Last year South Africans bought 350,000 bottles of a caffeine hair-loss shampoo that was slammed in the UK

Business Insider SA
  • Germany's Dr Wolff Group says it sold more than 350,000 bottles of its different caffeine shampoos in South Africa last year.
  • At between R100 and R160 a bottle, that is some R40 million worth of a product that promises to counter hair loss.
  • In March an advertising watchdog in the UK ruled Dr Wolff may no longer make such claims in that country – because the evidence that caffeine works just isn't there.

Last year it sold more than 100,000 bottles of its Plantur 39 Phyto-Caffeine Shampoo in South Africa, the German Dr Wolff Group said on Wednesday.

It also sold nearly 250,000 bottles of its more broadly targeted Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo that comes in different variants, for total sales of some 350,000 bottles.

Health and beauty retailers sell the various shampoos at prices ranging from just over R100 to around R160, putting total sales at a value of around R40 million.

The German company claims its caffeine hair products counters hair loss, as long as it is not as a result of a medical condition.

But at the end of March the UK's Advertising Standards Authority banned the company from claiming it can help reduce hair loss, saying there was no proof its products work.

Dr Wolff submitted research on caffeine and "hair pull tests" to the UK ASA, but the body said it never pointed to any decent study of its own products being used by consumers who saw results.

"We concluded that the claim 'it can actually help to reduce hair loss' had not been substantiated and was therefore misleading," the UK ASA ruled.

Asked about the UK ruling, the Dr Wolff Group told Business Insider South Africa it did not accept the UK ASA finding. The company pointed to a study it had part-funded that reported "new growth-promoting effects of caffeine on human hair follicles" – in test-tube tests.

Another study found that caffeine absorbed into hair can make it 13.2% more stiff.

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