Use of a caffeine shampoo for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men

Conducted at the Center for Cosmetic Research of Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy.

Hereditary hair loss is by far the most common cause of hair loss in the male population. Topically applied substances need to be controlled for their cosmetic efficacy and the enhancement of life quality. Investigators assume that a mutual interplay of several factors is involved in the development of male baldness: androgens, genetic and age factors. The male hormone testosterone plays a pivotal role in the onset of baldness, maybe independent of hereditary disposition. Caffeine has recently been shown to be a hair growth stimulator that helps to improve skin function and is easily absorbable through scalp skin. It is not known exactly how caffeine stimulates hair growth yet, but it appears to directly increase the growth of hair as well as possibly helping to block the effects of testosterone within the skin. It is already found that caffeine penetrates via the hair follicles after 2 minutes and that the transdermal absorption is even faster than other pathways for absorption.


To check the cosmetic efficacy and qualities of a shampoo for the treatment of male pattern baldness, the Center for Cosmetic Research of Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Rome performed an application test under normal conditions of use for six consecutive months. The 30 male subjects, aged from 18 to 55 with a mean age of 37, had to apply 7 ml of the shampoo to the scalp and hair at home, once per day for 6 months. The shampoo was left on the scalp to take effect for 2 minutes and then rinsed out. The test volunteers were not allowed to use any other shampoo, to bleach the hair or to alter environmental conditions (vitamin intake, change of diet etc). The experimental area of scalp skin was examined before, then after 3 and 6 months of shampoo application to evaluate the intensity of hair loss. Furthermore, the description of the cosmetic efficacy was made with a self-assessed dermatological questionnaire before and then after 3 and 6 months of shampoo application.

Hair loss when combing


The caffeine shampoo showed a very good skin compatibility after application under normal conditions of use. The test subjects stated no sensation of discomfort due to caffeine shampoo. Moreover, the caffeine shampoo demonstrated a good cosmetic efficacy. The hair pull test revealed that caffeine shampoo decreased the hairs pulled out by 7% after 3 months and by 14% after 6 months of treatment and indicates an increase of hair resistance. According to the dermatological questionnaire the strength of hair significantly improved and the intensity of hair loss was significantly reduced after 6 months of shampoo application. Besides the improvement of hair conditions, Alpecin reduced typical scalp problems such as scalp itch, scalp dryness and scalp tension after 6 months of application.

Intensity of hair loss


The outcome of the pull test carried out in the study showed an increase of the resistance to the pull test and a decrease of hair loss. The dermatological investigators confirmed the good cosmetic efficacy of the Alpecin shampoo. Scientists therefore assume that daily use of this shampoo daily prevents premature hair loss. Alpecin is designed for the care of thinning hair as the caffeine complex helps to strengthen hair by stimulation of the hair roots. The effect is an overall improvement of life quality and enhanced satisfaction due to the good cosmetic efficacy as well as a decrease in hair loss when used daily over a period of at least 6 months. As a result, regular application of Alpecin shampoo activates the hair roots in the long term, thereby creating the prerequisite for vigorous and healthy hair growth.

C. Bussoletti, F. Mastropietro, M. V. Tolaini, L. Celleno, J. Appl. Cosmetol. 2010, 28, 153-163.