Shampoo containing caffeine is marketed and sold by several brands – including Alpecin, TruePure and Ultrax Labs – but is it really capable of reducing, or even reversing, hair loss?
In this article, we weigh up the evidence for and against the status of caffeine shampoo as a hair loss product.
We answer the following questions:
- Does caffeine shampoo actually work?
- Can it stop hair loss or support hair growth?
- Is it beneficial for the all-around health of your hair?
What is caffeine shampoo?
Caffeine shampoo has been sold since 2010 when Alpecin was marketed as a shampoo that helps to combat hair loss. Since then, other caffeine shampoo products – including UltraX Labs Hair Surge, PURA D’OR, TruePure and Terez&Honor – have come on to the market.
There are other ingredients besides caffeine in caffeine shampoo. These ingredients vary according to the brand and can include biotin, castor oil, zinc, DHT, sesame seeds and acacia.
What does caffeine shampoo do?
Much of the marketing behind caffeine shampoos is based on anecdotal, rather than scientific evidence. There isn’t a large body of research that backs caffeine shampoo as a solution for hair loss – many claims appear to be based on a single study carried out in 2007, which suggested that caffeine can block the effects of the DHT hormone which can cause hair loss.
There are claims that caffeine shampoo can:
- Slow hair loss – preventing the premature ageing of your hair, so that it doesn’t fall out as quickly
- Restore hair growth – it is claimed that using caffeine shampoo over time can result in a thicker head of hair where it has previously been thin
- Promote shinier-looking hair – there are suggestions that some brands of caffeine shampoo can promote hair that is shinier and softer; revitalising and transforming dull-looking hair
Does caffeine shampoo work?
Although there are a lot of claims, there hasn’t been any clinically viable evidence that caffeine shampoo works to help hair loss or hair growth over the long term.
A ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority in 2018 determined that Alpecin couldn’t advertise the ability to reduce hair loss, because there is not enough evidence to support the claim. The 2007 study referred to earlier in this article demonstrated that caffeine could cause hair follicle regrowth, but these tests used a Petri dish in a lab environment. There is insufficient evidence that caffeine can have the same effect with hair follicles on the scalp.
Does caffeine shampoo help hair growth?
There are mixed opinions on whether caffeine shampoo actually helps hair growth. For some people, it can be hard to trust brands which may appear to mislead customers on the fundamentals of what their product is meant to do.
It should be noted that there is evidence to suggest that caffeine is absorbed into the hair follicles when using caffeine shampoo. A 2014 experiment that used 1% caffeine shampoo on chest hairs found that caffeine could be absorbed via the hair follicles, and was detectable on the hair as little as five minutes after application. It should also be noted that the study did not use hair follicles on the scalp.
There are chemicals present in some caffeine shampoos that could be a cause for concern when experiencing hair loss. These include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which has been found to damage hair follicles when left in the hair after poor rinsing. The US’s National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation has found that SLS deposits can penetrate the scalp, corroding hair follicles.
Ultimately, there is minimal scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of caffeine shampoo in helping hair growth. As a result, at the time of writing caffeine shampoo is not typically recommended by doctors and dermatologists.
Is caffeine shampoo good for hair loss?
The consensus among experts seems to be that while caffeine shampoo may help hair loss, much more evidence is needed to back this claim. There is a lack of studies that prove the effectiveness of caffeine shampoo on the human scalp, rather than in a lab setting.
Dr Sharon Wong, a consultant dermatologist from London Bridge Hospital, said:
“Whilst the results from predominantly lab-based studies are encouraging, larger randomised, controlled clinical trials on actual patients are required to draw more definitive conclusions.”
She added that “[caffeine shampoo] is not likely to make a difference in more advanced stages of hair thinning”.
Caffeine shampoo benefits
So what are the benefits that caffeine shampoo brands claim the product can offer? Among the supposed benefits of caffeine shampoo are:
- Suppression of hair loss hormone – higher levels of and sensitivity to the DHT hormone is the reason why hair loss occurs in the majority of men and women. It is thought that caffeine may suppress the effects of DHT and potentially stimulate longer hair growth
- Strengthening hair – because caffeine contains antioxidants, some believe that it can benefit hair by repairing strands and preventing damage
Caffeine shampoo side effects
There are typically minimal side effects from caffeine shampoo, but if they do occur, you should stop using the product. Potential side effects of caffeine shampoo include:
- Hair discolouration
- Scalp skin irritation
- Poor effectiveness with prolonged use
Although caffeine shampoo can supposedly provide some benefits – such as aiding hair growth and improving hair health with antioxidants – there is insufficient evidence to back these claims. In this respect, caffeine shampoo can be seen as a fad when compared to hair loss products such as minoxidil and finasteride. These hair loss treatments have been proven to help combat hair loss; from halting hair recession to supporting regrowth.
Contact The Treatment Rooms London today
At The Treatment Rooms London, we offer a range of approved non-surgical hair loss treatments, including minoxidil and finasteride. We also provide surgical options such as FUT and FUE hair transplants.
Whichever hair loss treatment you choose, put yourself in the hands of experienced professionals who can create the best hair loss treatment plan for your needs. Book a consultation today by using our contact form or calling 020 8706 0076.