Fringe - All About Hair

This blog explores topics in 'Trichology' (the orthodox sciences of human hair). We welcome you either as an interested visitor or a prospective student seeking to study trichology to share your comments and experience. As the archives continue to accumulate, probably at some point they will become a useful reference for all. This hair loss forum may help you to grow hair too!

Putting a cap on ......

Today I shall evaluate a product mentioned by my friend Dr Akshat in Dermatologist facebook group as a biomimetic 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor used in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. In line with my blogging convention I shall refer to the product as 'The CAP'. Please stick to this rule if you comment on this post.

Recently I evaluated a product from the same cosmetic company for reversing the graying of hair. Please read the conclusion here. In general, I am skeptical about hairloss treatments. Please read my personal views here.
English: Red clover (Trifolium pratense), Well...
English: Red clover (Trifolium pratense), Wellington, New Zealand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me start with the claims from their promotional material:

1. The active ingredients include an Acetyl Tetrapeptide -3 and Red clover (Trifolium Partense) extract.  This is based on the assumption that butylene glycol, water and dextran are inactive.
Water as far as I know is active only in homeopathy.(Read this)

2. Reduces 5-alpha reductase and IL-8 and improves Extra Cellular Matrix.

3. For hairloss, hair regrowth, anti-ageing! and eye lashes treatment!!

The theory seems fascinating for a cosmetic, so we shall explore the active ingredients:

Acetyl Tetrapeptide 3, in spite of the long and appealing name is a simple molecule. It has the general formula AX-Gly-His-Lys-Y where A is the acetyl group, X stands for 1-2 lysine residues and Y is OH group. The Gly-His-Lys tripeptide is known to have minimal effect on hair growth. They claim to have a patent for the Acetyl tetra peptide 3. They applied for the patent in 2004, but the patent was not granted because Acetyl Tetrapeptide was not considered significantly different from the core Gly-His-Lys. So the patent claim is wrong and the "biomimetic signal peptide" is just old wine in new bottle!
English: 2D structure of 5-alpha reductase inh...
English: 2D structure of 5-alpha reductase inhibitor finasteride (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bichanin A in Red clover extract is a phytoestrogen that stimulates fibroblasts to make collagen and HA. It has mild 5-alpha-reductase activity but more on type 2. Several other natural and synthetic polyphenolic compounds were more effective inhibitors of the type 1 than the type 2 isozyme, including alizarin, anthrarobin, gossypol, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, caffeic acid phenethyl ester, and octyl and dodecyl gallates.
Ref: (Structure-activity relationships for inhibition of human 5alpha-reductases by polyphenols.)

The "cosmetic claim" of an effect on eye lashes still needs to be explained.

But could it have some other mechanism of action not known to the manufacturer. In fact, the product corroborates my views (read here) and I feel The CAP might be more effective than a mild type II 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor.

I submitted a similar product plan on a website called My project was selected as the best project, but never got the promised cash award!! My project is still listed as a featured project in their website Now they have started charging their users for viewing the proposal. I feel this is outright cheating!! peel rating
My Rating: 2 peels
What is peel score?

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About Me

As a Dermatologist and Informatician my research mainly involves application of bioinformatics techniques and tools in dermatological conditions. However my research interests are varied and I have publications in areas ranging from artificial intelligence, sequence analysis, systems biology, ontology development, microarray analysis, immunology, computational biology and clinical dermatology. I am also interested in eHealth, Health Informatics and Health Policy.


Bell Raj Eapen
Hamilton, ON