If you have been struggling with hair loss, the chances are you have spent time looking for ways to help alleviate it. Caffeine shampoo has become increasingly popular over the past few years, claiming that it can slow down hair loss and promote the growth of new hair – and usually comes with a price tag to match its claims. But is caffeine shampoo really the secret to a full head of hair?
What is caffeine shampoo?
As the name suggests, caffeine shampoo uses caffeine extract, due to its mild stimulating effects.
The most well-known caffeine shampoo is Alpecin, a German brand that was first introduced in 1905, that promises to penetrate the scalp and re-invigorate the hair.
Does caffeine shampoo work?
There is currently no clinical evidence to suggest that caffeine shampoo works to prevent hair loss. In fact, in 2018, Alpecin was informed by the Advertising Standards Authority that it was no longer permitted to claim that it can ‘help to reduce hair loss’, due to a lack of evidence.
Some brands – including Alpecin – have claimed to have had positive results for hair growth based on previous studies. However, these studies showed the effects of caffeine on hair follicles that were tested in a petri dish, which is not a reliable indicator of how caffeine shampoo would work on the scalp.
A quick search may yield hundreds or thousands of five-star reviews for caffeine shampoos but remember that these may be fake reviews – or they could be the result of a placebo effect, with users thinking that their hair is looking thicker after using the shampoo. Either way, anecdotal evidence is not the same as scientific evidence.
As caffeine is a mild stimulant, it may increase blood circulation in the scalp, but used alone will not noticeably stop hair thinning and shedding – particularly when considering that shampoo is only applied for a matter of seconds before being washed away.
Of course, there is no harm to using caffeine shampoo, but it is unlikely to produce the results that you are hoping for. Despite it being suggested that these shampoos can help with male pattern baldness, which occurs when the hormone DHT shrinks and weakens the hair follicles, there is no evidence that caffeine shampoo can negate the effects of DHT.
The only topical hair loss product that has been proven to arrest hair loss is Minoxidil (Rogaine), which is applied directly to the scalp to prevent further shedding.