Okay so last week, we glopped up a DIY facial scrub out of honey and brown sugar. And one of you geniuses in the comments was all “what about coffee grounds tho” and I have PLENTY of coffee grounds, no shame, and a willingness to put random shit on my face in the interest of science and/or hilarity. Flip your lawn chairs open, this gon’ be good.


Something I’ll probably regret, but whatever. Anyway, yeah. Coffee! It smells good! I tried to do research to see if there’s anything exceptionally beneficial in there, and came away mostly empty-handed. There’s some evidence that topical application of caffeine can stimulate collagen production, but I’m doubtful that this amount in this format on your face for not-very-long would be hugely helpful. Also, caffeine is used in a number of topical products as a “skin tightening” agent, but those results are inevitably short lived and I don’t care. But also, coffee contains phenols and assorted antioxidants, which may or may not do anything. Mostly I was wondering what the oil content was — oleic/linoleic content etc — but the seemingly-legit research I was able to find was either A) about unroasted coffee beans which had not B) been ground up, brewed, and then sat around all soggy for half a day, and/or C) was behind a paywall and lol nope. So anyway, the upshot is that coffee grounds may or may not have beneficial stuff in them, but even if they don’t it’s prolly not gonna do any damage, so full speed ahead, I say.


Well, I mean … coffee grounds, obviously. I have a fancy burr grinder that I love like it’s a shiny mechanical pet (it’s this Breville one, and it’s just ridiculously good, and I will never use a blade grinder again), which crushes my beans into a very fine [one step above espresso-level] and very consistently-sized grit. Also, last week’s experiment involved honey as a base, and that was pretty effective — it’s super thick and sticky, and it stays on your face pretty well (unless you apply too much and then get kinda hot and it drips onto your shirt, which you then have to change, once you figure out why your arm keeps sticking to it), and it’s great for your skin in its own right. So, honey again! Why not?

I’ll tell you why not. Because unlike the honey/brown sugar, this did not make a paste. It made a slurry. For effing serious, it’s like a sandy gravelly mud puddle and what the shit have I done wrong? I mean, I assumed using already-brewed coffee grounds would be preferable, as their water-logged state would render them softer and less potentially scrape-y? But APPARENTLY, this is TOO MUCH WATER, and thus I have a small bowl of unpleasant grit-slop. Which I just went ahead and smeared all over my face because we’ve come this far and I’m committed. (If you’re a supernerd like me, you might be wondering if this mixture resulted in a fun non-Newtonian fluid. It did not. It’s just grit-slop.)

Well that’s Halloween sorted.


It actually did do a thing! Okay first you should know that I left this ridiculous garbage on my face for like ten minutes, because I needed to A) clean up the mess I’d made so far and B) take photos once I realized it was hilarious. Also, I figured if there were actually any good stuff in the coffee grounds that could possibly absorb into my face and Do A Thing, it’d need to be on there a little while. So I wandered around the bathroom, shout-singing along with some Pixies (Trompe Le Monde, if you want to play along at home) (I WAS WEARIN’ EYELINER, SHE WAS WEARIN’ EYYYELINERRRR), making scary faces into my selfiecam, and positively reeking of wet arabica. BUT THEN, I scrubbed it around my face for about a minute or so. It was, predictably, gritty as hell — it felt roughly (heh) like the Acure Brightening Scrub, i.e. quite gritty indeed but not like it was scratching my face up.

And you know what? After rinsing, my skin felt damn smooth. Not only that, but it felt like I’d just applied a really nice and really light oil! WHAT? WEIRD. It was definitely the coffee, as I didn’t get this effect from honey/brown sugar — and though I would’ve thought that not a lot of oils remained in the grounds after brewing…maybe they do? With the vague expectation that this residual oil would be salubrious in some way, I did not wash it off, but proceeded onto my usual serum and crap. A light dusting of powder didn’t yield any notable flaky areas, but then there’s the residual oil coating, so that might be disguising weak results. But, again, my skin feels really nice — so nice that I don’t even mind that I can still smell my French-Roasted face two hours later.

Will I do this again? Maybe/probably? It likely won’t be a suuuuper regular thing just because of the gritty mess (presumably using dry/unbrewed coffee in a superfine espresso grind would yield an easier-to-use paste), and I still prefer the tiny aluminum microcrystals (as in Vasanti Brighten Up and others) for their ultra-effective buffing. But on the whole [bean] (lol), this seemed pretty effective and I’m enjoying smelling like a latte, so I’ll give it a B-.  (You were probably expecting a C for coffee, but I don’t want to get predictable.)


Honey + Coffee Grounds puddle free? grainy scrub B-
Honey + Brown Sugar blorp free? grainy scrub B, lol
Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating 3.4oz $26.00 grainy scrub D
Skin Inc Pure Revival Peel 2oz $55.00 pilling gel + B
Juara Radiance Enzyme Scrub 2.5oz $35.00 grainy scrub B-
Skin Food Pineapple Peeling Gel 3.4oz $10.00 pilling gel B-
Dermalogica Microfoliant 2.6oz $45.00 powder, salicylic B
Ren Flash Rinse 2.5oz $48.00 grainy, vit C C
Algenist Triple Action 2oz $58.00 grainy, glycolic C+
Vasanti Brighten Up! 4.2oz $34.00 grainy scrub A
Acure Brightening Facial Scrub 4oz $8.49 grainy scrub B-
It’s Skin Citron Peeling Gel 4oz $10.00 pilling gel A-