You probably associate your morning cup of joe with a much-needed jolt of alertness. But the effects of caffeine aren't limited to your energy levels — it can also influence your entire body, all the way up to the hair on top of your head. But how exactly do coffee and hair connect?
For context, your genetics, diet, underlying conditions and the medications you take can all play a role in the health of your hair, per the Mayo Clinic. And if your hair health is lacking, there are tons of products and supplements that claim to improve hair growth and quality.
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As it turns out, one of these strand-supporting ingredients might just be in your mug of coffee: Caffeine, a naturally-occurring substance found in several plants, may have a beneficial effect on your follicles to promote healthy hair, per November 2014 research in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Here's the connection between coffee and hair, including whether caffeine can stimulate hair growth, if coffee-induced hair loss is a concern and how to harness this ingredient for your tresses.
1. It May Promote Hair Growth
Anyone can experience hair loss for a variety of reasons, including genetics, hormone changes, underlying illness, stress and damage to hair follicles, according to the Mayo Clinic.
And it's possible that coffee could make your hair grow. For instance, the British Journal of Dermatology study found that caffeine made hair roots larger, lengthened the phase during which your hair grows and stimulated hair cell production, all of which may contribute to improved hair growth.
It also helped block the effects of a hormone that damages hair follicles and contributes to hair loss (particularly in people with male pattern baldness).
However, this research was done on hair follicles in a lab, so more studies are needed to better understand the link between caffeine and hair growth and if there are any long-term side effects of applying coffee on hair.
Another study found that your hair follicles can absorb caffeine directly via topical application of caffeine-enriched shampoo, according to older March 2007 research in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (which is one of the only studies on this topic). This suggests that caffeinated hair products may be a speedy way to deliver growth-supporting treatments straight to the follicles for those experiencing premature hair loss.
Again, though, more research is needed to better understand why caffeine shampoo is good for your hair, along with any caffeine shampoo side effects.
How to Use Coffee for Hair Regrowth
It does appear that caffeine may help grow hair. As a result, there are caffeine shampoos you can try. But remember, the FDA doesn't require these products to be proven safe or effective before they're sold, so there’s no guarantee that the shampoo you use produces the effects it claims.
2. It May Improve Hair Health
And applying caffeine and other antioxidants to your noggin may improve the health of your scalp and hair, per November 2021 research in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. The study found that using an antioxidant-rich shampoo and leave-in treatment for nearly six months improved hair fullness by reducing shedding, upping total hair count and improving the scalp skin barrier.
Does Caffeine or Coffee Cause Hair Loss?
You may be wondering if caffeine or coffee can cause hair loss. Java lovers rejoice: There's currently no evidence to show that caffeine can make your hair fall out, so coffee and hair loss likely isn't a concern.
The same goes for the link between drinking excess coffee and hair loss — there's no research to suggest that taking in too much caffeine can cause hair loss (though it can lead to other side effects like digestive issues or blurry vision).
- British Journal of Dermatology: "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"
- Skin Pharmacology and Physiology: "Follicular Penetration of Topically Applied Caffeine via a Shampoo Formulation"
- Mayo Clinic: "Hair Loss"
- FDA: “FDA 101: Dietary Supplements”
- Skin Pharmacology and Physiology: "Caffeine's mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use"
- International Journal of Cosmetic Science: "Scalp application of antioxidants improves scalp condition and reduces hair shedding in a 24-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial"