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Are pumpkin spice lattes sabotaging your skincare routine?

It's October, which probably means that at least a few of your friends, or even you, have made some extra stops at your favorite coffee shop for a pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin flavored coffee. Let it be known now that there's no judgment here – we love pumpkin as much as the next office.

However, unlike the next office, we're probably more concerned about how this increase in caffeine is affecting your skin. We sat down with board-certified dermatologist Mark P. Seraly, MD and got his professional opinion on the fall trend.

The Caffeine Effect on Skin

To start, let's ask the most important question – can coffee even affect skin?

Yes, coffee can most definitely affect your skin; however, it is important to note that these effects are most likely happening after four or more cups of coffee or black tea. Like most things in life, coffee isn't detrimental in moderation.

How can coffee or black tea affect skin?

Well, the most common issue is dehydration. Most people are familiar with coffee being known as a laxative – but it's because coffee is a diuretic that it causes you to lose hydration, which obviously has a direct effect on your skin. Dehydrated skin can cause inflammation and premature aging. Some studies have even shown that without enough water to flush your system, toxic buildup in the skin can cause acne.

Another concern would be the tannins in coffee and black tea. Tannins are used to tan animal hides into leather, and also found in coffee. If that doesn't sound concerning in itself, then continue reading. When you consume those tannins, they end up in your liver, which filters toxins out of your body. Unfortunately, your liver retains a fair amount of toxins over time, which can lead to liver spots on your skin. Additionally, the properties in tannins that make it great for dehydrating leather can also dehydrate your skin.

That sounds terrifying. I think I'm going to skip coffee for a while.

As I mentioned, coffee and black tea are acceptable in moderation. The problem with completely cutting coffee out for many people would be going through caffeine withdrawal. Slowly cutting out a cup a day would be preferred to avoid withdrawal symptoms – headache, fatigue or drowsiness, depressed mood or irritability, difficulty concentrating, and flulike symptoms such as nausea or muscle pain.

Well, there you have it. If PSLs are encouraging you to splurge and hit four or more cups of coffee a day, your skin may start to show it. If you think it's time to consult with a board-certified dermatologist, start an online visit with DermatologistOnCall. Our doctors will provide a personalized care plan for you within 24 hours on average.