Caffeine shampoos are one of the most popular hair loss treatments on the market today. But one important question remains unanswered: do they actually work? In this article, we evaluate the clinically viable evidence to see if caffeine shampoo does noticeably stop hair thinning.
What Is Caffeine Shampoo?
Caffeine shampoo is a hair loss treatment that looks to stimulate hair growth using caffeine extract. Whilst there is no definitive evidence that shows that caffeine works to increase hair growth, it remains one of the most popular hair loss treatments freely available today.
Caffeine shampoos are freely available over the counter of most supermarkets and pharmacies. You do not need a prescription to have access to them.
How Does Caffeine Shampoo Work?
Caffeine shampoo is designed to stimulate hair growth by using caffeine extract. Caffeine supposedly helps promote hair growth by targeting the hormone DHT. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the hormone responsible for hair loss. For more information, see our “What is DHT” page.
However, there is no evidence that caffeine shampoo blocks DHT. If you’re interested in slowing down the effects of DHT related hair loss, we recommend other (clinically supported) DHT blocking medications such as dutasteride or finasteride for hair loss.
Whilst it is not entirely clear whether caffeine shampoo does indeed block DHT, it is certainly the case that a high quality shampoo massaged into the head can increase blood circulation, as well as cleaning the scalp. Although, this will not prevent hair loss.
How Expensive is Caffeine Shampoo?
The answer to this question does depend upon how you look at it. The typical yearly cost for caffeine shampoos is between £70 and £80 per year, making it a reasonable cheap hair loss treatment.
Caffeine shampoo is more expensive than other shampoos on the market today. Cheap shampoos often contain chemicals that strip the natural oils for your hair follicles, making caffeine shampoo a great option if you’re wanting to take better care of your hair follicles and scalp.
Caffeine shampoo is in a similar price bracket to other medications, such as: minoxidil, finasteride, and dutasteride for hair loss. Whilst slightly cheaper than these alternatives, it is also important to consider that caffeine shampoo has the least amount of clinical evidence supporting it when compared to other similarly priced treatments.
When compared to other hair loss treatments, for instance a PRP hair treatment (£395 per session) or an FUE hair transplant (from £4,000), caffeine shampoos do seem like an incredibly low cost alternative to hair transplant. However, caffeine shampoos will not reverse the effects of hair loss, or enable new hair growth in a previously bald area.
Does Caffeine Shampoo Work For Hair Loss?
In short, the answer is no. There is no scientific evidence or research that directly shows that by using caffeine shampoo, you can reduce and/or help stop your symptoms of hair loss, thinning hair, or male pattern baldness. Also, the medical community does not endorse caffeine-based shampoos for the treatment of hair loss.
The closest, and perhaps most relevant evidence, was a 2007 study by the International Journal of Dermatology (Fischer et. al). Results showed hair follicles to grow with the help of caffeine in a petri dish. However, it is important to consider that this is not enough evidence to show caffeine shampoo to prevent hair loss.
Whilst caffeine shampoo will not reduce hair loss, it can stimulate some growth of the hair follicles. In a 2014 study conducted by the British Journal of Dermatology (Fischer et. al), results did show caffeine to promote growth in the hair follicle. Again, this is not enough evidence to suggest caffeine shampoo works in preventing hair loss.
Will Caffeine Shampoo Cure My Male Pattern Baldness?
Unfortunately, no. Caffeine shampoo will likely not work for hair loss conditions like male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). Caffeine shampoos are more than likely a mild stimulant that may help benefit hair growth.
More controlled clinical trials need to be conducted that show how caffeine shampoos (such as alpecin shampoo) can be used to prevent hair loss from occuring.