Caffeine in cosmetics can de-puff the eye area, albeit temporarily. While caffeine is effective in tightening the skin in the eye area, its results are short-term. Daily use of a topical eye product containing caffeine will be necessary to maintain the look. Chemist and author David Pollock explains that there are 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine in a cup of coffee, but that it cannot be compared to active caffeine in cosmetics. "Chemists use pure caffeine in cosmetics. Less than one percent of the ingredients will be active caffeine," Pollock explains.
Causes of Eye Puffiness
Water retention, allergies and bouts of crying are the three primary causes of morning eye puffiness. Morning puffiness tends to be a result of fluid retention around the eye area, which is exacerbated by being horizontal overnight. Age and sun damage influence the skin around the eye area, and can lead to long-lasting eye puffiness, also knows as bags. Genetics also plays a role in the formation of eye bags.
Caffeine Constricts Blood Flow
Caffeine is an excellent ingredient in products marketed at de-puffing the eye area, because "caffeine is a small molecule, which is absorbed easily by the skin," explains Pollock. A vasoconstrictor, caffeine does not create blood flow, but rather tightens the blood vessels. The tightened capillaries then constrict, causing the skin to tighten with it. As the skin tightens, fluid that built up in the eye area recedes.
Benefits of Caffeine Products
Caffeine is an anti-inflammatory. When absorbed into the skin, it reduces the redness and irritation around the eye area. As a diuretic, it rids the skin of excess moisture that causes puffiness. As an added benefit, caffeine is an antioxidant. It prevents free radicals from causing damage to the skin. Free radicals are electrons that are missing a molecule. They "rob" a molecule from healthy cells, which causes damage to the healthy cells.
Effectiveness of Caffeine Products
In theory, eye products that contain caffeine can be effective. The concern to be aware of is what Pollock calls "magic dusting." Most often, products will contain between .5 to 1 percent active caffeine. Rarely is more caffeine needed. The "magic dusting" can occur when a manufacturer uses an amount of caffeine so small in comparison to the other ingredients that the caffeine is not the active ingredient. Unfortunately, there is no good way to determine how much caffeine is in a product. For an added boost of caffeine, Pollock recommends steeping, then cooling tea bags. Place the cooled tea bags on the eye area. The benefits of both caffeine and the de-puffing qualities of the cold will help with under-eye bags.