Numerous supplement companies, including Unilever’s Nutrafol, Viviscal, Zenwise and NutraPro, and other hair product companies, such as Vegamour, advertise their products as able to grow hair and prevent hair loss, in violation of FDA and FTC law. The following are some examples:
Pursuant to the FDA, claims that a product can stimulate hair growth and prevent, reduce or treat hair loss are drug claims requiring FDA approval, which these companies do not have. In fact, the only products that have been approved by the FDA to increase hair growth and treat hair loss are finasteride (Propecia) and minoxidil (Rogaine).
Further, pursuant to the FTC, such hair loss and growth claims must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence in the form of “tests, analyses, research, or studies that (1) have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by experts in the relevant disease, condition, or function to which the representation relates; and (2) are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.” What does this mean? Generally, the type of substantiation that experts would require for health benefit claims are randomized, controlled human clinical trials (RCTs).
Many wellness companies that make health benefit claims do not have this level of scientific support. Even in cases where companies purport to have clinical trials or studies substantiating their advertising claims, the studies frequently have major flaws that prevent them from properly supporting the claims at issue. Some companies also use positive consumer testimonials in their marketing, but such endorsements do not amount to clinical proof that the products work (and can also present other deceptive marketing issues).
What all this means is that consumers presented with hair growth and hair loss prevention ads should exercise caution and be aware that the FDA does not approve supplements for safety or effectiveness. Consumers should also always conduct their own independent research before purchasing such products, as well as consult with their health care provider.
In addition, some hair loss companies have also used influencers to promote products on social media without ensuring the influencers properly disclose their material connection to the company or that the promotional posts are ads. This violates FTC law.
TINA.org has taken steps to eradicate such deception in the hair growth industry by filing a complaint with the FTC and FDA regarding one company’s numerous violations of law, as well as notifying 25 other hair product companies of the law as it pertains to hair growth and hair loss prevention claims. To learn about those efforts, click here and here.
Consumers are also encouraged to submit any questionable hair growth promotions to TINA.org here.