Scientists Pour Cold Water On Caffeine Shampoo Hair Loss Claims

General Hair Loss

Alpecin shampoo has hit extraordinary sales heights, small wonder given its former claim to promote hair loss. But does it really work? Some scientists seriously doubt it.


The Advance of Alepecin


Since arriving in the UK in 2009 Alpecin shampoo has extolled the virtues of caffeine to a generation of men (and women) suffering from hair loss. Most readers of this site will be aware that hair loss affects up to 50% of all men by the age of 35 and pretty much all them at some stage in their lives. So it is fair to say their potential market is huge. Even so, the fact that they have now hit sales of over a million bottles a year suggests they are doing something right. Could it really be that they are saving a generation of users from the ravages of male pattern baldness?

Three years ago the firm were reprimanded for running an advert asserting their product “promoted hair growth” so you might expect that these claims were a thing of the past. A quick trip to the website of the UK’s leading chemist will quickly put you straight on that  – Their current page offering Alpecin will tell you it can reduce hair loss and strengthen weakened hair roots… separately in the same list of bullet points it also claims to prevent hair loss – A much bolder claim than the one that only offers to reduce hair loss.

An Expert Opinion


It makes sense, when examining any claim for a hair loss product, to listen to those who make it their business to understand these things. The last 10 years have seen staggering advances in our understanding of the processes involved in growing hair. As a direct consequence there are new treatments being spawned by the latest technologies that offer genuine hope for the future… though we are talking years or decades rather than weeks or months.

UK newspaper, The Express, spoke to Dr Martin Wade who was extremely dubious about the claims for Alpecin. “The problem with shampoo is there is a short contact time with the affected area, which is a limiting factor in its effectiveness. Tests have shown that caffeine in a lab can cause stimulation of the hair follicles, but we are not sure if this translates to the human head”.

Cosmetic scientist, Colin Sanders, in the same article went even further. “The only way to prove that caffeine does what they claim is to do a double blind clinical trial. Currently there is no published trial – and I would assume Alpecin haven’t done one, as if they had I imagine they would be shouting it from the rooftops.”  Which strikes us as a salient point, and one with a possible flipside… is it possible that Alpecin have in fact done this trial and chosen not to reveal the results? The implication could be that they have so far been unable to reproduce those lab results on mice in the real world on humans. Though we do like the idea of scientists methodically shampooing some very pampered mice.

HIS Hair Clinic


Better than most we understand the attraction of switching shampoo to one that might improve our chances of hanging on to our hair. Maybe one day it really will be that simple. But not just yet we think.

Your best bet when noticing your hair loss for the first time is to make your way to your doctor, or a trichologist. If the diagnosis is male pattern baldness then there are options, plenty of them. Beyond shampoo. To find out the best course of action in your personal situation simply click here to find your nearest HIS Hair clinic, where one of our friendly practitioners will take you through everything at a free consultation.


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