I was having dinner with my family recently when the topic of hereditary baldness came up. My nephews were worrying that they would inherit some genes from my father-in-law, who went bald when he was in his early twenties.
My nephew then dropped a comment that ended up being the discussion around the table for the next 10 minutes:?
"Drink red wine - it makes your hair grow!"
The views around the room, from the men and women, who all drink red wine was mixed. Some had also heard this tip and believed it, but others thought it was just another one of those old-wives-tales.
But it did prompt me to do some more research into whether red wine really does make your hair grow for my readers.
The French Connection
Many people make the immediate link with French people, who are well known for drinking wine from a fairly early age. The stereotypical French woman is seen as having thick, long, dark hair - so perhaps the idea or suggestion originally came from there?
A study was carried out on men from four countries, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom and questions were asked about their attitudes to hair loss. Not only about their own hair and experiences, but also how they saw hair loss in others in their country.
The results were fairly consistent across all of the countries studied, which leads me to believe that French men are not more or less worried about their hair loss compared to anyone else - so drinking red wine (or having more hair because of it) does not seem to have an effect.
If their culture means that they drink more wine, you would expect that their attitudes might be different to places like the UK, who drink more beers (and afternoon tea!).
Internal Use Only?
It is commonly known that adding products directly to your hair does help your scalp and hair stay clean, which can be a great way to help promote new hair growth and help prevent hair loss.
Reservatrol is good for hair growth.
However, red wine is not something that you would think to put directly to your scalp (especially as it can be expensive to buy). Some people have noted that chemicals such as Resveratrol, that is found in many different plants, including red grape skins and seeds (and therefore wine) can help prevent hair loss.
But Resveratrol is also known for being good for preventing heart disease, obesity and cancer, so I think it is a generally good substance - not specifically good for hair.
So if Resveratrol was really the “hair loss wonder drug” you would think that it would be included in many types of hair loss shampoo. If you search on Amazon for “shampoo resveratrol” there are very few matches at all, which is evidence for me that it does not really have that much effect - otherwise it would be a very common ingredient.
But saying that, Loreal has patented a product that contains grape seed, that is designed to be used in shampoo for men, specifically to target those suffering hair loss. So it might not all be rubbish after all - and there are Reservatrol supplements too that can be taken.
So will drinking wine help increase your Reservatrol levels?
But does that mean you should be pouring bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon on your head in the shower to boost your reservatrol levels? Probably not. The amounts of chemicals such as resveratrol in the wine will be so small, they will not have any real effect at all.
The evidence points to that fact that you might be better off using a shampoo that contains grape seed extract or taking a supplement to get the additional boost. Grape seeds and skins also contain procyanidin oligomers that have been tested by scientists, who indicate that they help the stimulation of hair cells.
The extract is to be taken once per day, but you can also get a lotion that you can massage into your scalp too.
Grape seed extract is a regular ingredient in many shampoos and conditioners, even from larger companies such as Garnier. However, they are not sold specifically as hair loss treatments - it is just listed as an additional ingredient that will help keep your hair healthy - and keeping your scalp as clean as possible is one of the best tips I would give for keeping your hair loss to a minimum.
Wine will dehydrate your hair too.
Another point to remember is that when drinking alcohol, your body becomes dehydrated. Keeping your body healthy and eating and drinking the right things is also a great tip for keeping your hair healthy.
If you drink too much alcohol and don’t watch how much water you are also taking on the replenish your levels, you might find your hair gets dry and brittle and will fall out more easily.
What are people saying about Red Wine and hair loss?
Most of the evidence and talk around the benefits of using red wine to help you grow hair is based on drinking it (yay!). The most popular theory is that drinking wine will help increase the blood vessel size slightly, stimulate blood flow around the body and therefore help the scalp.
It has been shown that massaging the scalp to help blood flow in that area can be beneficial for hair growth - so wine might be helpful after all.
Not just wine?
The hole I would like to pick in this theory is that any kind of alcohol will help increase blood flow and therefore should make your hair grow faster and longer. You don’t hear people suggesting to drink Gin to grow more hair…
Many people on hair care forums have suggested that if drinking red wine was really the best thing, then they would have the longest hair in the world. I guess it might work better for some people than others though as there are people who swear by drinking red wine regularly.
Oestrogen, alcohol and hair loss.
If you are not a drinker, then eating foods containing the same or similar chemicals or buying red grapes should also give you the same benefits (as long as you get the seeded variety). Although, you would need to eat a heck of a lot of grapes to get the same amounts as you would get from a single supplement tablet.
Another chemical in your body that has a negative effect on hair growth is having too much Estrogen, which can block the hair follicles and stop them from working. As women get older, their Oestrogen levels change (as part of menopause) and they may suffer hair loss.
Drink in moderation.
Whilst hair loss can lead to your drink, the morning after a good session of any type of alcohol, the Oestrogen levels in your body rise, however normally only when you have drunk a considerable amount.
So whilst you might have the benefits of the chemicals from red wine in you, the hangover might lead to a sharp increase of the stuff that you really don’t want.
Alcohol has also shown to be a substance that can block B Vitamins from being absorbed. One of the main causes of hair loss is the high amounts of DHT in the bloodstream which can stop hair from growing (and is related to Male Pattern Baldness). Alcohol can stop the important B6 vitamin, which is great at blocking DHT from entering the hair follicles.
I think the conclusion to the question of if red wine will make your hair grow is that it could help in some circumstances but the overall evidence shows that there are too many negative aspects for it to be considered truthful.
There is evidence that the chemicals found in grape seeds and skins can be beneficial for your hair, skin and wellbeing and the rumour of getting benefits from increased blood flow also has a small amount of truth - but the morning after Oestrogen effect might cancel all of this out.
Stress is bad for hair loss.
One aspect that I have not seen mentioned in other forums and websites on the internet is that drinking any alcohol can help reduce stress, which has definitely been proven to be a major cause of hair loss (especially in women). So a little tipple at the end of each night might be a good thing after all.
There are many health drawbacks to drinking wine too, such as liver damage, stomach ulcers - not to mention alcoholism - so be responsible and keep your intake to a sensible level. I am certainly not advocating rushing to the store to stock up on a cheeky bottle of red.
You are probably much better off using a good hair growth shampoo and conditioner that only uses natural ingredients.
Over to you...
Have you heard of this too, or do you know it to work? Or are you on the fence too?
Use the comments section below to let us know your thoughts.