Question: Have you any views on Alpecin Hair Shampoo which is being advertised heavily in the London press?
Answer: Alpecin’s ‘After Shampoo Liquid’ contains caffeine and is said to tackle genetic hair loss. The manufacturers of Alpecin base these claims on studies undertaken by the University of Jena which showed that caffeine stimulates weakened hair roots. The study, carried out in January 2007, involved hair follicles being removed from balding men and artificially grown in a laboratory. The follicles were then all exposed to testosterone and some were also exposed to caffeine. The follicles that were exposed to testosterone showed reduced growth (as occurs in Male Pattern Hair Loss) while the follicles that were exposed to testosterone and caffeine seemed to be less affected by the testosterone and also stimulated new growth.
While these results seem to suggest that caffeine prevents the negative effects of testosterone and is a cure for genetic hair loss, there is always the question of how successful it is when applied outside of a laboratory, directly onto the human scalp.
Alpecin claims to have conducted its own research on its products – these show positive results but on only very small numbers. Indeed, before a conclusive answer can be given on caffeine’s effectiveness as a hair loss treatment, much more research needs to be carried out on a much larger scale. This type of research involves large-scale clinical trials in order to accurately understand the effects of caffeine on the human scalp, how much needs to be absorbed to prevent hair loss and how much caffeine can be safely absorbed by the human body.
After consideration, the Belgravia medical team don’t deem it realistic that enough caffeine would be absorbed by the scalp from a shampoo to effectively assist in the prevention of hair loss, even if caffeine was found to be an effective hair loss preventative in laboratory conditions. As shampoo is diluted by water and only applied for a short period of time before being washed off, minimal quantities will be absorbed into the scalp, if any.
The Daily Mail recently published ratings of 8 hair loss products, Alpecin being one of them. You can view the results here – Daily Mail Hair Loss Ratings.
Belgravia has recently introduced an extra strength minoxidil 8% liquid to its treatment range, containing caffeine as a hair growth booster. Because of the absorption properties of the ingredients in our minoxidil liquid solution, traces of caffeine will reach the hair follicles with the aim of helping prevent DHT from inhibiting hair growth.
Currently, there are only two hair loss treatments that have been licensed in the UK and US by the government medical regulatory bodies, you can find further information on these treatments, which are the only ones that have shown sufficient evidence that they are effective for hair loss prevention, here.
*Last updated on 8th April 2010*