Popular millennial hair supplement brand Hairburst, whose range includes gummy vitamins and haircare products, has fallen foul of the UK's advertising standards regulator, the ASA due to what it called 'misleading' claims.
These claims related to a number of its female-skewed products encouraging hair growth and reducing hair loss.
The retailer had four complaints lodged against it with the ASA relating to a number of products and, according to an August 16th report in Cosmetics Business, these were all upheld.
The four claims were as follows:
The first questioned whether the "efficacy claims relating to hair growth and hair loss" for the products 'Volume & Growth Elixir', 'Shampoo & Conditioner For Longer Stronger Hair' and 'Lash & Brow Enhancing Serum' could be substantiated and found them to be misleading.
The second claim found the product name 'Volume & Growth Elixir' to be misleading and questioned whether this could be substantiated
The third related to claims for the food supplement products 'Healthy Hair Vitamins', 'Chewable Hair Vitamins', 'Hair Vitamins For Women 35+', 'Hair Vitamins For Men' and 'For New Mums'. It stated that these food supplements "were subject to Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the Regulation), as reflected in the CAP Code, and breached the CAP Code."
The last, fourth, claim stated that "the ad included claims to prevent, treat or cure disease, which were prohibited by the CAP Code."
Hairburst defended each claim but lost its argument in relation to each point.
The ASA ruled that the brand was making misleading claims, had breached CAP code and had "exaggerated the claims permitted in relation to the effects that the ingredients biotin, zinc and selenium can have on the hair.
These three key ingredients also feature alongside a number of other key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanical extracts in both the men's and the women's formulations of the Belgravia food supplement Hair Vitalics.
The permitted claim which specifically relates to these three ingredients is that they can help to maintain normal hair growth. Hairburst's claims were considered to exaggerate the sanctioned wording which is based on an overview of the actions each element has on hair health.
Biotin, zinc and selenium are beneficial to the hair in different ways.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin and enzyme cofactor which contributes to a normal energy-yielding metabolism. It also contributes to the maintenance of normal hair and skin. It is believed biotin can protect the hair against dryness and help to increase elasticity, potentially helping to deter hair breakage.
Zinc also contributes to the maintenance of normal hair, nails and skin. It contributes to normal protein synthesis, the normal function of the immune system and to the protection of cells from oxidative stress which has been linked to premature hair loss in young men. It also has a role in cell division.
A zinc deficiency can cause hair loss in the form of thinning hair from the temporary condition Telogen Effluvium. Recent research has also shown that women with Female Pattern Hair Loss could benefit from increasing their intake of zinc.
A separate study also showed that men with Male Pattern Baldness may benefit from upping both their zinc and biotin levels. As with all nutrients, it is best to get these naturally by consuming a varied, balanced diet. Whilst supplementation may be helpful for some, it should not be used to replace healthy eating.
Selenium is a trace element which plays an important role in the function of our immune system. It also helps protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage, as well as contributing to the maintenance of normal hair. It has been studied as a potential therapy for dandruff, however, the results were inconclusive.
Hairburst is no stranger to controversy with regards to its advertising. The brand also came under fire with the ASA in January 2019 after celebrity influencers, including Hollyoaks actor Stephanie Davis, failed to disclose they were being paid to post about their hair vitamins.
They were pulled up by the Federal Trade Commission in the USA for similar reasons of social media influencer advertising non-disclosure in March 2017.
Furthermore, in March 2019 BBC reporter Omar Hamdi investigated claims and marketing tactics used by both Hairburst and SugarBear Hair, a similar American gummy hair supplement brand which is promoted by the Kardashians and Kylie Jenner who have also received official warnings from the relevant watchdogs over their failure to disclose their paid advertising relationships with the brand.
A BBC News report at the time of the X-Ray programme the investigation aired on stated that nutritional claims behind the gummies' claims to promote hair growth were "based on "pseudoscience"" according to British Dietetic Association member and dietician Aisling Pigott-Jones.
The BBC also asked each of the brands whether it had any qualms about using social media and celebrity influencers who were clearly wearing wigs or hair extensions, to promote their 'hair growth' products.
The report states: "Asked whether it was misleading to plug their products using celebrities with hair weaves and wigs, the spokesperson [for Hairburst] said hair extensions could be a short-term solution for people waiting for their hair to grow... SugarBearHair declined to comment."
The full list of complaints, arguments and the ASA's ruling in this latest case against Hairburst can be found, here.
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