Does Caffeine Shampoo Help Hair Loss?

Have you seen the shampoo called Thicker Fuller Hair? It’s by Dr Hoting Thickening Solutions and contains caffeine which, the label eludes, will “energize” your hair. Dr Hoting Thickening Solutions appears to be a division of the German company, Schwarzkopf (schwarzkopf.de) which is owned by the Henkel company (Henkel.com). Can this shampoo grow hair or make your hair thicker? Let’s take a look at the research and see.

 

Caffeine And Hair Growth

Caffeine does wake people up but does caffeine wake up hair? In other words, does caffeine make hair stand up or add fullness, thickness or body to hair? I was curious so I wanted to take a close look at Thicker Fuller Hair to see if there is anything to this.

If you go to ThickerFullerHair.com you see there there are several products. I want to focus only on the shampoo since that’s what I see the most in stores. Specifically I’m only interested in the “Caffeine Energizer” that is displayed prominently on the front of the bottle.

The ingredient called Cell-U-Plex is said to be the secret sauce in the shampoo that’s supposed to make hair thicker and fuller.  The caffeine has been added to Cell-U-Plex to make it work better – at least that’s what I get from reading the Thicker Fuller Hair website.

The website says that Dr Hotings Caffeine Energizer is supposed to invigorate and energize the scalp. Well, I bought a bottle to try it out. I didn’t feel any tingling in my scalp and I don’t think my hair (what I have left) seems anymore energized or invigorated than when I use other shampoos. It’s not a bad shampoo. It cleans your hair like it’s supposed to. But I didn’t notice any effect from the caffeine.

But my feelings don’t matter. The important thing is can we find any science that caffeine helps hair? Specifically:

  • Does caffeine make hair thicker or fuller?
  • Does caffeine stop hair loss?

Well, the Thicker Fuller Hair website doesn’t list any proof that caffeine helps hair.  So I did some digging and to my surprise I did find some research on caffeine and hair.

Current thinking about baldness is that men lose their hair because DHT or dihydrotestosterone (a form of testosterone) shrivels up hair follicles, causing hair to get thinner and eventually fall out.

Let’s now look at the research on this.

 

Caffeine And Hair Research

One study published in 2007 noticed that caffeine not only reduced the suppression of hair growth by testosterone treatment, but also that caffeine seemed to stimulate hair follicle growth.

This study did not use shampoo. Rather the researchers treated the hair follicles of 14 men with testosterone (which reduced hair growth) and again with caffeine, which not only counteracted the effect of testosterone but also seemed to cause some hair follicle growth. The hair growth was seen in a test tube -not on the head. 

In another caffeine hair growth study published in 2007, it was found that a shampoo containing caffeine does indeed penetrate hair follicles. The shampoo was left on for 2 minutes. This study does not seem to have tested if the shampoo stopped hair from falling out.

Thicker Fuller Hair does not tell us how much caffeine is in the shampoo and I could not find any instructions about how long to leave the shampoo on the head.

In a 2014 caffeine /hair study, hair follicles from men and women were treated with testosterone or testosterone +caffeine. These researchers noted that caffeine improved the hair shaft elongation and prolonged the hair growth phase as well as stimulated the production of various proteins in hair.

Studies such as these appear to show that caffeine appears to have some effect on hair. Most of the studies however appear to be limited to the test tube. A more real-life test would be to see if it grows hair on the heads of people.

Who Is Dr Hoting?

I was curious who Dr Hoting was since his name is displayed on the shampoo bottle. According to the Schwarzkopf website, his name is Dr. Edo Hoting.  According to Schwarzkopf, he is a dermatologist. I did turn up scientific studies that had his name so he is also a scientist and researcher.

So what can we make of all of this? Well, there are a couple of studies (I could only find 2) hinting that caffeine may play a role in slowing hair loss, and maybe that caffeine may help hair regrow. This is interesting but no study so far shows that any caffeine shampoo stops or slows hair loss in people who use the shampoo regularly.

The company that makes Thicker Fuller Hair shampoo doesn’t specifically claim its caffeine helps hair loss, but the statement that caffeine invigorates and energizes the scalp, makes me think they want people to believe caffeine has  some stimulatory effect. As I said, my scalp felt no different when I use Thicker Fuller Hair. It’s a fine shampoo but does it help hair loss any better than pouring Diet Coke on your head?

Does It Work?

While I don’t see any evidence for Thicker and Fuller Hair, there is research on caffeine and hair growth. The research, for the most part, appears limited to the test tube studies, but it’s intriguing and I am looking forward to reading human trials when they come out.

Personally, I don’t think taking caffeine pills would help hair growth. If this is going to work, I believe the caffeine would need to be applied directly to the scalp. Options for this might include crushing caffeine pills and mixing them with water (or shampoo) or use of caffeine powder mixed with water (or shampoo). Mind you, I’m taking a guess at this, based on the research I’ve seen.

How much to use? Ultimately, I don’t know but I’d start with only a little bit to see how you react. Also, if this is going to work, I see no reason to use any product that contains anything other than caffeine. No other herbs etc. should be needed. Likewise, there is no reason to spend a lot of money on a caffeine product either. If you try, this and it worked – or didn’t – I hope you will leave a comment below. I’m really curious about this.

Here is caffeine on Amazon if you want to compare prices and see what others are saying.

What do you think?

Comments

  1. Chris says

    This is pretty interesting. I wonder if a simple mix of caffeine powder and regular shampoo would work just as well.

  2. Dave says

    I wonder if having a cup of coffee would be a cheaper and more effective way of getting caffeine to the hair follicles…

    • Clyde says

      I read that you would need to drink about 50 cups of coffee a day for caffeine to have any impact on your hair follicles. This is because when ingested coffee must go through your digestive system and the amount of caffeine that actually makes it to your scalp is so minimal it would have no impact. That is why these companies are developing topical solutions.

      • Joe says

        Clyde, I never saw that statistic of 50 cups of coffee so I couldn’t comment on it but since caffeine can be toxic /deadly in super high doses (about 10 grams if I remember) its good people dont drink that much coffee. I’d like to see a study on caffeine shampoos to see if they really grow hair or not.

    • Rose says

      I’m giving Cell-U-Plex a try, Dave, altho it seems to makes more sense to just shampoo my hair with a cup of strong coffee! Ya think?
      Rose

        • Uzair says

          Sir i have just started using it .. Like its been 2 or 3 times only so far but it do seem to have a pretty prominent affect on my hair .. I lost my hair strength and volume since i recovered from cancer though i still believe that using this shampoo is not the complete solution ..

    • Joe says

      AJ, I’m not sure of any supplements that will help beard growth. In theory Minoxidil might help some if you rubbed it on your face. A dermatologist would probably know the answer on this better than me though.

  3. Katie says

    AJ-

    There is a supplement called “Hair, Skin, and Nails” by Nature’s Bounty that can be found in any drugstore. They come in regular and extra strength (the extra strength contains more biotin, which is something the body makes naturally for hair, skin, and nail health, but an increased dosage increases the speed that hair and nails grow and makes skin “glow”) I’ve been taking these supplements for about 3 weeks and have noticed a slight increase in the rate that my fingernails grow, but that’s about it.

    It usually takes months before any noticeable difference occurs when taking supplements anyway. Other reviewers, though, claim that it works wonders for growing thicker, longer hair, and the female reviewers say that they notice the difference most with leg hair and eyebrows, because the hair grows back faster than it did before taking supplements. Some even claim it lengthens and thickens eyelashes. So if that’s true, it would probably work for facial hair too.

    Hope that helped a bit.

  4. Lisa Ling says

    My wife uses the Shielo Volume Shampoo to give her volume, and when I started using it and it has really thickened my hair and made it stronger. It has biotin in it which makes each follicle stronger so the hairs have really stopped falling out. It works much nicer than regular shampoo and doubles as a great face wash.

  5. Helen Pierce says

    I was devastated when the only shampoo that gave me volume and body no longer sold it. I was looking for a decent substitute with no success, until I tried Cell-U-Plex. Since using my first bottle, my hair has been more manageable, without having fly-away straggles around my ears, as all other shampoos did.

    I couldn’t find it any longer in the store where I bought it, so looked online to see if I could find out where it was sold. Apparently Walgreens has it. If so, I am delighted to have found it!

  6. April says

    Im only 24 yrs old and i have really really thin hair on the side of my head where my temples are. It looks like i have a bald spot. Are there any ideas of what to use to fill in any hair thats missing?

    • Joe says

      April, have you told your doctor about your thinning hair? just want to rule out any possible medical issues. If you are “healthy” I’m not aware of anything but there are hair thickening gels and creams that might help. A hair stylist may have a better idea. Do talk to your doctor first though, just to cover all your bases.

  7. Demi Ready-Kurylas says

    I’m a 23 year old female with extremely THICK hair. (My mama compares it to horse hair.) I never dye it. I seldom cut it. When it gets to… about… the top of my ass crack, I chop it off – up to my shoulders for Locks of Love. My hair donation usually makes at least one more wig then the average hair donation. I would love to find something to make my hair a little thicker, so I didn’t have to cut off so much length. I bought the Shampoo and Serum, haven’t tried it. But this forum poured down rain on my parade. (Only because of the reviews about the product.)

  8. mets says

    Bad product. Made my hair thin and stringy. Leaving shampoo on your head is bad news, has the same ingredients as paint stripper. Sodium Laurel Sulphate.

  9. c dixon says

    I am so devastated !!!!!!!! After reading several entries about this shampoo , I too suffer from really fine, limp hair . I noticed my hair was thinning with age. I went into wal greens looking to find a solution and came across dr. Hotings shampoo and decided to give it a try , as I surely did NOT want to lose any more hair…….Well…….. forget that idea!

    This shampoo completely dried my hair out so bad that it started breaking ….. all while I was using 2 conditioners….. not even a hotoil treatment seemed to help….. I am so devastated ! I would NOT , NOT, NOT, recommend this product to ANY living creature!!!

    I do need to add that it is STILL breaking off and my shoulder length hair is now 4-5 inches on top of my head!

    • Joe says

      C dixon, try some biotin. It doesn’t grow hair but it may help it grow a little faster. Also look at what you are eating. sometimes a very low fat diet can have an effect on hair. Thyroid problems can also play a role.

      • pkitty says

        Joe is right C Dixon. Diet can have a lot to do with hair and also the thyroid. I’ve had three friends that went with Weight Watchers and all three lost a LOT of hair along with weight. It stopped when they started adding some fat to their diet. I’m pushing 70 so mine is most likely old age.

        I started using Thicker Fuller Hair about six months ago. I have not grown more hair but the falling out has stopped. I purchased the moisture shampoo and the cream rinse plus the root lifter and the hair spray all from Thicker Fuller Hair. My hair has actually come back to life and has so much more body even though it is much more thinner than it has ever been.

  10. charlene says

    I have very thin hair on the top and sides of my head I am trying thicker Fuller hair along with vitamin b supplements I already see some improvement I only hope it continues

  11. Laumer says

    Although in laboratory circumstances caffeine may have an effect, in real life this is quite different. Caffeine in a shampoo can not penetrate the skin during a washing cycle. It will have no effect on hair growth whatsoever.

    Do not get fooled. Products like this are fraudulent and companies that market them should be seized and their assets sold and their management should be put behind bars.

  12. Donna says

    Join the Long Hair community boards. They have a lot of members talking about caffeine on the scalp. Most of us just brew and pour it on as a final rinse. Trouble is it can stain the hair. Some girls found it worked (a lot of maintenance) and others found no change. I personally wouldn’t buy it.

  13. nox_lumen says

    if the caffeine needs to sit on the scalp for a while to work, why would you put it in a shampoo? any shampoo (even sulfate free) is designed to break down the same oils that condition hair to prevent the breakage that can make hair thinner and duller and slow visible growth. gentle shampoos just do it a bit slower to prevent over stripping, but if left to sit, you defeat the point.

    to me, the logical path would be to add the caffeine to conditioner which works better when it has some time to sit on the hair anyway or as a final rinse. my hair is dark, so i can stir espresso in my leave in and spritz away, but blonds may want to look at white tea (low caffeine, not low caffeine) or the super charged blond coffee that brews up with tons more caffeine than Italian roast and looks golden in a shot glass.

    there is also a way to make gel with flax and hot water, and may people with thin hair may spritz the roots with styling product for loft. when i tested the recipe, i added coffee, and despite being called gel, it dries like hair spray but without the drying alcohol that can also lead to breakage. I can’t promise it will make your hair grow faster, but it should cause no harm and is ridiculously cheap to make.

  14. Sally says

    I’ve been using “Thicker Fuller Hair – Weightless Conditioner” with Caffeine energizer for several years and love the extra volume of my naturally straight hair. I’m happy to know that Walgreens sells it. I’m heading there tomorrow. I’ve tried many other products to enhance volume. This is the only one that works for me.

  15. David says

    I am a 25 year old male, suffering from receding frontal hairline due to severe weight loss in the past and genetics. My hairs are thin and straight.

    I have tried a conditioner (not a shampoo) with caffeine in it made from a company called Ultrax Labs. This conditioner incredibly worsened the hair loss problem. Every time I applied the conditioner more, hairs fell out. One may say that is just “an illusion,” but trust me, it’s not. I tried it a few times to see if my hypothesis was correct (conditioner makes more hair fall out) and every time I applied the conditioner, my hypothesis became more solid.

    I am not saying any product with caffeine in it would do the same, but that was my experience with caffeine conditioner. I returned the product in panic and started using different product right away.

  16. jazzbirdie says

    My husband’s hair has been getting thinner since his 20’s (about 20 years now) and we have tried a lot of products. He LOVES this shampoo and the serum. We have to have ‘back up’ supply in the closet. While everything doesn’t work for everybody, and the caffeine in personal care products is not exactly the same as that in your coffee, it IS beneficial in many topical applications – including (apparently) this shampoo line as well as some face creams (my own personal experience and tested by Dr. Oz.).

  17. Mick says

    But caffeine only works as a stimulant by absorbing into the liver and making it dump stored sugars into the bloodstream. I don’t see how it can stimulate your hair?

    • Joe says

      Mick, good question. I’m generally skeptical myself but will keep an open mind to any human research that can be located.

      • nox says

        Some things that can be absorbed through digestion also can benefit you through topical application. This may be one of them.

          • Joan Johnson says

            hi!
            I know that Sodium Laureth Sulfate, is the hair loss ingredient that is causing the problem & maybe caffeine?
            :) Jj

          • Joe says

            Joan, yes sodium laureth sulfate is in a lot of shampoos as well as other things.

  18. Rebekah says

    My hair started falling out, and NOT growing back in my 40s. Then I went to a naturo-path health care provider that recommended I start taking a protein shake in the morning. I do not work for this company, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE their product. It is a non-soy veggie protein powder called-
    NATUR-ADE vegetable protein powder. Here in Denver I buy it at Vitamin Cottage but it is available everywhere.

    I make a chocolate protein drink with skim milk. After about three weeks of this, my hair started changing for the better.

    I am now 60, and have hair between my shoulder blades, and it is thick, not thin. I have been post-meno for about 15 years. Still my hair looks GOOD!!!! No one believes I’m 60 with this hair!!!

    Hair also grows more in the Summer time, At this writing it is August 2014. In all fairness, I am also 1/8th Cherokee. I think genetics also plays a role. but I’ve seen people of all ages helped by the protein drink mentioned above. Try it. It won’t hurt anything if your hair doesn’t grow back and could help!!! Also under active thyroid contributes negatively to thinning hair and hair loss in general.
    Get your thyroid checked!

  19. Dolly Brown says

    I have thin hair and have tried every product, and for the price nuhairrx is the clear winner. Makes my hair fuller and does not weigh it down.

    • Joe says

      Dolly, is nuhairrx a shampoo or a serum you put in your hair? I tried to find out more info about it but could not see much. I was curious what its ingredients were. I could not find them.

  20. scott says

    Caffeine is a white, colorless chemical which is dirt cheap because there is so much of it left over from coffee decafination. I would use that, probably with plain water as a solvent. Scalp penetration might be enhanced with the addition of some drinkable ethyl alcohol like Crystal Clear, or moonshine or vodka

  21. Tom says

    Yes, caffeine is known as a TOPICAL 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. 5-alpha reductase is the enzyme that is responsible for the reduction (hence its name) of testosterone to the “ultra-potent” androgen known as 5-alpha-dihydrotestosterone, better known as DHT.

    DHT is the cause of 90% of ALL hair loss in both men and women. No vitamin, no mineral, no extracts, no NOTHING found in products claiming to thicken your hair, reduce hair loss, or regrow hair will do ANYTHING unless it directly reduces 5-alpha reductase, and hence reduce DHT.

    Caffeine does just that. It is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and only needs 2 minutes to be absorbed into your scalp. Go buy caffeine powder online for $20. It will get you a massive amount of pure powdered caffeine anhydrous. Mix a teaspoon or two in boiling water, let it cool, and add your favorite shampoo to it.

    It may have the consistency of cottage cheese, but that’s OK. The caffeine is being re-hydrated and expands to a gloppy mess. Use only enough of the shampoo to cover your head, and let the lather remain on your head for up to five minutes for the best results. Do NOT use it all at once, but just enough to let the lather cover your head . Use it EVERY DAY for at least THREE MONTHS. This is not something you only use once or twice a week, but something you must use EVERY DAY if you want to see any results.

    The problem with most over-the-counter, commercially-available shampoos that say they contain caffeine, may indeed contain caffeine, but be in such minute quantities as to be ineffective.

    Here is a link to medical research articles showing the benefits of caffeine for both men and women with regards to aiding in the fight against hair-loss.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24836650

      • Tom says

        My pleasure! I have been battling hair loss, primarily in the crown, for about five years now. You would be amazed at the level of ignorance that people have regarding what causes hair loss and, more importantly, how to treat hair loss effectively.

        The BEST way to combat hair loss, in terms of stopping its progression and the POSSIBILITY (just a possibility) of regrowing hair, is as follows:

        1.) Shampoo

        Ask your doctor for a prescription for 2% Ketoconazole shampoo. This is the same shampoo as the over-the-counter Nizarol shampoo, but contains prescription-strength ketoconazole. Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal medication proven to reduce (minimally) circulating androgens. If you want to add a little punch to the shampoo, add the caffeine to the shampoo the same way I outlined previously. If your doctor does not write you a prescription, you can still use the over-the-counter Nizarol shampoo. It won’t work as well, but it’s something.

        2.) Medications

        There are only three, and ONLY three, medications proven to reduce 5-alpha reductase to a significant level so as to reduce DHT significantly.

        Finasteride (generic) reduces 5-alpha reductase type II (there are two forms) by roughly 70%. The generic form will cost you about $10. The Finasteride comes in 5mg doses. CUT THE PILL IN HALF so the dose is reduced to 2.5mg and take ONE every day. The half-life of Finasteride is eight hours, so after twenty-four hours, there is still a little left in your system. Finasteride may (MAY) have some side effects that include a reduction in libido, possible breast tenderness, and lethargy. These side effects are transitory, which means they go away after two weeks of daily use.

        Dutasteride (Avodart) is like Finasteride on steroids. Not only does it reduce 5-alpha reductase, type II, by 90%, but it also reduces type I by roughly 30%. It’s been shown to regrow more hair than Finasteride, but there is no generic equivalent. The price for Dutasteride (0.5mg) is roughly $300 per month and most insurance plans do not cover it. Dutasteride has a half-life of roughly five weeks (yes, FIVE WEEKS). This means that, in five weeks, half the dose is cleared from your system. However, the drug must reach steady state in your blood, which takes 3 months to accomplish. You may get away with taking one pill every other day, or every third day, which would extend the prescription from 1 to 3 months. White grapefruit juice reduces the amount of drug that is broken down by your liver and will extend its half life as well, however, if you are taking ANY other medications, ask your doctor AND your pharmacist before drinking any white grapefruit juice.

        Minoxidil Foam (5%)

        Yes, this is Rogaine. You must use it twice a day, every single day. It’s more of a band-aid, and does nothing much on its own. It shows the best results when combined with either Finasteride or Dutasteride.

        As-Of-Yet-Unproven-Supplements

        There are some plant extracts, herbs, and tinctures that have shown, at least in some (not many) scientific studies, to reduce 5-alpha-reductase and DHT. Some of these include:

        Chinese Skullcap (it MUST say Baical skullcap) The American version does nothing and may cause liver damage.

        Parsley Concentrate (Apiginin).

        Soy Isoflavones (purchased in any health food store).

        A great bet is to go to http://www.pubmed.com and type in “herbs” or “Traditional Chinese Medicine” or “Hair Growth” or “Androgenic Alopecia” or any combination of those words in the search engine.

        Best Approach:

        1.) Nizoral Shampoo, either prescription or normal strength (let lather remain on head for 5 minutes).
        2.) Follow with 5% Rogaine Foam (twice per day)
        3.) Follow with 2.5mg of Finasteride or 0.5mg of Dutasteride.
        4.) Any herb that you have researched on pubmed that is safe.

        Hope this helps!

          • Tom says

            Nizoral AD (anti-dandruff) Shampoo contains the ingredient Ketoconazole, which is an anti-fungal medication usually taken internally.

            It has been available in stores for the past 20 years and costs about $15 for a very large bottle. The version available in stores has a 1% concentration of Ketoconazole.

            Nizoral AD also comes in a prescription strength, 2% Ketoconazole concentration.

            http://www.pubmed.com is your BEST source to verify any medical claims. It’s a search engine, much like Google is. Simply enter Ketoconazole, or Nizoral and hair growth, and you will find many medical, professional articles regarding it – not just people’s unscientific or unprofessional opinions – REAL SCIENCE.

          • Joe says

            Tom, thanks for the % in the shampoo. yes I’m very familiar with pubmed. I link to quite a few of studies there.

      • Tom says

        As for helping with my hair loss, the answer is YES!

        Androgenetic Alopecia is a condition that progresses. It rarely stops on its own. My hair loss has been arrested, and my existing hair greatly thickened. However, I am on Finasteride, Chinese Skullcap, Soy Isoflavones, Parsley Concentrate, AND a super-concentrated caffeine shampoo that I make myself, so I can’t really say how much is due to the caffeine. However, all the things I use work in slightly different ways.

        The caffeine is a 5-aplha reductase inhibitors, as is the Finasteride. The Chinese Skullcap reduces apoptosis, or programmed cell death of the dermal papilla hair cells, as does the Parsley Concentrate. I think each thing I use compliments the others and results in a system that works best together than any single ingredient on its own.

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