Caffeine-Infused Nail Polish Doesn't Work the Way You Think
Earlier this week, Nails Inc. launched Caffeine Hit, a line of coffee-inspired nail polishes that's perfect for caffeine fiends and manicure enthusiasts alike. The lacquers have cute names like "Rise & Grind," which is a glittery gold, and "Espresso Martini," a deep, dark brown. But Nails Inc. took the inspiration from everyone's favorite caffeinated beverage one step further and made Caffeine Hit "the world's first nail polish range infused with caffeine to keep you buzzing all day," according to a post on their website.
Yes, the nail polish is supposedly infused with caffeine, and not only does Nails Inc. claim that the caffeine from the nail polish can get you "buzzing," the London-based company also says that this caffeine-infused nail polish can "help stimulate regeneration for healthy, strong nails." It's a claim they repeat on their Instagram posts promoting the polish, writing in a caption that the dose of caffeine will help "stimulate regeneration for healthy, strong nails."
Now, I'm here for an extra hit of caffeine wherever I can find it, but I was skeptical about this polish. Even though caffeine is a fairly common ingredient in skincare, used to calm puffy, red skin, it has to be applied regularly to have any effect. For instance, caffeine is a commonly found ingredient in anti-cellulite creams, and though these caffeinated lotions can be effective, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, they have to be applied daily in order to see any results. These caffeinated creams also don't actually get rid of or eliminate any cellulite, just minimize its appearance. It's a cosmetic, temporary change, only good for as long as you use the product with caffeine, not a change to your body chemistry or the way it works.
This is why the idea of a caffeine-infused nail polish that can get you buzzing, make your nails grow stronger, and look chic AF seemed too good to be true. And—surprise!—the science to back up this claim is minimal. As Dr. Shari Lipner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weil Cornell Medicine, explained to me in an email, applying caffeine to your nails topically is "unlikely to have a beneficial effect on nail growth or nail health." Though caffeine can penetrate nail clippings in the laboratory, "We do not know, however, whether it can penetrate a real person's nails," and if the caffeine couldn't penetrate the nail, there's no way it could affect the way the nail grows. But Dr. Lipner added, "Even it did penetrate a real person's nails, it is unlikely that it would be absorbed or help nail growth." In other words, caffeine-infused nail polish probably won't make your nails grow stronger, even if it does look good.
I reached out to Nails Inc. to see if they could explain the science behind the caffeine-infused nail polish and did not hear back before publication. But long nail story short? Buy caffeine-infused nail polish because you like the color, not for the "strengthening" benefits, and just drink another cup of coffee if you want to get a buzz.