The Caffeinated Shower Approach


There was a time when I wasn’t making much money, and my partner picked up much of the living expense. It doesn’t feel good to be a household burden, so I developed this fantasy of costing almost nothing to maintain. I looked for ways I could have the smallest financial footprint on the household. My herb garden was a total bust, so I switched tack to repurposing household waste. Here's one you may have heard before: used coffee grounds.

Besides being nubby and grainy (thereby pretty much perfectly suited to the task of in-shower exfoliation), they’ve also retained whatever caffeine I failed to initially wring out of them, imparting their wakeful properties into my skin. And after all, caffeine is one of the main ingredients in all those cellulite ���busting' products. No need to spend more if you're a regular user of a French press.

And while you're scrubbing down your body, let those grounds find their way up to your scalp. Not only will you get a helluva scalp scrub, but, if you're brunette (as I am [again]), you'll also get a wash of deep-chocolate tone with a high-gloss finish. Mix some grounds in with conditioner, and you've got a bonafide treatment on your hands (or, er, in your hair). Then, while you’re waiting for that to work its magic, rub your body down with coffee grounds until you look like you’re a gummy worm that emerged from a giant Dirt Cup dessert. Rinse well (as in, thoroughly and twice) lest your hair reek of that stale, bitter coffee aroma that would seep into your sweaters back in the days you spent “studying' all day at coffee shops.

Although, a caveat: After I went through a few showers like this, the drain clogged completely. I had the singular and rare pleasure of seeing a look of genuine surprise on the face of my building’s maintenance man (and those are the hardest people in the world to surprise). I think he thought I was making coffee in the shower. Unless you’re looking to surprise a maintenance man of your own, I suggest a drain filter (or maybe a coffee filter?). In fact, I’ve heard of people hosing themselves down in the yard post-coffee-treatment to save the drain and help fertilize the grass. If that sounds fun to you, go for it. If you can find a way to keep them out of your drain, you’ve got a DIY beauty treatment that wakes up your whole body and glosses up your hair.

And, unlike keeping me alive, coffee grounds are free, even in bulk—if you don’t drink coffee (hey, there, Puritans!), you could always just swing by a coffee shop. Those guys are happy to give away bagfuls of the stuff. I found this out when I was trying to to dye my jeans with coffee, which I can’t recommended as highly, by the way. I suppose I finally ran up against the limits of what used coffee grounds can do.

—Trace Barnhill

Photographed by Tom Newton.