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Back in Black

Has tea had its time?

Has tea had its time? While those little leaves (whether green, white, black or red) were thought to be the key to longevity and youthful skin, recent research suggests plain old coffee may be the new darling of the antiaging world.

The first indication came when Stiefel Labs introduced RevaléSkin, a line featuring a patented coffee berry extract, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology last February. Matt Swanson, Stiefel’s executive director of aesthetic marketing, says the fruit of the coffee plant contains tremendous amounts of antioxidants—up to 10 times higher than green tea—when harvested in its pre-ripened state.

“Our clinical studies have shown a visible improvement in wrinkles, redness, rough texture and hyperpigmentation after only six weeks,” he says.

This fall, Therapy Systems dips into the coffee pot with its Coffee Cherry Reparative Treatment, made with a powdered form of whole, unroasted beans. Both products differ from previous coffee-enhanced skin care products (like anticellulite potions, which draw water from cells and temporarily tighten skin), since their long-lasting benefits come from the antioxidant power of the fruit, not the caffeinated byproduct.

Caffeine, however, may have other advantages: Researchers in France found that women who down more than three daily cups are more likely to retain verbal and visual memories longer than their abstaining counterparts. Furthermore, a combination of caffeine and exercise may even have the ability to ward off skin cancer, according to physician Allan Conney, who conducted a study in which hairless mice drank the equivalent of one to two cups of caffeinated coffee a day.

“We don’t know exactly why, but the cells that had DNA damage caused by UVA rays were killed off,” he says.

“No one should stop using sunscreen, but hopefully this will prompt more research to see if the same response is true for humans.” Finally, justification for that Starbucks habit.