Caffeine strikes A delicate balance between soothing and invigorating. Whether it’s a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter morning, a warming tea with friends, or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, caffeine is probably best known for its stimulating benefits. It is found in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of more than 60 plants, including tea leaves, kola nuts, and coffee and cocoa beans. To some, it’s a rich, decadent treat—think dark chocolate truffles—while to others, it’s a morning necessity.
Regardless, as sure as there seem to be 10 Starbucks stores in a 10-block radius, you can bet most of your spa guests are on a first-name basis with this substance. Take advantage of caffeine’s universal familiarity, and incorporate it into spa treatments to perk up winter skin and sales. “Spa-goers love coffees and teas and also associate caffeine with energy and vitality. What better way to get your energy and antioxidant boost than through your skin,” says Victoria Tabak, president of Nature Pure Labs. “It is quite interesting that when caffeine is taken orally, it isn’t necessarily super healthy because of its dehydrating effect, but when applied topically, it equates only benefits to the skin and the entire body system.”
Caffeine is rich in antioxidants, which makes it an excellent hydrating, anti-aging ingredient when applied to dry skin. Plus, it’s stimulating and works as a booster, Tabak says, and as a secondary action, it has a calming effect and anti-inflammatory abilities.
Dyanna Body & Nail Spa (New York City) offers the Nature Pure Labs Green Tea Super Antioxidant Rejuvenation Facial ($85, 60 minutes) to banish dull skin. Green tea is abundant in epicatechins, a powerful antioxidant that acts as a free-radical scavenger, inhibiting chemical carcinogens, protecting against UV radiation, and encouraging younger looking skin. Additionally, anti-inflammatory flavonoids and caffeine stimulate, energize, and improve skin resiliency. It’s like a morning cup o’ joe but for the face.
Aside from its edible and drinkable attributes, perhaps caffeine’s most widely known skincare benefit is its effectiveness at combating cellulite. Caffeine does this, working in combination with other ingredients, by stimulating adipose tissue, explains Tabak. This is why Nature Pure Labs incorporates caffeine in its LipoMelt Anti-Cellulite Treatment ($110, 55 minutes), which is offered at The Grotto Spa at Hilton Garden Inn (Staten Island, NY). This full-body treatment stimulates fat tissue, causing it to release energy, which increases fat cell metabolism and diminishes cellulite. “The best treatments using caffeine are cellulite and slimming treatments because of the lipolitic effect on the cellulite and fat cells,” says Rita Teixeira, international trainer for Sothys. In other words, it helps increase circulation and break up fat, therefore reducing cellulite.
Sothys uses vectorized caffeine 8 percent, a patented mixture of caffeine and natural ingredients including phospholipids and willow bark. This form—used in Sothys’s Slimming and Firming Body Line—has better solubility, enables more effective penetration of the caffeine, and has high bioavailability, explains Teixeira. The Signature Slimming Treatment ($125, 50 minutes; $150, 75 minutes) at Sothys Institute Spa (New York City) focuses on treating each type of cellulite: adipose, aqueous, and fibrous. Additionally, Sothys’s Signature Firming Treatment ($125, 50 minutes; $150, 75 minutes) targets stretch marks with a caffeinated wrap and body serum, firming up trouble areas such as the stomach, thighs, rear, and arms.
“Caffeine is high in antioxidants and a natural stimulant, so we love the ingredient for anti-aging and rejuvenating treatments that are meant to stimulate blood cells and invigorate the skin,” says Stephanie Baresh, director of marketing at Éminence Organic Skin Care. The organic line uses caffeine in its Cinnamon Kiss Lip Plumper to plump lips. And because caffeine is naturally occurring in pure cocoa, Éminence chocolate products, such as the Chocolate Mousse Hydration Masque and Chocolate Truffle Body Wrap, also contain a low level of caffeine. “Cocoa and caffeine are high in antioxidants, so they are fantastic for anti-aging products that fight free-radical damage,” says Baresh.
Plus, caffeine is deeply hydrating, which makes it an ideal ingredient in winter skincare. And while chocolate mousse and truffles may not fit with New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym and lose a few pounds, a calorie-free chocolate dessert—in the form of a good-for-you treatment—is sure to appeal to spa guests.
Tabak suggests promoting treatments containing caffeine by offering complimentary season-specific flavors of coffee, such as pumpkin or peppermint, or other light-caffeine drinks in the spa. Because people naturally drink more warm drinks during the cooler months, why not host a networking event, says Teixeira. Guests can chat over a cup of coffee, and spa professionals can offer mini hand or foot treatments and demonstrations with caffeine products. Just remember, caffeine is a natural stimulant, so it should not be used on pregnant women. Also, clients with rosacea or hypersensitive skin may find it too stimulating. For most spa guests, however, Tabak recommends advising that the treatment is stimulating, so while it may cause some redness in its initial action stage, as it continues to work, it will calm the skin and reduce redness. Then sit back, relax, and drink in the rich, warm rejuvenating properties of caffeine, as it’s sure to have guests buzzing about your skincare treatments well into the new year.