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Does Alpecin Work?
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on September 2, 2022

The most common type of hair loss in men is male pattern baldness. Affecting over 6.5 million men in the UK, it’s not surprising many men are searching for a cure. Alpecin shampoo is one of the most famous caffeine shampoos on the market, with a wealth of anecdotal evidence, and scientific studies primarily commissioned by Alpecin themselves. Established in 1905, their caffeine shampoo claims to offer a miracle cure for hair loss and baldness. So does Alpecin work for hair loss caused by androgenetic alopecia?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how Alpecin works and whether it really is effective in treating male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness, which affects about 50% of women by the time they’re 80.

How does Alpecin shampoo work?

Alpecin’s ‘C1’ shampoo has a high caffeine content, which is credited with stimulating hair follicles and counteracting the effects of testosterone. Testosterone can cause the formation of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a sex hormone that has been linked to hair density loss and early hair regression [1].

Losing hair in your mid 20s? Find out what might be the cause.

Alpecin also claims to strengthen existing hair. The company states that by using a lack of conditioning agents, hair becomes less prone to breakage and falling out, and easier to style. By including zinc and niacin in their formula, Alpecin say their shampoo further boosts hair growth. However, like taking vitamins for hair growth is dependent on a deficiency being present in the first place, zinc may only help with hair growth for those suffering from dandruff [2].

How to use Alpecin

Apply Alpecin’s C1 shampoo to your scalp in the shower. Then wait two minutes for the caffeine to penetrate your scalp. Their website advises that you can leave the shampoo on for up to half an hour, as the caffeine absorption increases. If you have a sensitive or itchy scalp, leaving Alpecin on for longer than two minutes can cause irritation, so it’s best avoided.

Does Alpecin work? Research & clinical evidence

Alpecin has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority from making the claim that its shampoo “helps hair loss”, as they deemed the clinical evidence as ‘not adequate’. There are plenty of studies on Alpecin’s website showing successful regrowth in hair follicles as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia [3].

Alpecin’s study was conducted using extracted hair follicles, and performed in vitro (meaning outside of the body). This means the results of their research can’t necessarily be applied to real-world hair loss, as how follicles react on your head is very different to how they react in a Petri dish.

But while Alpecin may not be proven to improve hair loss in real-life patients, there is evidence to support the effectiveness of other caffeinated shampoos. In one independent study, subjects used Plantur shampoo over a 6 month period. Each patient leftthe shampoo on for the required two minute period. This study was restricted to female sufferers of androgenetic alopecia. The results? They may surprise you.

Participants saw a significant improvement in hair strength and hair loss intensity after 6 months of consistent use [4]. Another study has shown that men can also benefit from using caffeine shampoo for hair loss [5]. So there are a host of benefits to using caffeinated shampoo, including reduced hair loss, and stronger and thicker hair shafts.

So, should you go out and purchase a bottle of Alpecin from your nearest Boots or Superdrug? While few real-life studies have shown its efficacy, the evidence for other caffeine shampoos is promising for hair loss sufferers. So let’s take a look at the side effects of long-term use.

Side effects of Alpecin shampoo

There is anecdotal evidence that Alpecin can cause more hair to fall out. Some reviewers online also claim that their alopecia areata was made worse by their C1 shampoo. As Alpecin doesn’t contain conditioning agents, the shampoo can cause extreme dryness, which eventually leads to hair breaking off. Scalp irritation and reduced efficacy are other possible side effects.

Also, long-term use of Alpecin can cause discolouration of the hair, especially if your hair is dyed. It can cause lighter hair colours to go browner over time. This applies to all caffeine shampoos, so they’re best avoided if you have coloured hair.

Other hair loss and hair thinning treatments

Worried about hair thinning? Caffeine shampoos like Alpecin aren’t always the best way to counteract hair loss, especially if you have coloured hair or a sensitive scalp.

If your hair loss is more severe, consider an alternative hair loss treatment like Minoxidil or Finasteride. These solutions are proven to be effective for people experiencing pattern baldness.

Hair transplants are the best way to restore lost hair. Considering a hair transplant? Take a look at our before and after hair transplant gallery — we’ve helped over 10,000 patients restore their hair and self-confidence. You can also read our hair transplant cost analysis for 2022 to find out how much you should be paying for a hair transplant.

If you’re not sure where to start, speak to one of our experienced specialists. Book a free consultation now to get the best advice on hair loss treatments.

Does Alpecin Work?, Wimpole Clinic

Sources:

  1. Dihydrotestosterone-induced hair regrowth inhibition by activating androgen receptor in C57BL6 mice simulates androgenetic alopecia
  2. The effects of minoxidil, 1% pyrithione zinc and a combination of both on hair density: a randomized controlled trial
  3. Efficacy of the caffeine complex in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia
  4. Efficacy of a cosmetic phyto-caffeine shampoo in female androgenetic alopecia
  5. Efficacy of a Cosmetic Caffeine Shampoo in Androgenetic Alopecia management
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on September 2, 2022
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on September 2, 2022

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