Hairstylists and trichologists weigh in on the trendy ingredient.
Just like a cup of coffee can turn a groggy morning into a great one, caffeine might actually help wake up your hair follicles, too. Haircare products with added caffeine might seem like a gimmick, but you’d be surprised how much this ingredient can benefit your hair.
Some brands are touting caffeine as an effective hair growth stimulator in shampoos, conditioners, and other haircare treatments. To figure out whether caffeine actually does anything for your hair, we asked two dermatologists and a trichologist for their expert opinions. And in case you were wondering, no, it’s probably not the best idea to pour coffee directly onto your scalp to get your hair to grow.
“I wouldn’t recommend pouring coffee directly on the hair to stimulate hair growth, as it may be irritating or too strong for the hair,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “Using hair products that contain caffeine is safer, as they typically include other ingredients that benefit and protect the hair at the same time.”
Read on for everything you need to know about caffeinated hair products for speedy hair growth.
What are the benefits of caffeine for hair?
According to Dr. Engelman, research has shown that caffeine may have multiple benefits for the hair. Studies provide evidence that caffeine is a stimulator for hair growth, which has been found in a study of patients with alopecia. Additionally, caffeine has improved the barrier function in the scalp of individuals, which can help lead to overall scalp and hair health. “Caffeine also contains antioxidants that may be beneficial for the hair, although less research has been done proving specific benefits,” says Dr. Engelman.
While Dr. Engelman is a proponent of caffeine for hair growth, Kerry E. Yates, a trichologist and founder of the Colour Collective, doesn’t believe caffeine will do much. “Caffeine is purported to stimulate the follicle, and some brands will even talk about how the addition of caffeine will lift the individual strands, improving volume,” says Yates. “There is no real evidence that caffeine delivers hair growth or hair volumizing benefits. With that being said, caffeine does provide antioxidant benefits, which will help maintain a healthy scalp.”
Can caffeine help with hair growth?
Caffeine does seem to have stimulatory effects on cells, according to Jodi LoGerfo, a dermatologist with the Orentreich Medical Group in New York City. Because of this, caffeine can potentially help with hair growth. “Caffeine by nature is a stimulant that increases circulation, which could have the capacity to bring nourishment to the hair follicles,” she says. “It also may have the possibility to deliver more oxygen, which could increase cellular growth.”
There was a study that showed that caffeine may help block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (the hormone that turns off hair in those who are genetically susceptible, such as folks with androgenetic alopecia and male- or female-patterned hair loss).
Are there side effects of caffeine for hair?
It’s possible that a sensitive scalp or too frequent use of caffeine in the hair can result in scalp dryness or irritation. “Additionally, depending on the product, prolonged use could lead to hair browning or discoloration,” warns Dr. Engelman.
According to Yates, caffeine is included in such low levels within a haircare formula that there should be no side effects for its inclusion.
Best Products With Caffeine for Hair
Caffeinated hair products are frequently sold as shampoos and conditioners. Dr. Engelman recommends using these products 1-3 times a week as normal, but not during every hair wash to avoid irritation to the scalp. She also loves caffeine-infused hair serums and scalp treatments, which are usually put in the hair and worn overnight to ensure maximum absorption. However, serums and scalp treatments should only be used 1-3 per week. If you have light hair, make sure the product is okay to use on light-colored hair, so it doesn’t darken your locks.
1. Briogeo Destined For Density Caffeine + Biotin Peptide Density Shampoo
Loaded with caffeine, biotin, zinc, and copper peptides, this shampoo works to stimulate the scalp, strengthen the hair, support a healthy hair life cycle, and protect your tresses against environmental aggressors, like pollution and UV light. Dr. Engelman likes this caffeine, and biotin-rich formula because it stimulates scalp circulation and supports stronger and fuller hair, too.
2. Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo
Yates isn’t so convinced that caffeine works to directly stimulate hair growth, but she does like caffeine for its antioxidant benefits in haircare. “My favorite on the market is the Oribe Gold Lust Shampoo—I believe the caffeine is included for more of its antioxidant benefits and it’s part of their ‘restorative’ complex, along with biotin, plant collagen, and niacinamide,” says Yates. “The shampoo feels lovely on the hair, is perfect for damaged, dry hair and of course, contains the Oribe signature scent, too.”
3. The INKEY List Caffeine Stimulating Scalp Treatment
This scalp treatment from the INKEY List contains 1% caffeine powder, 1% redensyl, and 1% betaine to help stimulate the scalp and hair follicles, reduce hair fallout, and condition hair for healthy and shinier locks.
It’s a watery consistency that should be applied at night, left on your scalp throughout the night, and then rinsed out in the morning. Although the directions state to use nightly for a three-month period, Dr. Engelman recommends using these types of products only a few times a week.
4. Bumble and Bumble Full Potential Hair Preserving Shampoo
Caffeine is the eighth ingredient on the list for the Bumble and Bumble Full Potential Hair Preserving Shampoo. To help strengthen fragile hair, this shampoo uses the brand’s “Hair Preserve Blend” to remove buildup from the scalp, which can clog pores and lead to hair loss and hair damage.
5. JVN Embody Volumizing Shampoo
Featuring caffeine, hemisqualane, and aloe leaf juice, this shampoo adds volume, boosts thickness, and lightly hydrates hair, too. We love this shampoo because it’s sulfate-free, silicone-free, and is color-safe, and won’t weigh your hair down.
6. Klorane Strengthening Shampoo
This formula uses caffeine, quinine bark extract, edelweiss, and a vitamin B complex to help strengthen weak, thinning hair. Not only does it help prevent breakage, but it also helps to strengthen hair at the root, reducing the amount of hair loss from genetic or reactionary (stress, diet, fatigue, etc.) purposes.
7. LolaVie Restorative Shampoo
You can find ceramides, niacinamide, biotin, and caffeine among the list of ingredients in this formula’s lineup. This pick contains 96% naturally-derived ingredients, and is really gentle on the scalp. Some folks have noticed some drying caused by this shampoo, so make sure you follow it up with a hydrating conditioner post-wash.
Article written by Daley Quinn for Real Simple