Alpecin Shampoo Review: Side Effects, Benefits and Ingredients

By Paul Taylor

Can Alpecin shampoo really stop hair loss? This review reveals the results and benefits of caffeine shampoo, as well as ingredients and possible side effects.

Alpecin shampoo bottle

In total, three popular hair loss shampoos have been analyzed in detail:

  • Alpecin Shampoo C1 (caffeine shampoo)

  • Nisim NewHair Biofactors Shampoo 

  • Nizoral Dandruff Shampoo

The first three pages review these very different shampoo products. The fourth page then gives a comparison chart of these, and other dedicated hair loss shampoos, to help you decide which might be best. Here’s why I chose to review these three particular products:

  • Alpecin (reviewed below) represents novelty hair loss shampoos (i.e., those which always seem to contain the latest "special" ingredient).

  • Nisim shampoo (page 2) represents one of the many DHT blocker shampoos available.

  • And Nizoral (page 3) represents drug-based* shampoo products.

* Many people don’t really consider medicated shampoos to be drugs. So, for that reason, Nizoral appears in this (shampoo) section and not the drug section of my hair loss product reviews.

Alpecin Shampoo C1

When I first heard about Alpecin shampoo, I wondered whether it was simply the latest example of a gimmicky product which tries to tackle hair loss by adding an ingredient that’s had some, perhaps limited, success in stimulating hair regrowth.

I had my doubts simply because there are so many substances that are said to be able to help hair regrowth through topical application. For example, the following foods and drinks are all known to contain such substances:

  • Cocoa (i.e., dark chocolate)

  • Unripe green apple skins

  • Blueberries

  • Red grape seeds and skins (e.g., red wine)

  • Spices (e.g., cinnamon and fenugreek)

  • Peppers (for their capsaicin)

  • Garlic and onion (for their sulfur)

  • Green tea

  • Fats (e.g., omega 3, omega 6 and olive oil)

  • Etc…

Almost everything, it seems, can stop hair loss!

Sarcasm aside, studies of caffeine-containing products (including a spray and Alpecin shampoo) do seem to show that applying caffeine to the scalp can result in beneficial help to hair growth.

And given that the advertising for Alpecin shampoo states that: "over one million bottles have been sold" in the UK alone, this does confirm its popularity as a hair loss product, and also suggests that there do seem to be many satisfied customers.

How Does Caffeine Shampoo Treat Hair Loss?

Caffeine, it seems, is amazing stuff. Apparently, it can stimulate the hair follicles back into hair regrowth, reduce inflammation within scalp tissue, and also counteract the damage that testosterone does to the skin.*

* It does seem very odd to me that testosterone can, somehow, damage the skin. But, apparently that’s what studies carried out in Germany seem to show. According to the Alpecin website, testosterone will:

  • Harm the skin‘s natural barrier causing water loss (presumably, this causes dry skin).

  • Increase skin permeability (allowing external substances to penetrate the skin).

  • Reduce skin regeneration (causing the rate of cell division to decrease).

And caffeine almost miraculously seems to be able to undo all these things!

What I find particularly interesting is that, whilst caffeine shampoo does tackle testosterone, it doesn’t stop the conversion of testosterone to DHT (i.e., unlike the DHT blocker shampoo reviewed on the next page)

For Any Type of Hair Loss?

No, not really. The research into caffeine shampoo is quite clear - its use is intended specifically for androgenetic alopecia.

However, I have read a review from a young woman who was suffering from patchy hair loss (which sounds like alopecia areata) who said that Alpecin shampoo definitely did help her.

So, given that caffeine appears to be able to stimulate scalp follicles into hair regrowth, perhaps Alpecin shampoo might help people with other types of hair loss too.

Any Dangerous Shampoo Ingredients?

Most shampoos have a lot of ingredients (including Alpecin which has 28). And some of these fulfill important roles such as foaming agents, preservatives, perfumes, etc.

However, whilst somewhat controversial, it’s often been said that certain shampoo ingredients can cause side effects including: skin irritation & allergies, eye irritation, hormone disruption and damage to hair follicles (which can be harmful to hair growth).

Such potentially dangerous ingredients include:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

  • Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Full name: sodium lauryl ether sulfate

  • Sodium benzoate

  • Parabens

  • Cocamide MEA

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine

Now, I don’t know what you think, but even the names sound dangerous to me!

And if you think that dedicated hair loss shampoos like Alpecin would not include potentially harmful substances like these, you’d be wrong!

Alpecin shampoo contains SLES, parabens and sodium benzoate.

In fact, all three hair loss shampoos in this review contain one or more of the substances listed above.

Of course, to avoid any potential risk to your health, you can always look for a shampoo with the word "organic" in the ingredients list. This should make sure the product you use is largely, or wholly, free from that list of chemicals above.

This is certainly what I do, as you can see from the label above. And further information about the shampoo I use is given on Page 4 of this review.

Any Side Effects From Caffeine?

Caffeine is the active ingredient in Alpecin shampoo, so the bigger the dose, the greater its effect will be (you’re supposed to leave Alpecin on your scalp for two or more minutes by the way).

The amount of caffeine you’ll be exposed to from a single hair wash every day should be perfectly safe unless your body is particularly sensitive to this substance – and some people have reported a strong burning sensation.

Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo Results

Having researched the use of caffeine shampoo as a possible approach to counteract hair loss, I do get the impression that caffeine can help (although the actual mechanism as to how it stimulates the hair roots does seem a little strange).

But, given that coffee-junkies are not immune to hair loss, if caffeine does help, clearly you can't drink your way to a full head of hair! It must be applied topically within a suitable carrier to deliver it down into the hair follicles.

However, from researching online reviews, I don’t believe any topical caffeine product can really stop hair loss.

But, unfortunately, many people seem to raise their expectations of products like this far too high. And when they don’t work, their disappointment is clear to see. From the reviews I’ve read, quite a few said that Alpecin shampoo did not result in any noticeable benefit at all, even after two years. Of course, why on earth someone would persevere for two years with something that doesn’t work remains a mystery to me!

So, whilst caffeine shampoo might be able to benefit some people to some extent, would a DHT blocker shampoo prove more successful? Find out on the next page.

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Read next page?  Nisim DHT blocker shampoo review.

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