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the science

barista bath and body – b3 – products are formulated with organic coffee, coffee extract, essential oils and herbal extracts to maximize the therapeutic benefits of coffee. In recent years, coffee has re-emerged as a natural restorative exhibiting numerous advantageous properties. Published studies have documented the benefits of topical application of coffee and its major constituent, caffeine.

To understand why b3 chose coffee as the key ingredient in our formulations, it is important to understand how pH levels affect your body, the complex structure of the hair and the skin’s natural defense system. 

pH balance

pH (potential of Hydrogen) measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. A balanced pH is critical to maintaining healthy hair and skin. Hair and skin is slightly acidic in nature, with a pH of 4.5 to 5. Coffee also has a pH of 4.5 to 5. A high pH causes hair cuticle cells to swell and become rough and contributes to residue retention. Soap and water (pH of 12) strips away the body's natural defense system.


Hair is made up of complex proteins that originate in the hair follicle. Each individual strand of hair is composed of three distinct layers: The cuticle, a shingle-like layer of over-lapping cells, acts as a protective barrier for the softer inner structures and is said to be water resistant. When the cuticle is damaged, the hair appears dull, tangles easily, and has a rough texture. The cortex, a spiral structure beneath the cuticle, makes the hair extremely strong and gives it elasticity. The cortex also holds the hair’s water content. The medullary canal is a hollow or partially hollow shaft which appears in some hair strands; its presence or absence can alter the way in which the hair interacts with light. Hair products with a high pH cause the cuticle cells of the hair to swell and become rough. Residue is a major factor with hair products that have an unbalanced pH.


Skin is the largest organ of the body. The outer layer, epidermis, protects the body from external factors such as bacteria and chemical contaminants. Our skin’s first line of defense is called the acid mantle, a thin oily film that sits on top of the epidermis. The pH of the acid mantle is about 4.5 to 5.5. Our slightly acidic skin helps to fight off harmful bacteria. Many of the contaminants that might enter our skin are alkaline in nature (pH greater than 7). The skin’s natural acidity neutralizes these chemicals and bacteria. Beneath the epidermis is the dermis composed mainly of collagen and elastin which gives our skin its strength and elasticity. Retaining moisture in the dermis is an important factor in smooth, soft skin. Soap and water used by many to routinely cleanse the skin (pH of 12) neutralizes the skin’s natural acidity stripping away the body’s natural defense system.

the raw truth

Our formulations do not contain endocrine disrupting or mutagenic agents - they are paraben-free, phthalate-free and sulfate-free. We use natural preservatives (e.g. citric acid) instead of parabens and have replaced sulfates with natural salts to provide a rich lather. Our formulations use pure essential oils for fragrance rather than phthalates.

Applying caffeine to your body through a shampoo is a highly effective treatment of premature hair loss – Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (3/07)

Caffeine assists in lowering the risk of skin cancer
– Dr. Allan Conney, professor of cancer and leukemia research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, The Associated Press (08/02)

Creams containing caffeine help reduce the appearance of cellulite when applied to the skin
– Mitchel Goldman, La Jolla Spa medical director, CNN (10/06)

Coffee is a major contributor of antioxidants
– Rune Blomnhoff, professor of nutrition at the University of Oslo (The New York Times, 08/06)

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Photography by diana sell photography