Caffeine shampoo has been the subject of quite a few blog posts on here, and UK readers may well have seen me talking on the subject on Channel 4’s Supershoppers. I was therefore interested to see a caffeine shampoo being the subject of a ruling from the Advertising Standards Agency. The complaint was made by a cosmetic chemist, and before anyone asks no it wasn’t me.
The claims made were “help stimulate growth” and “reduce thinning”. Those are both tasty claims that any marketing professional would find highly attractive. There aren’t many chemicals that the public will associate with stimulation, so the idea of a caffeine shampoo is one that is almost too tempting to pass up on.
Unfortunately there really isn’t much of a case to be made for the efficacy of caffeine as having any effect at all on hair growth.
The ASA ruling is one that is going to be pored over by cosmetic chemists in some detail – at the very least by me, the development team at the INKEY list and the anonymous chemist who grassed them up. But I expect most people involved professionally in cosmetic product development, not just those working on caffeine shampoo will find it interesting. I will probably be returning to this and blogging about what it tells us about current thinking on claim support in the near future.
In the meantime, hair loss will continue to be a problem for which the market has very little in the way of solutions. There are big profits to be made from effective innovation in this area. My bet is that until something that really works is available caffeine shampoos will continue to be launched and promoted. They’ll just be a bit more careful with the wording of the claims.