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Caffeine is commonly used to wake up in the morning or get over the midday hump. You might be surprised to learn that it has other benefits, especially for hair.
There are arguments for and against the use of caffeine in general, and the same is true when using caffeine for hair.
Regardless of if it works, brewing another pot of coffee isn’t going to do the trick.
Why was caffeine shampoo invented in the first place?
Common caffeine shampoos
Alpecin is a German men’s hair care company that first hit shelves in 1905. However, it wasn’t until 2010 when Alpecin became the first caffeine shampoo on the market.
The brand uses ingredients, like:
Using Alpecin on a regular and prolonged basis may help prevent premature aging of the hair. According to fans of the brand, hair becomes stronger from the roots and doesn’t fall out as easily.
Many individuals who experience hair loss speak highly of this particular product, and it’s garnered lots of attention. Still, it’s important to note that results are anecdotal.
UltraX Labs Hair Surge
Ultrax Labs Hair Surge shampoo contains powerful caffeine compounds.
It’s cruelty-free and made in the United States. But this shampoo is a bit on the pricey side.
It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly. The brand also has an apple cider shampoo and conditioner that feature caffeine.
TruePure Caffeine Shampoo is infused with a combination of caffeine, red clover, and niacin. The brand says this combination promotes hair growth and vibrancy. There’s also a DHT blocker to prevent hair loss and aloe vera to soothe dry scalp.
TruePure is also vegan, cruelty-free, and contains zero parabens or sulfates.
Terez&Honor Anti-Hair Loss Shampoo is an all-natural shampoo that, aside from caffeine, contains acacia, Chinese knotweed, and black sesame seeds.
There are a lot of claims that caffeine shampoo works well. However, there isn’t clinically viable evidence that caffeine shampoo has prevents or stops the loss of hair long-term.
In 2018, the UK Advertising Standards Authority ruled that Alpecin could no longer advertise its ability to reduce hair loss. This is because there’s no evidence to support the claim.
While the 2007 study cited above showed that caffeine causes hair follicles to regrow in a lab, there isn’t enough evidence to prove that caffeine works with hair on the scalp.
These results may be enough to be cautiously optimistic, but more research is needed.
In the first group where the follicles were left open, caffeine levels could be detected in the blood as early as 5 minutes post-application. In the second group, caffeine levels weren’t detected until 30 minutes post-application.
These experiments found that caffeine could be absorbed through hair follicles.
It’s not uncommon for companies to provide evidence that their product does what it says it will do. When it comes to caffeine shampoo, evidence is often privately funded and not backed by the greater scientific community.
Lab studies show promising results, but real-world studies remain rare. As a result, caffeine shampoo isn’t recommended by doctors and dermatologists.
Caffeine may offer several benefits for hair, including:
- suppressing the hair loss hormone DHT
- stimulating hair growth
- encouraging elongation of the hair shaft
- supporting strong, healthy hair growth
Hair loss hormone suppression
There’s a reason why men typically experience hair loss more than women. Hair loss tends to occur when DHT damages the hair follicles.
Androgenic (or androgenetic) alopecia (AGA), more commonly referred to as male-pattern baldness, affects more than 50 percent of men over the age of 50.
Women with higher amounts of DHT may also experience hair loss. This more commonly happens as a result of menopause.
This resulted in longer, wider hair roots. Biopsies were taken from 14 male patients, 20–45 years old. Each was classified between a stage 3 and 4 on the Norwood scale, a classification system used to measure baldness.
Findings concluded that the longer the follicle was exposed to caffeine, the longer the hair shaft became.
Stronger and healthier hair
Coffee drinkers will be happy to hear that coffee is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants may benefit hair, too.
Treating damaged hair regularly with coffee allows the properties of the antioxidants to repair and prevent further damage.
Caffeine shampoo is also useful for:
- removing product buildup without synthetic chemicals
- rebalancing pH levels of the hair and scalp
- softening and smoothing dry, frizzy hair
- acting as a natural hair dye
Side effects from caffeine shampoos are minimal, but can include:
- scalp irritation
- hair browning and discoloration
- less effective results with prolonged use
For coffee to help prevent hair loss and promote regrowth, it must be applied topically.
Even after rinsing out caffeine shampoo, the caffeine is absorbed into the scalp. The active ingredient moves through the hair shaft to the hair follicles.
Due to the quick absorption, you only need to wash your hair with caffeine shampoo for about 2 minutes.
You’ve likely heard about consuming too much caffeine. Luckily, the same risks don’t apply when using caffeine shampoo.
It’s safe to use it daily, if desired. But using it more often isn’t likely to have much effect, and it may cause irritation.
It’s relatively easy to create your own caffeine shampoo. Here are a couple recipes to get you started.
Coffee grounds can be dried and infused in oil. This oil can then be rubbed on the scalp directly or combined with pre-made shampoos and leave-in conditioners.
- 3 oz. of whole coffee beans
- 3 cups of coconut oil
- Pour the coconut oil into a slow cooker.
- Add coffee beans.
- Cover, and cook on low for approximately 5–6 hours. Stir every 30 minutes.
- Strain the oil and remove the beans.
This recipe is even simpler. Change it up by adding some baking soda to clean your hair and scalp from product buildup.
- 2 tbsp. of coffee grounds
- 3–4 tbsp. of shampoo
- 1/4–1/2 tsp. baking soda (optional)
- Pour the shampoo into a small bowl.
- Add coffee grounds and baking soda, if desired.
- Mix well.
Though more studies are needed, there is some research that suggests caffeine may benefit your hair.
It may help fight off hair loss by encouraging quicker, more lustrous hair growth.
Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website wild-hearted.com.