrub is made from Belgian chocolate, Kona coffee, and berry extracts. Asiana's Peppermint Mocha Body Scrub uses Dutch cocoa with peppermint, spearmint, and cinnamon extracts. Prefer yours light and sweet? Both LaLicious Coffee Bean Sugar Souffle and Bella Lucce's Bali Kopi Coffee Scrub boast creamy coconut oil and cane sugar; while Bali Kopi ups the ante with shea butter plus coffee seed oil. Like it nutty? Juara Invigorating Coffee Scrub incorporates walnut shell powder, and Malie Kaua'i Coffee Macadamia Body Polish pays homage to its island origins, blending indigenous macadamia nuts and oil with Kaua'i coffee. Let it linger on your lips, where coffee's high antioxidant levels provide nourishment and protectionâ€”with BodyCoffee Javabalm SPF 15 or Bare Escentuals i.d. buzz latte for lips.
While the spas of Bali are renowned for their coffee treatments, you don't need to travel that far to get your spa coffee fix. The creme de la creme of U.S. hotel spas include coffee treatments on their menus. In New York City, the spa at the Four Seasons offers a full-body exfoliation, Vichy shower, and moisturizing massage using BodyCoffee scrub, lotion, and body oil, in a room fragrant with BodyCoffee candles. The Ritz-Carlton Spa in Pasadena, California, also features BodyCoffee products in its Java Rejuvenation Experience.
The Sage Springs Club and Spa at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Oregon, also offers the BodyCoffee Pure Bliss Experience, which includes an Anti-Cellulite Detoxifying Body Wrap before exfoliation and massage. The wrap utilizes gentle Kaolin clay, Ayurvedic Suvarnakanti extract, a proprietary sea algae serum infused with caffeine, and extracts from green coffee beans, higher in antioxidants than roasted beans, to expel environmental build-up. "This specific part of the treatment stimulates microcellular circulation, thus reducing the appearance of cellulite" says spa director Lynne Hite. Be warned: these caffeinated treatments are habit-forming, but they make it a pleasure to wake up and smell the coffee.
at home recipe:
Home-brewed coffee body scrubFrom Stephanie Profitt, founder of BodyCoffee
1/2 - 1 cup ground coffee: the grounds leftover from your morning coffee are ideal
1/4 cup hemp seed or sunflower oil
juice from one lemon
Mix the ingredients together. Prior to stepping into the shower, dry brush your body. Start with your legs and work in strokes towards your heart. Step into the shower and rinse your body. Then, step out of the running water and rub the coffee scrub over your body, focusing on rough patches. Rinse off the scrub. Traces of oil will remain on your skin. Turn the water off, but stay in the shower. Gently massage the oil into your skin and then get out of the shower.
Get Caffeinated at These Spas:Coffee Blossom Body Scrub
Four Seasons Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel
New York, New York
(212) 350-6420 www.fourseasons.com
BodyCoffee Java Rejuvenation Experience
The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa
BodyCoffee Pure Bliss Experience
Sage Springs Club and Spa at Sunriver Resort
Shopping ListAsiana Peppermint Mocha Body Scrub, www.asianaspa.com
Bare Escentuals i.d. buzz latte for lips, www.bareescentuals.com
CelluliteRx LipoTherm Contour Cream, www.celluliteRx.biz
Bella Lucce Bali Kopi Coffee Scrub, www.bellalucce.com
BodyCoffee Javabalm SPF 15, www.bodycoffee.com
Juara Invigorating Coffee Scrub, www.juaraskincare.com
LaLicious Coffee Bean Sugar Souffle Moisturizing Body Scrub, www.lalicious.com
Malie Kaua'i Coffee Macadamia Body Polish, www.maliekauai.com
Nyakio Kenyan Coffee & Sugar Body Scrub, www.nyakio.com
100% Pure Chocolate Mocha Body Scrub, www.puritycosmetics.com
Red Flower Hamman Lemon Coffee Blossom Olive Stone Scrub, www.redflower.com