November 23, 2015

Finding Radiance & Energy in Caffeinated Showers.

Image is author's own.

I know how to make a good thing last—coffee, that is.

For me, there’s something even better than the last drop: the remaining grounds.

The lingering essence of the caffeinated beans might as well be called beauty beans—you don’t have to be a beauty junkie to know that coffee has been slowly but surely infiltrating skincare lines and beauty products.

I’ve been using an “espresso” body lotion for years and have shelled out an embarrassing amount of cash for “organic coffee scrubs” and other well-marketed products, because, well, when it comes to coffee, there’s a lot to exploit. Rich in antioxidants, with energizing, nourishing, glossing, cellulite- busting and exfoliating properties, coffee grounds are like the rockstar cousins to coconut oil these days.

Yet, most of what I’ve bought in store have been too sweet-smelling, too fake-smelling, or too expensive.

Showering should not be a luxury, but to make it a luxurious experience, you don’t have to break the bank. What’s better than something affordable? Upcyling. If you’re not a regular abuser of the French press like most caffeine addicts such as myself, you can even get fresh grounds for free—just ask any barista at any coffee shop and turn that compost/trash into treasure.

Here is an inconclusive list of the benefits that come with a caffeinated shower, as approved and advocated through personal experience and backed by scientists:

Aromatic awakening

I’m a night owl, often working ’till around four in the morning, if not through the night.

Most days, I don’t get the luxury to sleep in. I can’t afford to succumb to the the stresses of sleep-deprivation, nor do I find it sustainable to keep damaging myself with three red-eyes before noon, so this is what I look forward to—and count on—the most, to refresh myself for a “new” day.

This is aromatherapy in practice; a caffeinated shower is a sensual experience, and one of the best ways to kick-start your day. Here we can awaken the body by awakening our senses.

Coffee first thing on an empty stomach might be a bit hard on it, but a caffeinated shower can offer comparable stimulants. In fact, the American Chemical Society confirmed some of the first evidence provided by an international group of scientists which reported that simply inhaling coffee aroma alters the activity of genes in the brain.

The benefits of a sharp mind without body jitters? That’s invitingly invigorating.

Energize every cell

Rubbing coffee grounds into your skin literally perks you up. It’s the closest thing to coffee in IV form that is within easy reach—direct absorption through the skin cells. Just think about all those expensive body wraps at fancy spas… the theory is the same. You’re still actively pressing caffeine into your body, just without the hefty price tag.

Even the strongest coffee doesn’t completely drain the pressed beans of its caffeine, so why waste a good thing? This can literally perk up your body.

Tighter thighs, firmer butt, toned body.

Sure, a clean diet and physical exercise are the best ways to define and sculpt your body, but a little help elsewhere won’t hurt. The cellulite busting qualities of caffeine are confirmed by dermatologists and other healthcare professionals. Green coffee extract is a key ingredient in many fat-burning products, and other variations of cellulite reducing pills and supplements most often always contain caffeine.

How does it work?  Women’s Health answers, “As a stimulant, the caffeine in coffee dilates blood vessels, which temporarily tones and tightens tissue. Plus it increases circulation and reduces water retention, both of which may also help smooth the rumpled look of cellulite. The antioxidants in coffee may help to release toxins, which is not only helpful for [blasting] cellulite, but for healthy skin in general.”

Anti-oxidants help fight premature aging of the skin—we don’t need convincing that they are a good thing.

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.

One of the best expert beauty advice given to me is “SPF and exfoliate.”

Well, coffee grounds do exfoliation perfectly with natural resources rather than chemicals, which use enzymes and acidic peels.

I remember when growing up “exfoliation beads” were a big thing, but recent studies have found that such particles may not be so beneficial after all. It’s probably safer to scrub away dead skin cells with something that is safe to ingest/digest in the first place.

Coffee scrubs are a personal favourite, and I’m not alone.

Thanks to improved circulation, the prize is smooth, radiant skin.

Radiant skin

As a fitness model, I’m more critical of my body than perhaps need be, but when work depends on it, good form becomes an asset. As a pianist, and having been yoga-toned for much of my life, I do love my arms, but I used to get very insecure about the backs of them, because of all sorts of redness, roughness, and unevenness.

I started applying the coffee scrub like a topical on that very specific area, and nothing else has given me skin as smooth and as even. While many “coffee shower cocktail recipes” call for a mixture of coffee grounds and olive oil or coconut oil, coffee beans do have a natural oil in them. This oil contains 71% fatty acids, the same type you would find in margarine and soaps.

The longer the beans are roasted, the more oil it gathers, so sometimes on darker brews, you may notice a film of oil on top. This natural shower oil nourishes your skin, as it is being exfoliated. Needless to say, my shower gel usage has gone down by a significant margin—while having the softest and greatest feeling skin! I must confess that I’m not a total purist though—I do enjoy mixing in a small amount of Dr Bronner’s. The almond, lavender, and peppermint are my favourites, just like my preferences of flavoured lattés. Not a coincidence.

Head-turning hair

The problem with most hair products is that they make your hair too greasy/heavy, too hard/stiff, or too touch-unfriendly. I’ve always had a thing about other people touching my head, so a head massage is something I often skip at the salon. However, having coffee grounds massage my scalp is an entirely different sensation—it’s noninvasive, with a finer touch.

Brunettes have it even better: every wash is a colour-enriching conditioning treatment of a dark-chocolate tone with a high-gloss finish. This means that we can probably skip the pricey salon treatments that offer similar results.

I have come across other claims touting coffee for hair growth or using coffee as hair-dye—none of which I have tried or could attest to, but coffee treatment for shinier hair? Yes please.

Perhaps the only downside to showering with coffee grounds is the cleaning job afterwards: you will need to rinse thoroughly, not just your hair and body, but also the shower/bathtub itself. Coffee stains, and the tub may look dirty, but nothing comes without effort. It’s worth it, given that this is perhaps the bodycare and beauty regiment with the highest gain, the lowest cost, and an almost-nothing eco-footprint.

Love yourself, love the planet. Shower with your coffee grounds. Try it. It might just become an indispensable part of your life.

P.S. Although I quoted Women’s Health, this is for the gentlemen, too!




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Author: Xiren Wang

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: author’s own

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