Plant-derived phytochemicals show promise as hair loss treatment, says International Journal of Cosmetic Science

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (kwanchaichaiudom)
© Getty Images \ (kwanchaichaiudom)

Related tags Hair loss phytochemicals Research Scalp care

A recently published critical review of available data on the efficacy of phytochemicals on scalp, follicle, and fiber condition finds that the plant-derived actives have potential to be used in formulating effective hair loss treatment products. Though more studies and better evaluation criteria are needed, according to the authors.

The article ‘Can plant‐derived phytochemicals provide symptom relief for hair loss? A critical review’ was published earlier this year on the International Journal of Cosmetic Science (Wiley Online Library) site. Gabriela Daniels, of the Cosmetic Science Research Group at the University of the Arts, London, is the corresponding author of the review; and she collaborated with two colleagues from the same research group and one from the Gill Westgate Consultancy to gather the data and write up the review.

What phytochemicals are being tested as hair loss treatment actives?

The researchers looked at data from 1990 onward available via PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus and Google Scholar to compile their review. And they looked at both topical and oral applications of phytochemicals in the treatment of hair loss.

The topicals data they included were from tests done on caffeine, camellia sinensis, Procyanadin B‐2, brown algae known as ecklonia cava, trifolium pratense flower extract, rosebery ketone, capsaicin, rosemary oil, Crude onion juice, saw palmetto, red ginseng extract, panax ginseng, and two proprietary herbal blends: one made of chamaemelum nobile, althaea officinalis, persea americana, rosmarinus aloe officinalis vera, urtica dioica, thymus vulgaris; and another comprising urtica uren, urtica dioica, matricaria chamomilla, achillea millefolium, ceratonia sili‐ qua, equisetum arvense.

The oral treatment data in the review comes from studies done on the effects of capsaicin and isoflavone, saw palmetto + β‐sitosterol, saw palmetto on its own, pumpkin seed oil, and three different proprietary blends of phytochemicals.

What plant-derived actives work well for the treatment of hair loss?

In the concluding discussion of the review, Daniels and her colleagues note “that all investigated phytochemicals have well‐documented pharmacological activities and pathways, which hair researchers have also identified as potential regulators of hair growth using cell and organotypic assays.”

And the researchers explain that “Caffeine, phenolic compounds and phytosterols are…the preferred choices for androgenic hair loss, as evidenced by the available literature.”

Earlier in their review, they note that “caffeine's potential for mitigating androgen‐induced hair loss has been most widely studied to date,” ​even though other functions of the active been shown to reduce inflammation, stimulate cellular proliferation, help maintain a healthy scalp, and encourage scalp hair growth—a reminder that there’s room for much more research in the area.

So it’s fitting that the review authors also make suggestions for future studies, saying in part that “a combination of in vitro and/or ex vivo data with a well‐designed clinical trial is recommended. Based on in vitro studies to date, it is also desirable that gender specific studies are conducted when androgen‐related hair loss is targeted.”

The full article can be access for free on the International Journal of Cosmetic Science site: Can plant‐derived phytochemicals provide symptom relief for hair loss? A critical review​.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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