Are Caffeine Shampoos Helpful for Hair Loss?
This was a great week for discussions with my hair transplant patients about caffeinated shampoos. Do they work? What is the evidence? I thought this would be a good time to review this interesting topic. Previous studies have shown that caffeine can inhibit the negative effects of testosterone in a laboratory setting (i.e. in a petrie dish). How exactly it does this remains to be clarified, but caffeine is known to have many effects including blocking the cell death that occurs with androgenetic alopecia.
One of the best studies to date looking at the role of caffeinated shampoos was a study by Sisto et al and published in the Journal of Applied Cosmetology in 2013.
2013 Study of Caffeine Shampoos
Sisto et al from Italy set out to look at the benefit of a caffeine shampoo using a randomized controlled, double-blind study in 66 men with genetic hair loss. 33 received the test shampoo and 33 received the 'placebo' shampoo not containing caffeine. These two groups were matched to ensure that they were similar ages and had similar degrees of balding.
What were the results of the study?
Men using the caffeinated shampoo for 6 months were more satisfied with their outcome than men using the placebo (84.8 % vs 36.4 %, p<0.001). Men using the test shampoo were significantly more likely to feel that their hair loss had improved and were significantly more likely to report and improvement in strength and thickness of their hair.
This study supports a mildly beneficial effect of caffeinated shampoos. One of the limitations of the study is that it is predominantly survey based and the researchers relied on subject responses to survey questions to determine if a benefit present. Further studies are needed to quantify the benefit of caffeinated shampoos more precisely. However, this study does lend support to the notion that caffeinated shampoos may improvement the strength of hair follicles and slow the rate of balding.
Efficacy of a Cosmetic Caffeine Shampoo in Androgenetic Aloepcia Management. J Appl Cosmetol 2013;
Fischer TW et al. Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro. Int J Dermatol 2007; 46: 27-35.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299