This one is for the men out there! Although we don’t like to discuss it there is a fairly high chance that (*sharp intake of breath*)… you may one day lose your luscious locks! We are sorry to say that by the age of 50 half of the men out there will be on their way to going bald. Many of you embrace the new breezy feeling on your scalps but if you’re just not quite at that stage we might have found a solution – enter Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo!

The Claims
The man behind the product is Dr Kurt Wolff and he has been working away in the lab to come up with this solution. Although many products are sold with bold scientific-sounding claims, we’re often disappointed to find they’re not quite as revolutionary as you might expect from the marketing! Alpecin caffeine shampoo claims to not only stop hair loss in its tracks, but also improve the structure of whatever hair you may have left making it stronger. With the claims, it’s no wonder it has been flying off the shelves since it hit the UK! You may even have seen their advert – German engineering for your hair! We’ve certainly been paying attention – this product is sold on science, so we’re here to investigate!

But first, the low-down on hair loss!
Male hair loss, known as androgenic alopecia in the science world, is mainly down to testosterone – it might give you a big manly beard, but that could be at the price of your head hair! This manly hormone also increases skin water loss and, makes skin (particularly the scalp) more sensitive to irritation.

Testosterone in the hair follicles is converted to DHT (dihydroxytestosterone) by an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. This DHT goes to receptors in the hair follicle and causes a change in the hair cycle that reduces the amount of the anagen growth stage of the hair follicle. This results in more telogen, the stage of the cycle where hair is resting and will fall out. Alongside all this there is also miniaturisation of the hair follicle too!

How are we are going to save your beloved barnet?
Alpecin’s active ingredient is caffeine, well known to enhance mood and perk us up, but that’s all in our morning cappuccino – not our shampoo! The most important property of a product we put onto the surface of our skin is that it can penetrate the skin barrier and get to the cells to carry out its functions. Caffeine just so happens to be pretty good at this, and penetrates the skin through hair follicles (good news for hair-targeted therapy!). Getting to the follicles is great news as they are surrounded by a network of capillaries so the caffeine can be carried to all the cells in the area. Alpecin claims that even after you have rinsed the shampoo off the caffeine is still there at the follicles and it turns out that they may be onto something as there seems to be studies to back this up.

So once in our body what does it do?
Caffeine’s first job is to block the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase which is responsible for converting testosterone to DHT (that hair-loss causing hormone). This helps stop the hair follicles going into telogen (that phase of growth arrest), and therefore encourages them to stay in anagen (the growth phase). Caffeine also increases the levels of a molecule called cAMP, which is an energy signalling needed for the cells to proliferate and counteract follicle miniaturization. Basically, it’s testosterone vs caffeine and we know who we’re routing for!

So that’s the main part that you need to know but we are not quite done with caffeine yet! The muscle around the follicle is called smooth muscle and caffeine is said to reduce the tension in this muscle which allows even better delivery of the caffeine allowing it to act efficiently. Caffeine is also thought to promote blood flow (microcirculation) in the scalp, and has been shown to do so in other areas of the body, which should promote delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles to encourage growth. It’s all looking rather promising!

The final verdict…
The claims of this shampoo are to encourage hair growth and there seems to be some science to back this up! There are quite a lot of studies which claim that caffeine is a stimulator of hair growth.

One issue we do have is that a lot of studies so far are not with people using a shampoo. Although it seems promising we would like to see this evidence but at the moment, as it is not going to break the bank, we think it is worth a try. Some of the geeks have tried it and loved it, so let us know how you get on!

To purchase yours, click HERE!

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Caffeine’s mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use
Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro.
Differential effects of caffeine on hair shaft elongation, matrix and outer root sheath keratinocyte proliferation, and transforming growth factor-β2/insulin-like growth factor-1-mediated regulation of the hair cycle in male and female human hair follicles in vitro
Evaluation of the effects of caffeine in the microcirculation and edema on thighs and buttocks using the orthogonal polarization spectral imaging and clinical parameters.
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