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Alpecin Shampoo Review

The Giant-Alpecin team is off to a great start with Marcel Kittel winning the first race of the year. New for 2015 is sponsor Alpecin, a brand of shampoo from Germany. It’s got caffeine inside, the idea is it will stimulate the roots of your hair. Does it work?

Dr. August Wolff started out making pharmaceuticals in 1905 and Alpecin appeared in 1930, designed to help combat dandruff. Today over two million bottles are sold a year in Germany and the company is launching its product around the world and the cycling team is part of the marketing effort.

Unique Selling Point
It’s got caffeine inside. Does it allow you to shorten the morning routine by combining your shower with an espresso? Luckily not as the stimulant is absorbed into the hair follicles rather than going direct to gut or bloodstream plus the caffeine content is smaller, about one fifth of a cup of coffee per rinse. There is a label on back warning athletes “Alpecin Caffeine can be detected in hair follicles” but don’t get yourself in a lather as caffeine’s no longer WADA’s banned list.

Cheapskates beware because the Alpecin website advises that massaging coffee grounds into your head won’t help stimulate the roots much. The shampoo has a galenic formulation to help transfer the active ingredient to the roots of the air. Some can get a headache from caffeine but having tried it there was no immediate effect.

The Science Bit
If this was a TV an actress would appear wearing glasses and a white lab coat to accompany fast-moving on-screen charts showing good things happening. But you’ll have to make do with plain text on this blog. Like most shampoos, Alpecin has the usual cleansers and surfactants and contains more parabens than a Portuguese awards ceremony.

The big deal is the caffeine ingredient. The idea is lab tests on in vitro hair roots demonstrate caffeine provides protection against the hormone testosterone, a possible cause of hair loss – ask many a balding pro cyclist from the 1990s. These lab tests are suggestions and not the stuff of three-phase clinical trials so it’s possible, but not proven. Perhaps if you’re losing your hair you’ll try anything. But it did make me worry, you’re supposed to let the caffeine soak in for two minutes but be sure to rinse your hands while waiting and keep the suds off your neck otherwise you might end up looking like Laurent Brochard.

The Test
A lot easier than riding up the Zoncolan or parsing the accounts of Team Sky. A missed airport connection the other day resulted in vouchers to buy toiletries at the airport and a purchase duly followed.

The red and gunmetal blue lend a masculine touch and the bottle has a solid feel. There’s a spout rather than a screwtop. The shampoo is perfumed but not too strong. It lathers up in no time, only a small amount is needed to get it frothing like a cappuccino. Despite the caffeine content there’s no post-shower buzz, it’s not embrocation for your head.

Haircare and champion cyclists, a long story

The caffeine is the unique selling point but there’s no noticeable buzz. Does it work? Yes, it’ll wash your hair but anything more isn’t certain and it won’t replace an espresso in the morning either. If it doesn’t make your hair spout, purchasing a bottle will stimulate the sport of cycling.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Igam Ogam Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 3:44 pm

    Now that is really suffering for your sport, going the last kilometre. As usual, very readable.

  • Pavel Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 3:47 pm

    What a surprise to find something so not-serious here!
    Haha, this cycling-related review made my day! 🙂 Thanks.

    • Platypus Smiles Sunday, 25 January 2015, 7:08 am

      Good stuff. I am now going to see if I can replace my hair dye with coffee grounds followed by a lemon juice bleach for the streaks. A couple of crushed beetles should add a bit of red and squid ink for blue, and I will stand out for the cameras, by the finish line of the TDU 2016!

  • Mike Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 3:59 pm

    Is this the first chapter of Inner Ring testing out all World Tour sponsor products? 🙂

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:04 pm

      Next up: A katusha Rocket launcher =)

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:04 pm

      Yes, I hope to test some of Orica’s explosives next and if I survive, reviewing what it’s like to own some IAM Funds would be ideal.

      • Augie March Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:25 pm

        If you’re planning to test some Orcia explosives you might want to first get yourself some protective Lampre steel.

      • Chris Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:31 pm

        Reviews should include:
        – Buying lottery tickets (FdJ, Lotto, LottoNL)
        – Renting a car at Europcar
        – Purchasing a Movistar mobile phone (and trying to get out of your contract)
        – Installing Quick-Step flooring in your home
        – Using Lampre steel in a construction project
        – Getting a subscription to Sky TV services (and again, trying to break your contract)
        – Traveling to Kazakhstan
        – Getting a Tinkoff credit card (evaluate the rewards!)

        However, don’t bother with the teams that are sponsored by bike manufacturers. That’s what Bicycling magazine is for.

        • Tom Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 5:51 pm

          In summary, Alpecin shampoo is laterally stiff, yet vertically compliant.

          • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 7:54 pm

            I should have used a version of this to describe the bottle given it is strong but squeezable.

        • Goonie Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 10:34 pm

          You can combine buying lottery tickets from the two national lotteries with trading foreign currencies with Saxo Bank all in the one review. As a way to make money, all three options are essentially equivalent…

        • Alex Thursday, 22 January 2015, 12:30 am

          Turns out I’ve had some Quick Step flooring installed in my home – in my attic conversion. It was budget flooring but reasonably good quality suitable for the purpose. I am however way beyond the need to put caffeine in my hair.

          Supplements of many varieties with dubious claims are pretty common as sponsors of cyclists (and other athletes and teams).

          Ergogenic effect of such is typically inversely proportional to the marketing budget.

  • TV_VT Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:19 pm

    A bit ‘flaky’ read, but very stimulating… When will the Starbucks version be out in the States, I wonder. But the real question, is the caffeine organic and from coffee beans that have been harvested ethically with no harm to the trees, being only those beans that have fallen to the ground naturally?

    And can you use this as hair coloring, to hide the grey?

    First blood doping, now hair doping. The old East Germany was probably on to this ages ago.

  • Ankush Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:25 pm

    A doff of toupee monsieur!

  • BC Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:29 pm

    Hahaaaaaaaaaa. Good stuff.

  • steve Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:35 pm

    dial body wash available in the shampoo aisle has andro listed as an ingredient. so if i get busted by WADA thats my excuse. http://www.dialsoap.com/products/magnetic-pheromone-infused-attraction-enhancing-body-wash

  • BadRequest Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 4:45 pm

    It’s nice and refreshing to see some lighthearted side of you Mr.Ring!

  • Kjetil Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 5:22 pm


  • Othersteve Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 6:20 pm

    Obviously the last 24 hours was a travel day for you.
    But we all love it.

  • Conor Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 7:06 pm

    In der Tat.

  • Al__S Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 9:12 pm

    The “science” claims are so dubious that they’re not allowed to use them in advertising in the UK

  • Goonie Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 9:45 pm

    If you want treatments for hair loss that *do* have actual clinical trials behind them, this article by a doctor discusses two drug treatments, both of which have been proven to be effective in many but not all people going bald.

  • DrPunto Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 10:25 pm

    It’s “phase III trials” not 3 phase trials. Otherwise – thanks for always informative and well written posts.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 10:59 pm

      Thanks, good point. I suppose I was thinking they do all three phases of the rather than just the last one.

  • Girona Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 11:15 pm

    Hahaha, wonderful read, loved it!

  • Panda Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 11:54 pm

    So this explains Kittel’s superb hairstyling. Can’t wait for him to do the TV ad.

  • MultiplexRant Thursday, 22 January 2015, 12:10 am

    Love it. Next up – how about a Pepsi challenge with some Tabriz Petrochemicals? Or giving Skydive Dubai a whirl?

    Still haven’t quite figured out what the Vino 4 Ever team are selling, mind…

  • Joel Thursday, 22 January 2015, 12:35 am

    Maybe they should make Caleb Fairly use it for a couple of weeks…

  • Ash Thursday, 22 January 2015, 4:52 am

    The bottle looks more like car wash n wax than hair product.

  • GingerTart Thursday, 22 January 2015, 8:05 am

    Is there a contractual link between Alpecin’s sponsorship and Kittel’s hairstyle? In other words, would Alpecin ever sponsor a team lead by Chris Horner?

    Thanks for not posting photos of your 2-minute-delay clinical trial 😉

    • Anonymous Thursday, 22 January 2015, 11:17 am

      If alpecin could resurrect Chris Horner’s hair as spectacularly as he resurrected his career on the Angliru, they really would be onto something. Although there would certainly be demands for him to publish his data to make it believable!

  • Silver Fox Thursday, 22 January 2015, 9:59 am
  • Joe K. Thursday, 22 January 2015, 12:24 pm

    Poulidor in the old advert looks like he had quite the head of hair in his heydays–enough to give Kittel a good run for the money! Nice article…^.^

  • Joe K. Thursday, 22 January 2015, 12:28 pm

    Alpecin is packaged almost like a power gel. And with the caffeine content, popping one down on a ride might not taste all that bad!

  • Ben L Thursday, 22 January 2015, 12:54 pm

    Which hallowed bit of tarmac is pictured? Stelvio? Alpe d’huez? M25?

  • shadow Thursday, 22 January 2015, 1:44 pm

    ‘…but don’t get yourself in a lather…’
    predictable but still amusing

    ‘…contains more parabens than a Portuguese awards ceremony…’
    much more hilarious and up to your usual standards

    Excellent review!

  • michael Thursday, 22 January 2015, 2:51 pm

    This review, and the ensuing comments, have literally made my week. High comedy indeed, a visit to the lighter side is a fantastic idea!

  • keith.warmington Thursday, 22 January 2015, 6:14 pm

    Im bald , might the caffeine stimulate some growth?

    • Platypus Smiles Sunday, 25 January 2015, 7:15 am

      you could try it, and could end up with a full head of hair that continues over your shoulders, down your back and over your, whatever you cyclists (I am just a spectator) call your buttock muscles. 😆

  • Anonymous Thursday, 22 January 2015, 6:58 pm

    d0n’t forget Canadian Olympic sprinter Curt Harnett ‘s shampoo commercial ! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-xxC_qIm

  • PedalRon Thursday, 22 January 2015, 8:07 pm

    My word, that Poulidor had quite the head of hair!

  • The GCW Saturday, 24 January 2015, 2:46 pm

    This caught My attention -as an addict. Silly. If this were not here on Inner ring, I may not have known… and no I’ll not be getting My fix like that.

    Did anyone see the Bathe & Brew shower head incorporating a coffee maker over at the Free Form/Chaos thread?

  • GeorgeY Saturday, 24 January 2015, 5:55 pm

    Every cyclist knows that the only proper place for caffeine is in an espresso drunk to boost the watt output.