A Canadian reader who is in her 30s with a distressing amount of hair thinning asked me what I thought a product pitched at women with hair loss called Neoptide (about $75). It is made by a company in Quebec called Ducray and is somewhat obscure as well as being the object of some bad French to English translation (“anti-chute: becomes “against the fall”. But even though Neoptide isn’t going to become as ubiquitous as Nioxin or Rogaine, it raised some interesting issues about tackling hair loss.

The key ingredient in Neoptide is acetyl tetrapeptide-2. There are lots variations in the tetrapeptide family and the one that is best known to me is #9 and it is responsible for collagen synthesis. Acetyl tetrapeptide-2 is also commonly used as a skin conditioner and is often marketed as a “youth hormone”. As you can imagine, I didn’t find this very convincing, nor did it help me understand how acetyl tetrapeptide-2 might help hair growth. Eventually, I found a reference saying that it  compensates for loss of thymopoietin.

OK, so what might thymopoietin be? As best I can understand, it is a protein involved in the thymus gland, which plays a role in the immune system. So might thymopoietin or the immune system have something to do with hair loss? Well, I turned out to be on to something. There seems to be a consensus that alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system.

But not so fast. Alopecia areata is but one type of hair loss. The exact number of people affected by alopecia areata is not known and estimates vary widely. Alopecia areata can occur at any age but most cases first develop in teenagers and children. In about 6 in 10 cases the first patch of hair loss develops before the age of 20 years. Males and females are equally affected. If you have an auto-immune disease, your immune system 'mistakes' part or parts of your body as foreign. It is not known why it is common for only certain areas of the scalp to be affected. Also, the affected hair follicles are not destroyed. Affected hair follicles are capable of making normal hair again if the immune reaction goes and the situation returns to normal. (Source)

So if our Canadian reader has alopecia areata then acetyl tetrapeptide-2 might help her. But it didn’t sound as if that was her problem. In which case, Neoptide is probably not the right product for her, unless there is something else here that might help with hair growth. I checked into ruscus aculeatus (butcher’s broom) and, although it is a perfectly respectable anti-inflammatory, I haven’t found anything that links it to hair growth.

Similarly, artemia extract is pretty impressive. It boosts the effects of other anti-aging ingredients, protects DNA against UV and free radicals. The only connection to hair that I found is that Murad uses it in the line’s Thinning and Fine Hair Starter Kit and claims that it “stimulates healthy scalp function”. Meanwhile, niacinamide (a favorite of Procter & Gamble) is mostly used to fade wrinkles and prevent UV damage. Hair growth? Well, let’s just say I’m in danger of repeating myself.

Just to close the circle on acetyl tetrapeptide-2, it is not (as our reader thought) a copper peptide. Having said that, copper peptides are one of the few actives that I have found does work for hair growth. Read more on copper peptides.

Ingredients in Neoptide

Water (Aqua), Sd alcohol 39-C (alcohol denat), hexylene glycol, ruscus aculeatus root extract (ruscus aculeatus extract) niacinamide, acetyl tetrapeptide-2, artemia extract, benzyl salicylate, butylphenyl methylpropional, citronellol, dextran, fragrance (parfum), hexyl cinnamal, limonene, linalool, mentha viridis (spearmint) leaf oil (mentha viridis oil).