Ingredient Spotlight: Caffeine

It’s hard to miss caffeine as a star ingredient when scanning skincare shelves — and for good reason. This humble ingredient can have pretty impressive (read: near-instant) results,, especially in the morning after a heavy night or busy day prior; decreasing puffiness and reducing dark circles. So, sipping on your morning coffee whilst applying a caffeine-infused eye cream might just be your ticket to faking a great night’s sleep (though we advocate getting the real thing, too — here are our top sleep tips!), 


If you’re keen to add a caffeine-based product into your skincare regimen but want to understand more first, we’ve gathered all you need to know about caffeine skincare. 

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a mild stimulant found in drinks like tea and coffee; it works on the nervous system and essentially gives your brain a little boost of alertness. Caffeine in skincare is kind of similar, but of course there are some differences to your morning cup of Joe. 

How does it work?

In the skincare world, caffeine has a few benefits. In the way our favourite latte affects our brains, this same stimulant in skincare acts as a vasoconstrictor. This means it constricts blood vessels and reduces swelling, and therefore decreases the appearance of puffiness and dark circles. 


In addition to this, caffeine is an antioxidant, which is hugely beneficial for skin. Antioxidants work in the skin by fighting environmental aggressors and free radicals (the pesky things that can trigger oxidative stress). When antioxidant products are applied under the eyes, it can help reduce signs of ageing. Most importantly in the mornings, reduce dark circles slightly and puffiness thanks to being an anti-inflammatory. 

Why should I use it?

If you find you’re waking up and looking a little more puffy than you’d like, this is for you. As a skincare ingredient, caffeine is most commonly found in eyecare products due to its ability to reduce those sleepy morning eyes. Plus, an eye cream is a great addition to care for that skin. It’s important to protect the eye area as skin is at its thinnest and most delicate here so it’s easily damaged and is typically the first area to show signs of ageing. 

When should I use it?

Typically caffeine eye cream is formulated to be used in the morning. And just as it’s recommended you lay off the coffee post-3pm, experts advise keeping caffeine out of your nighttime routine — too much caffeine can result in dehydration, and no one wants a dry eye area! 

Limitations of caffeine in skincare

Skincare isn’t always a miracle worker though, and caffeine in your eye cream can’t fix everything. Although a vasoconstrictor, this effect is only temporary (so won’t have long-term benefits) but can make a big and immediate difference if you’re prone to waking up to swollen, puffy eyes.


If you have really pronounced dark under eye circles, you might need to visit a skin clinic for further treatments if you find your eye cream and concealer just isn’t cutting it. Having said that, most people find that caffeine-based eye creams can have a worthwhile impact on their skin. 

Try these...

This affordable option does a fantastic job at brightening the eye area whilst being incredibly hydrating, making it a wonderful pre-makeup eye cream. 

There’s a lot to love about this one — and not just the joyful yellow cream colour — thanks to the caffeine with vitamin C formula, which de-puffs and instantly brightens dark under eyes. It’s on the pricey side, but a little goes a long way. Just make sure you’re using a spatula to dip into the pot to avoid transferring bacteria into the formula daily. 

If you don’t like anything too heavy as your under eye cream, try this featherlight formula. This one is going to slightly de-puff and brighten but also work to reduce fine lines and deeply hydrate the area, making it perfect for drier skin types. 

The Ordinary serum contains caffeine and EGCG (derived from green tea) effectively targeting puffiness and dark circles. You have to be consistent though, this serum requires a level of commitment to truly see a difference. Being a light serum formula means it’s also a great option if you prefer to avoid creams. 

If a silky, luxurious cream is up there on your eye cream wish list, then Mario Badescu’s might be your favourite. This one helps revive tired and slightly puffy under eyes and works well as a primer before adding that brightening concealer. 

All about the experience when it comes to skincare? You’ll love this rollerball applicator. The metal roller ball tip means it’ll be instantly cooling and soothing on the skin, which works to de-puff right away with the caffeine-infused formula.