All Topics
Dangers de la caféine en application topique.

Are there dangers associated with the topical use of caffeine?

Due to its biological activity and the numerous benefits it offers, caffeine is increasingly being used in the production of many cosmetic products. Given this growing popularity of this active ingredient, it seems interesting to determine whether it poses a risk to the body.

Published February 27, 2023, updated on June 20, 2024, by Stéphanie, Doctorate in Life and Health Sciences — 4 min read

Topical Application: Does Caffeine Pose a Risk?

Naturally present in plant constituents such as coffee seeds, tea leaves (theine), guarana berries (guaranine), yerba mate leaves (mateine), kola nuts, or cocoa beans, the caffeine is a chemical compound that is gaining interest for cosmetic formulations. Antioxidant, stimulating, draining, lipolytic, soothing... it is incorporated into the formulation of many cosmetics to improve the appearance of the skin and the condition of the hair.

What also contributes to its success is its harmlessness. To date, caffeine is considered well-tolerated by all skin types in skincare, even though rare cases of urticaria and allergy reactions have been recorded. Non-irritating, non-allergenic, and non-sensitizing, caffeine falls into the category of products generally recognized as safe (GRAS). It is also not classified as a CMR substance according to regulation (EC) 1272/2008.

Are there precautions for use to consider?

  • Bioavailability: For cosmetic use, the ability of caffeine to influence various processes occurring in the skin depends on its ability to penetrate through the skin barrier. A study revealed that after 24 hours, the highest concentration of applied caffeine was localized in the epidermis and only a small amount of the alkaloid was detected in the dermis. However, the type of galenic preparation of the skincare product influences the diffusion profile of caffeine through the skin. An increase in caffeine permeability was observed in water-in-oil nano-emulsion formulations compared to aqueous caffeine solutions. Moreover, for caffeine to reach target tissues, it can be carried either by alcohol, which promotes penetration, or by permeation promoters (e.g., niacinamide, oils, glycols, etc...), which increase the solubility of caffeine and facilitate its permeation through the skin, or encapsulated in liposomes, microspheres that deliver the active ingredients to their target.

  • Dosage: Contrary to what one might think, caffeine is not subject to a usage limit in the European cosmetic regulation. However, it is recommended to not exceed 5% of the final mixture for topical application and to always use it in a diluted form. Beyond this dosage, caffeine can irritate the skin and pose risks of allergy symptoms: redness, irritation, itching...

  • Efficacy: For a notable lipolytic action , it is important to ensure that the skincare product contains between 2 and 5% of caffeine in its formula. At a concentration below this, the product will be less effective.

  • Tolerance: Before incorporating a new ceramide-based skincare product into your routine, we recommend you conduct a tolerance test. This is done by applying a small amount of the product to the inside of your elbow, behind your ear, or on the inner side of your wrist. If you do not notice any adverse reaction within the next 24 hours, you can use the product.


  • STUTTGEN G. & al. The quantitative distribution of percutaneously applied caffeine in human skin. Archives of Dermatology (1979).

  • RICCIERI F. & al. Modulation of caffeine skin delivery by carrier design: liposomes versus permeation enhancers. International Journal of Pharmaceutics (1994).

  • LADEMANN J. & al. Permeation of topically applied caffeine through human skin – a comparison of in vivo and in vitro data. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (2009).

  • BRIANÇON S. & al. Caffeine microspheres - a compelling vehicle for optimal skin penetration. International Journal of Cosmetic Science(2010).


Understand your skin
and its complex needs.