By Erin Stair, MD, MPH
One day I woke up and asked myself what I could do with coffee grounds and pumpkin seed oil. Have you ever experienced this?
On a serious note, I make coffee every morning and save the coffee grounds, because you can use them for a variety of things: For instance, to fertilize your plants or make homemade skin products. I love making my own skin products, because I know it’s the freshest way to do it. No preservatives, no loss of active ingredients, no added chemicals and I know exactly how it’s made. When it comes to coffee grounds and a dab of pumpkin seed oil, I haven’t found anything that works quite as well for removing dead skin cells and making my skin soft and smooth.
So how do you make your own exfoliating body scrub using coffee grounds and pumpkin seed oil? It’s easy and it starts in your kitchen. Here’s what you need
1 cup of used coffee grounds
1/8 cup natural sugar
1/8 cups sea salt
1 tsp pumpkin seed oil
1 drop of vanilla extract
4-5 drops of your favorite essential oil, for aromatherapy benefit. I usually use rose or lemon for a pick-me-up.
Mix it all together, pour it into a container, and store it in your bathroom. Use as a whole body shower wash. Also, I wouldn’t let it sit around. I would try to use it as quickly as possible. If you don’t have a lot of time, simply use the coffee grounds from your morning’s coffee for your night-time bath with a dab of your favorite essential oil.
What’s good about this body scrub for you skin?
1)Caffeine is a Cellulite Buster:
Caffeine is a type of chemical molecule known as a Xanthine. Xanthines inhibit an enzyme called, phosphodiesterase. When this enzyme is inhibited, another enzyme called lipase is able to secure a phosphate group. When it has this phosphate group, the enzyme becomes active. The main activity of activated lipase is lipolysis, or fat breakdown, which helps fight cellulite. Caffeine is also water-soluble, so it has an easier time getting through our skin barrier as opposed to an oil-based solution.
One study showed that topical caffeine can reduce the size of fat cells by 17%. A subsequent study showed that this process is more effective if ultrasound is simultaneously used, since ultrasound was shown to improve the permeation of caffeine through the skin. Most of us don’t have ultrasound equipment at home. If you can get it at a spa or doctor’s office though, definitely try it if you are struggling with cellulite. That said, here’s my little tip: Try to increase the concentration of caffeine that is available to permeate through your skin. You can do this by rubbing it into your skin for a longer time.
2) The phenols in coffee grounds maintain their anti-oxidant activity for a long time and can hep prevent free radical damage to your skin. Free radicals are associated with premature aging.
3) Caffeine has been shown in some studies to fight the aging effects due to sun damage.
Caffeine is shown to cause apoptosis ( spontaneous cell death) of irradiated UVB skin cells that lead to non-melanoma types of skin cancer. If you’re in the sun a lot, keep this in mind.
4) Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor for skin.
I’ve looked on different beauty blogs that call it a vasodilator, but that’s not true. It is a vasoconstrictor of the arteries that nourish our skin cells, and also a vasocontrictor of our peripheral arterial system, which is how it raises blood pressure. However, it does act as a bronchodilator in our lungs, which can increase our oxygen concentration. Because coffee is a vasoconstrictor for the skin, it can help reduce: 1) redness in the skin and 2) dark, puffy circles under one’s eyes that are caused by vasodilation.
Keep in mind that long-term use of caffeine is shown to thin the skin out. This could be because it is a vasoconstrictor and a diuretic. This means that it has the potential to make your skin look older, as dehydrated skin leads to lots of lines and sagging. This is why I only use caffeine on my face as an exfoliant ( especially after a day in the sun), or under my eyes when I have PMS and retain water. On my body, it’s free game.
The added sugar and salt in the recipe are there to help optimize the process of exfoliation.
I add the small amount of pumpkin seed oil to make the solution less rough. That said, I have used pumpkin seed oil in other homemade skin concoctions. Pumpkin seed oil has many fatty acids, but is mostly made of an omega-6 fatty acid called Linoleic Acid. Linoleic Acid is converted to Gamma-Linolenic Acid ( GLA) in our bodies. A lot of skin products have GLA in them. I’ve written a blog on how omega-3 fatty acids are important for our cell membranes, but when one is talking about the skin, you need BOTH Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Omega-6s have been shown to improve skin structure and improve the skin as a barrier. Remember that with an in tact skin barrier, less outside invaders are able to penetrate our skin and create inflammation. The more inflammation, the faster you will age.
I added Rose to make the solution smell better. You want to smell good, right?
I should add that using wet coffee grounds in the shower can be very messy. Be prepared to have to clean up your tub afterwards. That said, less cellulite is worth it.