The Independent Pharmacy

What Is Caffeine Shampoo And Does It Work For Hair Loss?

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 17 Oct 2023

Experiencing hair loss can feel stressful and may shake one’s confidence. It’s a journey many find themselves on, and you’re certainly not alone in this. Statistics show that roughly 70% of men and 50% of women suffer from hair loss.

When you explore your options to tackle hair loss, you might see treatments like Regaine, hair transplants, and low-level laser devices. But at the Independent Pharmacy, we understand that they can be expensive, come with side effects, or simply fail to work for many people. Given the circumstances, it’s natural to seek alternative solutions that might offer hope and efficacy.

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One of the options increasing in popularity is caffeine shampoo. While there isn’t much research specifically on caffeine shampoos, some studies suggest that caffeine could be a worthy ally on your hair growth journey.

Does caffeine shampoo sound like something you might be interested in?

Here’s all you need to know about caffeine shampoo and its effectiveness for hair loss.

What Is Caffeine Shampoo?

Caffeine shampoo is a hair care product containing caffeine as an active ingredient. It’s just like a regular shampoo. It uses a base of cleaning agents like sodium laureth sulfate to cleanse the scalp and hair. However, the added caffeine provides potential hair benefits.

Caffeine is a stimulant most commonly found in coffee, tea, and cocoa plants. It is added to shampoos as caffeine extracts from coffee beans or synthetic caffeine. The caffeine molecules can bind to hair follicles and absorb into the scalp.

How Does Caffeine Shampoo Work?

The caffeine in shampoos aims to stimulate hair growth in several ways:

  • It blocks the effects of a hormone called DHT, which is linked to common types of hair loss. This helps unclog hair follicles and encourage growth.
  • It improves blood circulation in the scalp. Better blood flow provides more nutrients to the hair follicles.
  • It causes the blood vessels in the scalp to tighten, a process known as vasoconstriction. This prolongs the growth phase of hair.
  • It blocks chemical imbalances that lead to loss of hair colour. This helps retain a rich colour.
  • It has anti-inflammatory effects that create a healthy scalp environment ideal for hair growth.

In essence, it energises and revitalises hair follicles, countering the mechanisms that cause excessive hair loss.

Effectiveness of Caffeine Shampoo for Hair Loss

What Does Science Say About Caffeine?

Research analysing the effects of caffeine on hair follicles provides promising early evidence for its efficacy as a treatment for hair loss.

A 2007 laboratory study (conducted in a controlled environment outside of a living organism) published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that applying a caffeine solution to human hair follicles stimulated hair shaft elongation by 46% compared to control groups. The growth phase of hair, known as the anagen phase, was also extended, suggesting caffeine could help fight the shrinking of hair follicles seen in common hair loss.

Additional insights come from a 2007 study in the Skin Pharmacology and Physiology journal, which found that caffeine penetrates the scalp and acts on hair follicles by inhibiting the hormone linked to hereditary hair loss. Based on this, researchers suggested caffeine could be an effective supplemental treatment.

It’s important to note that larger scale human trials are still needed to affirm the potential benefits of caffeine, and we hope for more clarity in the near future. Many studies so far have been in vitro, using isolated cell cultures rather than live subjects. Optimal caffeine concentration and delivery methods also require further research through robust clinical trials.

Comparison With Other Hair Loss Treatments

While not as potent as actual hair loss medication, caffeine shampoos have several advantages:

  • They are far more affordable, with name brands like Alpecin costing between £32.34 and £45.54 for a 6-month supply, compared to hundreds for prescription treatments.
  • Being available over-the-counter, caffeine shampoos can be easily incorporated into a regular hair care routine without needing to see a doctor.
  • They do not appear to carry side effects like sexual dysfunction, dizziness or headaches that are associated with some medications like finasteride or minoxidil.

It’s worth noting that caffeine shampoos might not yield significant results for everyone, especially for those with advanced stage hereditary hair loss, which can be disheartening. They are likely most effective for early stage diffuse thinning. For optimal results, they can be combined with other treatments like PRP injections, laser devices or medications. Consulting a hair restoration specialist is recommended, especially for advanced cases.

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How to Use Caffeine Shampoo for Optimal Results

To properly apply caffeine shampoo for best results:

  • Wet your hair thoroughly with warm water before applying the shampoo. This helps open up follicles for better absorption.
  • Use a quarter-sized amount and gently massage it into your scalp for 1-2 minutes, focusing on thinning areas. This increases blood flow to follicles.
  • Lather the rest of your hair, then let the shampoo sit for the recommended time before rinsing - usually 2-5 minutes but up to 10 minutes for some products. This gives the caffeine sufficient time to penetrate the scalp.
  • Rinse with cool water to seal in moisture. Make sure to fully rinse out all shampoo to prevent buildup.
  • Limit use to 3-5 times per week if you have a dry or sensitive scalp. For optimal hair growth results, aim to use a caffeine shampoo daily.
  • Apply conditioner focused on the ends after shampooing, avoiding the scalp, to prevent interfering with absorption.

Consistency is key. It can take 3-6 months of continued use before noticeable improvements in hair density and growth from caffeine shampoos.

Combining with Other Treatments

To boost the effects of caffeine shampoo:

  • Take hair-strengthening supplements like biotin, Viviscal, omega fatty acids, or collagen peptides to nourish hair from within.
  • Use minoxidil solution in tandem to stimulate growth. One study found using both minoxidil and caffeine shampoo increased hair count more than minoxidil alone.
  • Try derma rolling before shampooing to create tiny punctures that help caffeine penetrate deeper into the scalp.

Discuss supplements and combination treatments with your healthcare provider first, especially if taking other medications.

Possible Side Effects

When used properly, caffeine shampoo is very safe for most people. However, potential side effects include:

  • Mild scalp irritation, dryness or flaking if the concentration of caffeine is too potent for your skin type. Adjusting the frequency of use can help.
  • Rare allergic reactions like swelling, itching or rash. Discontinue use if any concerning reactions develop.
  • Increased heart rate, “jittery” feeling or anxiety if large amounts of caffeine are absorbed systemically, although this is very uncommon when you use the product properly.

As with any new product, do a patch test before regular use and monitor for any unusual reactions. Consult a dermatologist if side effects persist.

Purchasing Caffeine Shampoo

At the Independent Pharmacy, we offer two excellent caffeine shampoo options:

Once you choose the right shampoo for you, you can rely on our fast delivery, competitive pricing, and exceptional customer service. Our team of UK-registered pharmacists is also available for guidance.

What to Look for When Selecting a Product

When evaluating caffeine shampoos, look for:

  • A caffeine concentration of at least 0.2%, but ideally 1% or greater. This optimises the stimulation of hair follicles.
  • Natural caffeine sources like coffee bean extract rather than synthetic caffeine. Some find this gentler.
  • A shampoo pH between 4.5-5.5, which won’t disrupt the scalp’s natural barrier. Alkaline formulas around 10 can damage hair.
  • A reputable brand with consistently positive independent reviews. Alpecin, Ultrax Labs, PURA D’OR and NxN are well-regarded.
  • Clinical studies supporting the efficacy and safety of the specific formulation.
  • Gentle scalp cleansing agents like coco-betaine instead of sulfates which can cause dryness if used daily.
  • No harsh chemicals, parabens, silicone or artificial fragrances which may irritate the scalp.

Checking for these factors helps find effective, high-quality caffeine shampoos suited for your individual needs and hair type.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is caffeine shampoo good for hair loss?

Early research suggests caffeine shampoo may help stimulate hair growth and reduce shedding, making it a potentially useful supplement to hair loss treatments. However, larger scale studies are still needed.

Can caffeine shampoo cause hair growth?

Caffeine shampoos aim to extend the active growth phase of hair follicles. They are likely most effective for early stages of thinning spread out across the scalp rather than reversing advanced baldness.

Does Alpecin really work?

Multiple studies demonstrate Alpecin shampoos containing caffeine can decrease hair loss and improve growth when used over 3-6 months. However, individual results can vary depending on hair type and extent of loss.

Which Alpecin shampoo is best for hair loss?

Alpecin Caffeine shampoo and Alpecin Double Effect shampoo are both formulated to combat thinning hair. Those with colour-treated hair may prefer the Double Effect version, which helps retain pigment.

Does caffeine shampoo get into your blood?

Very little caffeine is absorbed into the body as a whole when used on the scalp. You are unlikely to feel any stimulant effects from properly rinsing out caffeine shampoo after the recommended time.

Does caffeine shampoo dye hair?

Caffeine shampoos will not artificially dye or colour your hair. However, by blocking DHT effects, caffeine may help retain your natural pigment and reduce greying.

Conclusion

Caffeine shampoos emerge as a gentle, affordable option in the early stages of hair thinning, offering a glimmer of hope and a potential path towards fuller, healthier hair.

While current evidence is promising, larger scale human trials are still needed to fully confirm efficacy, optimal formulations, and delivery methods. Caffeine shampoos appear most effective for early-stage thinning and may not completely reverse advanced pattern baldness.

For those seeking natural, non-invasive solutions for hair loss, caffeine shampoos like Alpecin Caffeine and Alpecin Double Effect from the Independent Pharmacy provide accessible options backed by studies. Used properly and consistently over 3-6 months, they can aid fuller, healthier hair growth.

Exploring these caffeine-based shampoos under guidance from your healthcare provider may provide noticeable improvements when combined with other lifestyle approaches to counteracting hair loss.

Sources:

Quality of Life Assessment in Patients with Androgenetic Alopecia - PMC (nih.gov)

Caffeine and Its Pharmacological Benefits in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia: A Review | Skin Pharmacology and Physiology | Karger Publishers

Caffeine - drugscience.org.uk

Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro - Fischer - 2007 - International Journal of Dermatology - Wiley Online Library

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