Does Folicure really grow hair?

Jeff asks… I’m a guy losing my hair in both the front hairline and the crown. I’ve started using Folicure, which is supposed to slow down and reverse hair loss. Are there any ingredients which may do this, or is my shampoo and conditioner just “helping”, meaning it’s not doing anything at all? If the latter is true, what ingredients should I be looking for. Is there any hope for me, or do i need to start practicing my bad comb over?

The Beauty Brains respond:

I was a bit surprised by Jeff’s question because I have actually worked on this brand in the past and I know from personal experience that they were careful not to make unsupportable hair growth claims.

What does Folicure REALLY claim?

I checked the internet for current claims and could only find the following:

  • Contains super Swiss conditioner Pantethine
  • Cleans and moisturizes dry, damaged hair
  • Imparts luster to damaged hair
  • Promotes fuller, thicker hair

Other than the vague “promoting fuller, thicker hair” claim there are no statements here which imply hair growth. So, I asked Jeff to tell me exactly what’s written on his bottle of Folicure and here’s what he had to say.

“Below is exactly what the product, 32 oz Folicure Moisturizing Conditioner has to say –

For fuller, thicker hair
Strengthens fine or thinning hair
Moisturizes and Stimulates Scalp
Revitalizes and Strengthens Hair
Eliminates Dryness

I could have seen the “moisturizes and stimulates scalp” along with “for fuller, thicker hair” and read that as promoting new hair growth, along with customer reviews, priming me to interpret it as such.”

Clearly the brand does doesn’t make any unsupportable claims about growing hair. (Which is a good thing because that would make it a misbranded drug.) Instead it appears to be a situation where the “aura” of the brand actually expands on and exaggerates the claims beyond anything the company actually says. In other words, as Jeff pointed out, people are just assuming that the product is claiming to promote hair growth and then spreading that exaggerated claims by word of mouth.

How do companies get away with hair growth claims?

I can’t say that cosmetic companies are totally innocent in this process. Claims like “promoting fuller thicker hair” or the common “helps you grow longer, stronger hair” can be misleading if you don’t understand their scientific basis. So how DO so many products get away with claims like this? If you’ll read between the lines you’ll see that in every case (at least in the case of reputable manufactures) this is really just a conditioning claim. Here’s how that works:

It’s easy to scientifically prove that hair breaks when exposed to excessive combing and brushing. A moisturizing shampoo and a good conditioner will lubricate the hair shaft so the friction caused by combing brushing is reduced which therefore reduces the breakage. And, if your hair isn’t breaking as much by definition it’s stronger.  Furthermore, using a conditioner to reduce breakage will let your hair grow to any given length faster because less of it is breaking off while it grows out. This has NOTHING to do with affecting the actual growth rate of the hair. It’s all about reducing the breakage rate.

If you didn’t know that little trick it would be easy to think that the product is promising to actually help make hair grow better. That is not the case. Any product that makes such direct claims is an illegal drug.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

It looks like Jeff will have to start practicing that comb-over after all.