coffee beans and ground coffee

I’ve always called coffee the nectar of the gods, but as it turns out, it might just be the fountain of youth … or something similar. Aside from the fact that research has shown that increased caffeine consumption may reduce the risk of some skin cancers (whoo hoo!), used coffee grounds applied directly to the skin or hair have cosmetic benefits as well.

Don’t Throw Out Those Used Coffee Grounds

I’ll admit it; I’m guilty of throwing away my fair share of coffee grounds — and maybe your fair share too since I’m really unfamiliar with the one-pot-a-day concept. But throwing coffee grounds away isn’t a good thing. It’s like tossing newspapers in the garbage can instead of the recycling bin, blowing your diet on a regular Coke (so much sugar!), or diving into the shallow end of the pool. It may seem harmless until you really think about it. When coffee grounds are tossed in with the rest of your trash, they might as well just be any other kind of waste.

But you can do so much more with those coffee grounds than just adding them to the compost pile.

When it comes to your skin and hair, coffee presents two great benefits. First, it’s full of caffeine (assuming you’re not drinking that abomination otherwise known as “decaf”) and caffeine is a stimulant. Sure, it gets your heart racing if you drink too much; but it also works to constrict blood vessels under the skin when applied topically, reducing the appearance of cellulite. Second, coffee grounds hold onto a nice amount of the natural oils that are present in the coffee beans themselves. Put these oils to work for you. Try some of these do-it-yourself tricks to see what I mean.

Face Scrub

For your face, skip the chemical and sometimes plastic-filled store-bought products (yes, you read that right: plastic). Instead, make a caffeine-infused exfoliating face scrub made from 1/3 cup of Epsom salt, 1 cup of used coffee grounds, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1 cup of light oil. I use virgin coconut oil religiously and love both the way it smells and the fact that it solidifies at room temperature, which makes it easier to scoop out of the jar. If you’re not a fan, try light olive oil instead. Mix all the ingredients together and store your scrub in an airtight container for use two or three times a week (only once a week if you have sensitive skin).

Exfoliating Body Scrub

Combine a mixture of 1/4 cup of coffee grounds and 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil for the best exfoliating scrub you’ll ever rub on your body. The caffeine helps constrict blood vessels and reduces the look of cellulite on your stomach, rear, and hips (yes, we all have it). For a smooth shave, use this combo on your legs. The oil provides a lubricant between your skin and the razor, while the coffee grounds help to remove dead skin buildup.

Hair Conditioning

If you want shiny, silky hair, work a couple of handfuls of coffee grounds into your ‘do before showering with your favorite shampoo. The coffee grounds, which will feel like wet sand, gently remove product buildup from your hair. Plus, the oils absorb into the hair shaft itself, acting as a natural conditioner. Just be careful if you have light-colored hair; there’s no guarantee that the coffee grounds won’t darken it up a bit.

In each instance, use coffee grounds right out of your reusable filter basket. Just give them a chance to cool off a bit. Nobody likes burns.

Have more leftover coffee grounds, or perhaps tea bags? Read 10 Ways To Reuse Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags.

Featured image courtesy of Willfried Wende from Pixabay. Originally published on April 23, 2014, this article was updated in May 2021.

By Megan Winkler

Eco-nerd, solar power enthusiast, DIY diva and professional coffee drinker, Megan has written everything from courses in healthcare and psychology to interior design and cooking advice. She has a master’s degree in military history, owns two chainsaws, is a collector of strange trivia and a world renowned Pinterest pro. She is constantly looking for better ways to do things.