Let’s get this out of the way: losing your hair is nothing to be ashamed of. Like going grey or getting a few wrinkles, it’s simply a fact of life for all but the most #blessed among us. There are plenty of guys out there, of all ages, who have embraced their follicular difficulties and been handsomely rewarded for it in the long-run. (A one Mr. Andre Agassi comes to mind—after the mullet wig, of course.) Yet most men still get weak at the knees when they hear the words “male pattern baldness.”


Well, 80% of all cases of hair loss are hereditary. With the baldness gene, the affected men inherit a hypersensitivity to testosterone, the problem that causes hair loss. This problem is not just inherited through the father but also the mother.

About half of all men at the age of 50 suffer from hereditary hair loss. Due to the genetic predisposition, this number can even increase in the future. Therefore, great efforts are made in order to achieve effective prevention against premature hair loss. Caffeine is a particularly interesting substance, since its performance-enhancing impact is already known.



Caffeine is known for its stimulating effects and numerous studies found, that the substance also helps protect hair from the negative impact of testosterone which helps to reduce hair loss.

Alpecin C1 is a shampoo that contains caffeine. Pretty weird, huh? I mean, why put caffeine in a shampoo? Well, Dr Wolff-Research, the people behind the product, claims that the caffeine actually promotes hairgrowth and stengthens hair.

Alpecin caffeine shampoo is targeted at men who are losing their hair to male pattern baldness (also known by the sexier term Androgenetic Alopecia) – about 80% of all male hair loss victims. Hair loss in men occurs when the hair follicles (which grow the hair and hold it in place) start to shrink. Shrinking hair follicles leads to thinner, shorter hair which eventually stops bothering to grow at all. For this, you can thank your genes and hormones, notably dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is converted from testosterone.

According to Dr Wolff-Research, Alpecin C1 works by penetrating the hair follicles with caffeine. By leaving the shampoo on your head for a minimum of 120 seconds, the caffeine is transported into the follicles where it stimulates growth and counteracts the undesirable effects of testosterone.

Although it only takes two minutes for the caffeine to be absorbed, leaving it sitting on your head for longer – 5, 10, even 20 minutes – before rinsing it out results in larger quantities of caffeine being absorbed by the follicles. It is also recommended that you use the shampoo on a daily basis because the caffeine only remains active for 24 hours.


The guidelines on the back of the bottle advocate daily use, leaving it in your hair for at least two minutes before rinsing.

I decided that the logistics of my morning shower did indeed permit the necessary two minutes but using it on a daily basis seemed extreme. After consideration, I opted to use it every second day.

If there’s one instant gratification from the shampoo, it’s the cold, tingling sensation that spreads across your scalp; perfect for a dreary-eyed morning. It’s similar to the feeling that you get from rubbing Vicks Vaporub on your skin but doesn’t last as long.

My shower duration is usually around the three or four minute mark so this gives me ample time to let the caffeine absorb. But I’ve heard horror stories about hardcore hair fanatics sitting down to breakfast each morning wearing a helmet of Alpecin C1, then washing it out 30 minutes later. There’s nothing to stop you doing this (except possibly a sensitive scalp) and the back of the bottle does claim that longer exposure yields greater results.



So, does Alpecin work? Having used it for about four months, on alternate days, for two or three minutes at a time, I can reveal with a certain amount of confidence that less of my hair is falling out. Although I wasn’t shedding hair by the fistful before I started using Alpecin, it does seem to have halted the very moderate loss I was suffering before.

My recommendation would be to give it a try for a few months and see what happens. Dependent on the scale of your hair loss, experiment with how often you use the product and how long you leave it on your scalp before washing out. Although the instructions on the bottle prescribe daily use (apparently the caffeine is only effective for 24 hours) my own experience suggests that anyone suffering non-profuse hair loss might be able to limit its application to alternative days.

If you haven’t yet discovered caffeinated shampoos then you are in for a pleasant surprise. They really do work – but as hair grows relatively slowly, it might take a few weeks before you notice a significant difference or less scalp showing through your hair.

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