Man for Himself

Does Caffeine Shampoo Work?

Does caffeine shampoo really work? Or is it just another marketing ploy – targeting men who are balding or have thinning hair?


Will a caffeine shampoo restore your head of hair to its former glory?

There is sublime genius in finding ways to use inferior grades of coffee that can’t be sold for human consumption. A good marketing campaign featuring a so-called expert wearing a white coat can sell anything to a man whose self-esteem is going down the plug hole… along with his hair.

There’s a German product called Alpecin, an ‘After Shampoo Liquid’. Alpecin claims to grow hair back as a result of its caffeine content.

Its manufacturers have commissioned research and – unsurprisingly – found it to produce positive results for hair growth. Unfortunately, these results came about by detaching hair follicles from balding men and growing them artificially in a laboratory.

The follicles were exposed to a dose of testosterone and some were exposed to caffeine. There was reduced growth in the testosterone-dosed follicles, which is what happens in male pattern baldness. Meanwhile, in the ones that were exposed to testosterone and caffeine, some new growth was stimulated.

It should, however, be noted that growing hair follicles in a test tube or petrie dish is not a reliable indicator of how well this can work on a man’s head.


Does caffeine help or hinder hair health?

Interestingly, the caffeine we consume orally could have a role to play in hair growth. As a chemical, caffeine targets the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) which is the culprit in hair loss.  DHT clings on to hair follicles and stops them from absorbing the important proteins, minerals and vitamins that perpetuate the hair’s growth cycle. Caffeine can keep DHT from attaching itself, thereby allowing the growth cycle to continue.

You probably consume caffeine in a myriad of ways; through chocolate, energy drinks, colas and of course, coffee and tea. Several studies have been carried out on the effects of caffeine and hair loss and they’ve unanimously shown that caffeine doesn’t contribute to baldness or hair loss. If anything, caffeine can be a friend to the balding man. Just don’t count on it to perform miracles!

Signs going bald head

The reviews: What do users of caffeine shampoos have to say?

Look around on the internet and you’ll be sure to find plenty of men singing the praises of caffeine shampoo, insisting it’s been the magical cure to their male pattern baldness.

The thing about reviews sites is that they don’t come with proof of veracity. Many times, they’re fake; fabricated reviews posted by representatives of the manufacturers to promote their products, and no one is keeping watch on who’s telling lies or the truth. Others aren’t true representations of factual outcomes. If a man looks in the mirror and sees a miserable hairline one day and after using a caffeine shampoo for a month or so, looks in the mirror again and sees thicker hair, would you call that scientific proof?

More often, perceived results are the result of the placebo effect. People often feel better because they’re doing something … anything. And if the outcome is that they feel better, then that must be a good thing in itself. That said, if they want 100 per cent, irrefutable facts such as a hair count per square inch, then they may just be disappointed.

Consider also that if the guy is experiencing intermittent hair loss, and not classic male pattern baldness, then his use of a caffeine shampoo could actually coincide with his hair growth cycle  rather than the shampoo being a miracle cure.

On the other hand, when people are moved to post a negative review, you can pretty much count on the graphic detail being a result of personal experience. Reports of burning scalps, skin redness, pain and discomfort can likely be counted on as truth because the men who post them usually don’t have a vested interest in the product’s success or failure. If anything, they’ll want to warn other consumers away from them.



Caffeine shampoo: The bitter aftertaste

No clinically viable evidence currently exists to prove that caffeine shampoos work. In the UK, only two treatments have been clinically proven to grow hair back. They are Finasteride (a prescription pill) and Minoxidil (available as a lotion or foam that you apply to your scalp).

Don’t go investing in coffee stocks… counting on a caffeinated miracle cure for your baldness! Save your pennies and buy your daily cappuccino so you can enjoy drinking your caffeine the way nature intended. You never know, that coffee could actually go to your head.


Guest editorial by Spencer “Spex” Stevenson.  For further insight into proven hair loss treatments visit Spex’s site at