I’ve seen a lot of people post questions about how caffeine is used and how it can treat hair loss. Well, it can be used in a couple of different ways; first of all, caffeine can be an additive for other medications. So when you get a medication specifically compounded like finasteride or minoxidil, a compounding pharmacy will sometimes add caffeine. The benefit of that is that it promotes penetration of the medication into the scalp and into the capillary bed. This works because it opens up these channels and allows the medication to pass through the barrier more effectively. Also, we know that caffeine acts as a vasodilator, improving blood flow to the area.
Another mechanism stimulates hair growth by increasing blood flow to the area in a similar way that minoxidil works. So caffeine will have a stimulatory effect on the hair follicle as well. Another way that caffeine is reported to work is that it potentially blocks DHT. We know that with male pattern hair loss being a genetic condition, there is also an increase in DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), which causes miniaturisation of the hair. So by blocking the DHT (which works differently to finasteride which doesn’t block DHT – it blocks the enzyme and therefore lowers DHT level), caffeine directly blocks DHT. But let’s be clear, there’s no evidence suggesting that drinking coffee has any positive or negative benefit on the hair follicle. But the direct topical application of caffeine has been reported to be helpful. I think there’s very little downside.