Why coffee is not effective against hair loss

Coffee hair loss

A nice cup of coffee in the morning drives away sorrow and worries. But does it also drive away hair loss? The assumption is obvious for many, where caffeine is known to counteract hair loss. However, why the popular hot drink is not suitable for hair care and you should instead resort to a caffeine shampoo, you will learn in this article.

It is impossible to imagine today's society without coffee: whether as a wake-up and pick-me-up, as a pastime or as a stimulant - coffee is drunk for many reasons. For many people, the first cup of coffee is part of a perfect start to the day and some even refer to coffee beans as "brown gold".

The black pleasure drink is best known for its most important and most effective ingredient: caffeine. From a scientific point of view, caffeine is the most commonly consumed pharmacologically active substance worldwide1.  This is because it is found not only in coffee, but also in other foods such as cola, energy drinks, tea and even chocolate.

Why caffeine in a shampoo helps against hair loss

Caffeine is generally known for its stimulating effect2. It has a stimulating, pain-relieving and sleep-delaying effect on the human organism. But not only that: it also has positive effects on hair physiology. In 2004, Dr. Wolff's research made it public that topically applied caffeine (i.e. applied directly to the scalp) counteracts hereditary hair loss. What is the mechanism of action behind this?

Caffeine in a shampoo or liquid formulation stimulates the hair roots3 and counteracts the negative influence of testosterone4, which is responsible for premature hair loss. Many people (especially men) suffer from an inherited hypersensitivity of the hair roots to a breakdown product of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Caffeine neutralizes this undesirable effect, the hair root activity is increased and the growth phases of the hair extend again to a natural length.

The caffeine-containing combination of active ingredients ("Caffeine Complex”) of Dr. Wolff Research cancels the inherited and undesirable effect of testosterone and enables hair growth into old age.

If the hair roots are supplied with caffeine every day, this prevents premature loss and hair growth into old age becomes possible. Therefore, many people ask whether it is possible to use or drink coffee instead of a shampoo against hair loss. The short and certain answer: No!

Why drinking coffee does not help against hair loss

As a beverage, coffee is taken orally, first passes through the digestive organs and then enters the blood. It is distributed throughout the body and only a tiny amount reaches the scalp and hair roots.

This dose is not enough to stimulate the hair roots and create a caffeine depot as a protection against harmful testosterone. Therefore, a local and direct supply of caffeine to the hair roots is absolutely necessary if the hair is to be protected from premature loss.

Even consuming 50 cups of coffee in a day would not transport enough caffeine to the hair roots to protect against hair loss - a single Alpecin hair wash would.

The most important thing: the caffeine from the coffee is not able to penetrate the scalp or the hair follicle. This requires a special carrier base (galenics) that transports the active ingredients to the place where they can exert their effect. The galenics of Alpecin products containing caffeine, which were specially developed by Dr. Wolff Research, transport the active ingredient right into the hair follicle, where it has been proven to stimulate the hair root.

Some people then think to themselves: if drinking isn't enough, then I can put the coffee directly on the scalp, right? And here too, unfortunately, there must be a veto.

Coffee grounds as a home remedy for hair loss?

Time and time again, you can read and hear the advice: "Don't throw away leftover coffee grounds or cold coffee, but make your DIY caffeine shampoo or conditioner out of it." However, this supposed home remedy trick is not advisable. This is because it also lacks the customized carrier base that transports the active ingredient to the hair root. In addition, the concentration of caffeine is too low to achieve a protective effect against hair loss.

The same applies to a conditioner made from leftover cold coffee. Because a caffeine shampoo contains the optimized carrier base and more than 10 times higher dosage than, for example, a filter coffee.

Caffeine content of coffee, tea, hair shampoo & Co.

Caffeine is found in many foods. Not only coffee, but also tea, painkillers, energy drinks, chocolate or chewing gum contain this stimulating ingredient. However, they differ in terms of their caffeine content and the form in which they are presented.

Product Caffeine content
Filter coffee 53 mg/100ml
Espresso 100-120 mg/100ml
Cola 6-25 mg/100ml
Energy Drink 32 mg/100ml
Chocolate 10-77 mg/100ml
Caffeine Shampoo > 800 mg/100ml

Moreover, it is not only the concentration of an active ingredient that is decisive for assessing its efficacy or tolerability. Rather, the caffeine must also be able to reach the place where it is supposed to act and be protected against too rapid degradation. Therefore, the right carrier base is just as important for achieving the desired effect as the caffeine content.

In the development of Alpecin shampoos and caffeine liquids, particular emphasis was placed on effective product performance, so that the galenics, effect and concentration of the ingredients used are ideally matched. Product compatibility and efficacy have been confirmed dermatologically and in external application tests.

Product recommendation: Caffeine Hair Care

More topics about caffeine hair care

The active agent caffeine to prevent hair loss

What exactly is caffeine? And how does this substance work to prevent hair loss? Read more about the active agent caffeine here!

[Translate to en_DE:] Welches Shampoo gegen Haarausfall?

Which shampoo to prevent hair loss?

A huge range of hair care products are available for men's hair. Discover which ingredients you need to look for when choosing a shampoo to prevent hair loss.

Liquids against hair loss

Discover how you can boost hair growth with caffeine liquids, soothe itchy scalps and ensure a wonderfully fresh feeling without having to wash your hair daily! 


  1. Nehlig A. Are we dependent upon coffee and caffeine? A review on human and animal data. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1999;23(4):563–76.
  2. Völker JM, Koch N, Becker M, Klenk A. Caffeine and Its Pharmacological Benefits in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia: A Review. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2020;33(3):93-109. doi: 10.1159/000508228. Epub 2020 Jun 29. PMID: 32599587.
  3. Völker JM, Koch N, Becker M, Klenk A. Caffeine and Its Pharmacological Benefits in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia: A Review. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2020;33(3):93-109. doi: 10.1159/000508228. Epub 2020 Jun 29. PMID: 32599587.
  4. Fischer TW, Hipler UC, Elsner P. Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro. Int J Dermatol. 2007 Jan;46(1):27-35.