Skin & Fragrance Blog by Thom Watson


The family brand and history behind Alpecin


If you buy something from the affiliate links, marked with an '*', I may earn a small commission. This does not bias product recommendations.

Subscribe to my free monthly newsletter and get my skincare and beauty insights straight to your inbox.

You’ve probably never heard of Dr. Wolff and might only just have heard of Alpecin by those awful adverts on Dave as the bottle rushes in to the sound of a formula 1 race car.

Just like you, I’d seen Alpecin in my peripheral vision but like most ‘hair loss’ treatments, ignored it as mass-market phooey being only a few pounds available in Boots.

Only until myself and a group of international journalists from as close as France and as far as Hong-Kong and South Africa were invited to get up close and personal with the brand, was I able to ask the hard questions and learn all there is to know about Alpecin and Dr. Wolff.

This isn’t a review of Alpecin by the way, that will be coming in the next few days as I wanted to give you a proper focus and also allow you to ask any questions you might have by comment, email or social media first. Ask away.


Alpecin was created by the original Dr. Wolff and great grandfather to the current Wolff generation. He was a pharmacist by trade in the German town of Bielefeld (the same home as Dr. Oetker, the now global food brand).

He specialised in healthy products including soups and other nutritional supplements. The Alpecin hair tonic (as pictured above) was originally an unpleasant smelling tonic available from Dr. Wolff’s pharmacy and although the smell is now rather fabulous, the formulation has barely changed and still stands up to the brands vigorous research studies.

A Phoenix of War

During the war, Bielefeld was bombed by the British and was ultimately placed under our command. The son of Dr. Wolff, Dr. Kurt Wolff, was the head of the brand at the time and the factory was blown to pieces.

The occupying British forces gave permission for the factory to be built and continue operating with one condition, that the Dr. Wolff’s son had to contribute something to help those affected by the war in Germany.

Through tireless research, Dr. Kurt Wolff developed a production method for the creation of insulin which he refused to patent and offered it into public domain. By keeping his word, Kurt was allowed to restart the brand which grew into two arms, the cosmetic and the pharmaceutical.


Female Hair Loss and Dryness

Male pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia) is not uncommon; it’s hereditary condition and there’s currently no cure. We know why it happens and we know what can be done to dramatically slow it down; but once the hair is gone, it can’t be brought back.

The same condition also occurs within women for the exact same reasons and can be triggered around the time of the menopause.

Dr. Wolff group were one of the first brands to bring a dedicated line of shampoos and treatments to the market to treat this condition under the brand Plantur with Plantur 39 for older woman and Plantur 21 for younger. I have to say, they smell great!

Dr. Wolff are also one of the only brands to actively promote and advertise gynaecological treatments and creams for older women; often a taboo subject in the cosmeceutical industry.


Beauty & Grooming

Finally, there’s the vast (seriously, huge) cosmetic wing of the brand offering colour, skin care, hair styling as well as a fabulous men’s range. Who knew!?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlcina, the cosmetic brand, is currently unavailable in the UK and goodness knows why not. The product library is just enormous and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into it.


The Science

Dr. Wolff works hand in hand with many universities commissioning studies and research groups allowing them to further crack the mystery of male pattern hair loss.


The direct result of this research is then pumped directly into the products that currently sell millions and millions of units each year all around the world. When you think the brand only has 500 members of staff, that’s no mean feat.

Anyway, stay tuned over the coming weeks as I’ll be writing a piece giving you the facts and fiction behind Alpecin Hair Loss products. As mentioned, do get in touch with any questions you might have!

Subscribe to my free monthly newsletter and get my skincare and beauty insights straight to your inbox.