There are certainly no shortage of products that claim to cure
baldness. There is however, a shortage of products that actually
A Little History: In 400 B.C. Hippocrates tried to regrow
hair by rubbing pigeon dung into his scalp. In
the 1800's people used chicken poop. It sounds pretty funny, but
Camel-dung treatments persisted well into this century.
In The Present: Unproven baldness remedies still abound. Herbal
Lotions, Anti-oxidant shampoos, vitamins, and even a "sperm
based" product persist. Many of these treatments are sold out of the
back of magazines and (of course) on the internet.
In this section we will discuss different hoaxes, why we fall for
them, what the government does about them, and 10 warning signs of
Typical Hair Loss Hoaxes:
Bogus hairloss products seem to fall into three categories. Here
we will discuss the three types of phony cures and we'll look at some
comments by industry experts.
Bogus claims will say something like "Did you know that years of
shampooing, conditioning, and hair spraying have clogged your
follicles and trapped your hair". This seems to be a logical
explanation for baldness at first. It also makes a good hoax because
it strokes our ego into believing.
- There is nothing wrong with me as a person.
- A large industry (in this case the makers of hair products)
has done me wrong.
- It isn't my fault.
- I actually do have the potential to grow a full head of hair.
This product can help me reach that potential.
Let's get back to reality and look at some honest opinions and
- Dr. David Whiting M.D. and director of the Baylor hair
Research and Treatment Center in Dallas said "The claim that
plugged follicles cause balding goes back to the 1840's. There has
never been any evidence that it is true."
- Dr. Harry Roth M.D. A dermatologist that specializes in hair
loss at the University of California at San Francisco says
"Believe me, it is VERY difficult to trap viable hair beneath the
skin". Ask any man who suffers from ingrown hairs from
- Dr. Roth goes on to say "I've seen 40 people a day for 35
years, and I've never once seen a baldness problem related to
Nutritional Products To Feed You or Your
Some products claim that hairloss is the result of your poor
nutrition. This claim seems to play upon our psyche in a different
- Most people know that they have a poor diet, we are bombarded
with information about how to improve our diet and few of us
follow all of the rules.
- Since we already admit to having a poor diet it is logical for
us to believe it is the cause of our hairloss.
Let's look at some interesting points related to nutrition:
- Cultures with radically different diets all experience hair
- Many homeless people have thick hair.
- Many overfed persons are balding.
- Back to Dr. Roth who says "Unless he is in a sever state of
malnutrition, the average American man eats more than enough
essential vitamins and minerals to grow hair."
- Let us not forget that while many of us are losing our hair we
seem to be growing more hair in other areas.
Vibrators for Your Head:
One very old theory is that poor circulation above the ears will
cause hair loss. Barbers used to try to use massagers to agitate the
follicles of customers. There is no evidence that follicle
stimulation will encourage new hair growth. Dr. Douglas Altchek M.D.
a dermatologist at Mr. Sinai Hospital in New York says "A scalp
massage may feel good, but it won't help you grow a single hair".
Why We Sometimes Believe These Hoaxes:
It is likely that you know someone that has tried a questionable
product and claims that it works. Here are three reasons why they
might believe it.
Sort of a mystery of medical science but a significant percentage
of people in any medical study that are given an inert mixture claim
to see results. In the Rogaine trials hundreds of men that used an
inert mixture claimed that it worked for them. Of course more of the
Rogaine users claimed to see effects, but a significant number of
placebo users believed that achieved results.
The gains due to Placebo Effect are usually short lived.
Eventually the user comes around to determine that maybe they really
aren't growing a full head of hair. This is why many scalp cleansers,
massagers, etc. do not see many repeat customers.
Dr. Harry Roth M.D. A dermatologist that specializes in hair loss
at the University of California at San Francisco believes that many
antibaldness shampoos appear to work because the users simply wash
their hair more often which makes it appear fuller. You don't need to
buy a $50 blend of spices from the orient to do that, any shampoo
will have the same effect.
Many products that promise to grow hair actually make your hair
fatter. They contain chemicals that thicken the hair shafts and give
the illusion of new hair growth. Usually these products use
hydrolized animal protein or panthenol although these ingredients
rarely appear on the label.
Hair thickening should only be called a hoax if the product
promises to grow new hair. Many over the counter hair thickeners are
available. Spending more than $10 per bottle is outrageous however
even if it was developed by Monks in Elbonia.Why the Government Doesn't Stop These Hoaxes:
Many people are asking why doesn't the government act against companies that produce products make false claims.
In an article in Men's Health magazine Dan Rutz interviewed Don McLearn Deputy Associate Commissioner For Public Affairs. In the interview the agency said it has more important concerns than deciding if dead weeds from the Orient will grow hair. "If something that's called a baldness cure is hurting or killing people, we'll take action" says McLearn "We just don't have the resources to go after everyone".
This may explain why some marketer can get away with pretty much anything as long as the product is harmless.
The Federal Trade Commision sometimes takes action in these cases although their "top priorities are claims involving health and safety". The FTC does have one trophy on their shelf. The FTC successfully defeated a company that marketed the "Helsinki Formula" a $50 shampoo that supposedly regrew hair through a combination of vitamin enrichment and scalp cleansing.
The Helsinki Formula
In one case the popularity of the product was its downfall. The Helsinki Formula was marketed between 1985 and 1990 on a 1/2 hour infomercial titled "Discover with Rober Vaughan". Sales of the Helsinki Formula eventually reached $101 Million at $50 a piece. Unfortunately it took until February of 1996 for the lawsuit to reach a conclusion. The FTC reached a settlement of $27 million because there was no scientific evidence that the Helsinki Formula grew hair or stopped hair loss. Unfortunately the perpetrators had already declared bankruptcy.
While the Helsinki Formula's popularity led to its downfall, there are many smaller operations operating below the radar of the FTC. Let the buyer beware.
Ten Warning Signs You're Dealing with a Hoax:These Ten Warning Signs Should
Be A Red Flag For All Of Us:
- It Is Not Minoxidil Or
Finasteride. These are the only two drugs that science
currently recognizes as influential in reversing hair loss. If
someone has something else ask him why every dermatologist on
earth has missed it.
- You Heard About It On A
Website (pretty ironic
warning sign coming from a web store) - Most magazines and
newspapers screen their ads for truth, on the internet however,
- Talk Show Style Infomercial
- Especially if it involves a psychic.
- Is A Secret Recipe From An
Ancient and Mysterious Culture - A long time ago people
went bald as well. Desperate people seem to be suckers for exotic
and ancient items.
- It Will Give You Hair In
Minutes - Don't get us wrong we are big fans of GLH
number 9, but only because it is funny, not because we would ever
- It Promises "Amazing
Results" - Here is a possible example of amazing
results. You pay $80 for some shampoo and it doesn't work. That's
- It Is A Secret
Formula - If it worked
the company would be seeking protection from the FDA to recoup the
development costs (just like Rogaine and Propecia).
- It's Guaranteed To Grow
Hair For Everyone - Even God couldn't make good on
- Money Back If It Doesn't
Work - Companies that offer this type of service know
that only a very small percentage of customers will return the
item for a refund. Less than 1/2% of our Rogaine Customers seek a
refund when it is proven that Rogaine doesn't work for 20% of
- No Prescription Necessary
- Many websites are selling finasteride products
without a prescription. They either offer consultation over the
phone or online. At present this is illegal however, there has
been little prosecution. You can bet that when the long arm of the
law catches up to these folks many will be leaving the country.
You can decide if you want them to have your credit card number
when they leave.