Most adults consume caffeine every day. This stimulant is in your morning coffee, your afternoon tea, and even your post-lunch chocolate bar. Caffeine energises you when you feel tired or drained — which is why so many of us crave a caffeine fix throughout the day.
But it’s not just our brains that benefit from a caffeine boost. Promising research suggests caffeine may also reduce hair loss and stimulate follicles to produce new hair [1, 2]. With many of these studies conducted in the lab, the question remains: Does caffeine shampoo work for people suffering from genetic hair loss? Furthermore, is it as simple as drinking more coffee, or do you need specialist products to see an impact?
In this guide to caffeine shampoo and hair loss, we’ve examined the results of 5 studies to establish that caffeinated hair products can actually reduce hair loss, making them an ideal solution for those seeking a natural remedy for hair loss symptoms. While many people turn to vitamins for hair growth, research suggests that caffeine shampoos are far more effective.
Additionally, this article will also find out how caffeine shampoos measure up to other hair loss treatments, and whether they are a suitable treatment for hair loss.
Caffeine shampoos are hair–cleansing products that contain the common chemical compound caffeine. In shampoos, it’s often present as a component of coffee bean extract. Caffeine shampoo reduces hair loss while keeping your hair clean and healthy. Caffeine penetrates the skin easily, so applying it directly to your scalp helps it reach the hair follicles .
Some of the best-known caffeine shampoo brands that target thinning hair are as follows:
It’s also possible to make your own caffeine shampoo using coffee and coconut oil, though it’s not clear if homemade solutions will have the same effect as commercial caffeine shampoos.
While caffeine shampoos are the most popular caffeinated hair products, there are also caffeine hair lotions available. Like hair masks, lotions are designed to be left on the scalp for a prolonged period, giving the scalp more time to absorb the caffeine. Caffeine shampoo, meanwhile, is usually only applied for a couple of minutes.
Leave-in caffeine treatments and lotions tend to see more impressive results, perhaps due to this difference in application time . So it’s worth considering which solution is best for you before you embark on a caffeine hair loss treatment.
Androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male-pattern baldness or female pattern baldness, is the primary cause of hair loss for people of all genders. It’s estimated that approximately 80% of men and 55% of women will experience pattern balding by the age of 80 [4, 5].
Pattern hair loss can have a serious impact on your quality of life. Women in particular have reported psychological problems associated with their hair loss, such as feelings of depression and anxiety. Some say it causes problems in their marriage and career . In response, many people turn to over-the-counter solutions like caffeinated shampoos to treat their thinning hair.
Lab studies reveal that caffeine shampoos, lotions, treatments, or hair products can be effective in reversing female or male pattern baldness . In fact, it has been found to have an effect comparable to medicated hair growth treatments like Minoxidil . Caffeine reduces hair loss in several ways :
Applying caffeinated solutions to your scalp may provide a viable, natural alternative to a hair transplant or other expensive hair loss treatments. However, most of the evidence examining the effects of caffeine on hair loss is based on highly controlled lab studies, rather than real-life patient analysis. So can these promising results help noticeably stop hair thinning in people?
We’ve analysed the results of 5 in vivo investigations into the effects of caffeine treatments on real hair loss patients — and it appears that they really can help reduce hair loss.
Three separate studies found that regular use of caffeine shampoo (at least 6 months) resulted in reduced hair loss in patients with androgenetic alopecia [2, 7, 8]. Hair shafts were stronger and thicker after 6 months of use. In a female-focused study, fewer hairs were lost in a hair pull test, suggesting hair follicles could retain hair more easily following caffeine shampoo treatment.
It’s not just patterned hair loss that caffeine shampoo may be effective for. Another study assessed the effects in women with telogen effluvium, a type of hair loss caused by trauma, stress, or emotional shock. Results for this hair loss type were similar: decreased hair shedding, with a substantial improvement in hair strength.
Other hair loss types, such as alopecia areata, haven’t been studied in relation to caffeine hair loss products. However, another investigation of patients with non-specific, self-perceived hair thinning found an increase in total hair count following caffeine shampoo treatment . (These results are complicated by the presence of multiple active components in the treatment, including niacinamide, panthenol, and zinc carbonate as well as caffeine.)
Nonetheless, these results are very promising for hair loss sufferers, particularly those in the early stages of hair loss. Hair loss prevention is often easier than hair loss reversal, so the earlier you address your loss of hair, the less likely you are to need an invasive intervention like a hair transplant.
Only one study has compared caffeinated hair loss products with other established hair loss treatments. Researchers compared the effects of a lotion containing caffeine with Minoxidil 5% application for patients experiencing pattern hair loss. They found that both treatments demonstrated similar effectiveness after 6 months of use :
While results are usually seen more quickly in those using Minoxidil hair restoration treatment (around 3-4 months), there are also more side effects to contend with. Some patients report scalp itchiness, headaches, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and weight gain [2, 10]. No safety concerns have been raised for caffeine shampoos, so patients looking for a hair loss solution should consider whether speed or lack of side effects are more important to them.
It should be noted that these studies are related to topical Minoxidil, which isn’t quite the same as Minoxidil shampoo.
Drugs like Finasteride and Dutasteride haven’t been tested against caffeine shampoo, so it’s not possible to tell how these solutions compare. Like Minoxidil, these treatments can take effect in as little as 3 months (see Minoxidil results). More aggressive or advanced hair loss should be treated as soon as possible, so it may be better for those in the latter stages of hair loss to try faster-acting solutions rather than caffeine shampoo.
Regardless of your hair loss stage or type, if you don’t see hair growth results after 6-9 months of using caffeine shampoo, you may want to seek an alternative treatment type, such as laser hair regrowth. Learn how a trichologist diagnoses and treats different types of hair loss.
Drinking coffee is unlikely to stimulate your hair follicles in the same way as topical caffeine application. However, there may be some hair-related benefits to having a daily cup of coffee, green tea, or black tea.
Oxidative stress can speed up the ageing process, leading to premature hair loss . As a rich source of antioxidants, coffee may help reduce oxidative stress, minimising the impact on your hair [12-13].
However, the benefits of caffeine shampoos and lotions far outweigh these effects. As well as reducing hair loss, they can:
Caffeine can also elongate the hair shaft, especially in women . That means it can literally make your hair longer. If you’ve had trouble growing your locks to the desired length, applying a caffeine hair treatment or product to your scalp may stimulate your hair follicles even if you’re not losing hair.
Caffeine shampoos for hair loss are normally safe and gentle on your hair, with minimal side effects . However, like any other skin or haircare product, there may be some minor side effects, particularly if used in excess. These include:
These side effects are far less problematic than those observed for other hair loss treatments. In rare cases, finasteride can cause erectile dysfunction, among other side effects. So if you’re looking for an effective hair loss treatment with milder side effects, you may want to try a caffeine shampoo or lotion.
Caffeine shampoos and lotions can significantly reduce hair loss — so they’re a great option for anyone looking for a natural hair loss solution. Thanks to the minimal side effects and proven efficacy, caffeine shampoo is definitely worth a try if you’re in the early stages of hair loss.
However, there may be circumstances in which caffeine shampoos aren’t right for you, such as:
It’s important to get a professional diagnosis if your hair is thinning or shedding. A trichologist can help you find the right female hair loss treatment or men’s hair loss treatment.
If any of these apply to you, talk to a hair loss specialist at the Wimpole Clinic to find the best solution to tackle your hair loss. Book a hair loss consultation now.
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