Hair removal websites to avoid

Unreliable information sources

It’s very hard to separate the facts from the quacks, so I recommend relying on published, peer-reviewed medical literature for the most reliable information. I’ve listed a handful of websites which I feel are some of the worst offenders for spreading misinformation.

Non-recommended hair removal information sources

Kitty’s Consumer Beware!

This is by far the most insidious of the hair removal quack sites. The owner uses the alias “Katherine `Kitty’ Cook” and designed it to look like a consumer activist’s site, right down to the site name. In reality, “Kitty” used to sell GHR electric tweezers and still hosts the GHR promotional sites. [1] In 1997, the FDA found GHR materials “Kitty” hosted to be in violation of federal regulations. [2] The most obvious proof of quackery is that “Kitty” allows GHR to promote itself with disputed studies brazenly stolen word-for-word. [3]

However, the very worst part of this site is the “Beware Board.” It’s a censored forum where fact and quackery blend into an inseparable mess. A handful of “moderators” (mostly laser promoters) oversee the forums. Unsuspecting consumers assume it’s a reliable source of information, but that’s not always the case.

Examples of quackery

Claims by “Kitty” that the GHR electric tweezer she used to sell “worked for me.”
Claims by “Kitty” that a test of a topical “hair inhibitor” is working for.
The “discovery” that a mixture of dandruff shampoo and mouthwash will inhibit hair growth.
The “discovery” that taking papain and bromelain dietary supplements will inhibit hair growth.
The observation that deodorant is linked to hair growth inhibition.
Glowing reports from practitioners and salespeople about their overwhelmingly great results.

How to tell this is a quack site

As QuackWatch founder Stephen Barrett , M.D. says, “Quackery’s paramount characteristic is promotion (`Quacks quack!’)… Most promoters are unwitting victims who share misinformation and personal experiences with others.” Most regular posters on this board promote a method of hair removal they champion, from laser to homemade concoctions.

Reading about other people’s experiences during and immediately after a hair removal procedure can often be very useful. However, when someone makes observations about how this or that product is affecting hair growth, especially claims of reducing or removing hair permanently, things often take a left turn into quackery.

“Kitty” encourages consumers to post their own “discoveries,” tests, and results. Relying on this type of anecdotal information is like buying a stock based on a tip you read on an internet message board. These comments could be made by anyone, including salespeople or crackpots, and there’s no way to verify their validity. There’s simply not enough quantified factual information about the poster or their results to make a valid scientific assessment.

Consumer “tests” like this are textbook quackery. Quacks know it appeals to some consumers’ curiosity and vanity to disregard scientific evidence in favor of personal experience — to “think for yourself.” As Dr. Barrett writes:

“Most people who think they have been helped by an unorthodox method enjoy sharing their success stories with their friends. People who give such testimonials are usually motivated by a sincere wish to help their fellow humans. Rarely do they realize how difficult it is to evaluate a ‘health’ product on the basis of personal experience.”

As evidenced by Vaniqa clinical data, you cannot scientifically rule out the placebo effect or coincidence based on one person’s experience. Of 201 patients, over one-third who used a placebo were assessed by physicians as either “improved” or “marked improvement.”

Dr. Barrett also notes: “Since we tend to believe what others tell us of personal experiences, testimonials can be powerful persuaders. Despite their unreliability, they are the cornerstone of the quack’s success.”

Some people don’t believe “Kitty” is a quack because she seems so concerned and supportive. As Dr. Barrett says, quacks usually portray themselves as “nice” or positive while suggesting that their critics are not. Quacks portray themselves as innovators and suggest that their critics are rigid, elitist, biased, and closed to new ideas.

In addition to “Kitty” (Member #3), the following moderators/members frequently contribute to the mixture of truth and misinformation on Kitty’s “Beware Board”:

Alison Sahoo (#5): Lasertrolysis of Naples (Florida)
Shelby Owens (#6): Laser Associates of Northwest Florida
Judith Stephens (#15): Guaranty Hair Removal (Texas)
Judy Adams (#31): Laser Blazers (Florida)
David Hardee (#39): Laserbeam Hair Removal Centers (Alabama)
Elaine Lariscey (#54): Southeast Regional Laser Center (Georgia)
Michael Green, M.D. (#275): Light Care Skin and Laser Center (Illinois)
Joel Kutun (#353): Marcelle C. Kutun Electrolysis & Laser Specialists, Inc. (New York)

Bottom line: On a quack site, you can’t really think for yourself. You have to take everyone’s word. On a legitimate consumer site where you can truly think for yourself (like this one), statements get backed up with hard evidence you can go check yourself.

Signs of a quack hair removal product

Too good to be true: Permanent hair removal methods requiring no skill and causing no pain or side effects simply do not exist at this time.

No published clinical data

“Before and after” pictures: These usually do not include enough data to determine your own results.

Marketing ploys: “Exclusive” methods only available at special outlets and coined words like “transdermolysis” and “lasertrolysis.”

Testimonials: “Satisfied customers” with no contact information to verify their testimonials.

High prices: Some promoters set a high price, because it makes some consumers assume it must work if it costs so much.

Guaranteed 100% results: No method can unconditionally guarantee satisfactory hair removal in all consumers.

Manufacturer sites that contain misinformation

Coeptis: Sells transdermal hair removal, as well as cancer and AIDS “cures.”

International Hair Removal Systems (IHRS): Sells transcutaneous hair removal on this slick-looking site. See also the affiliated HairLabs and Harmonix quack sites.

Removatron: Compare this electric tweezer quack’s version of his company’s history with the Federal Trade Commission’s version.

Guaranty Hair Removal (GHR): This electric tweezer quack displays “clinical data” that a competitor also claims to have written!

Ultra Hair Away: dozens of sites, but no proof this topical “hair inhibitor” by Victoria Bodyworks works.

Kalo: Another doubtful topical “hair inhibitor” by Nisim, with a bulletin board.

Global Electrolysis Supply: They sell a brand of almost every quack hair removal product from a mail drop box.

IGIA: The king of hair removal quackery, including the Touch n’ Go electric tweezer and Epil-stop “hair inhibitor.”

Lucy Peters: Claims this electrolysis technique is “immediately permanent.”

I will add more as time permits. If you have a suggestion, please send it via my feedback form.

References

1. Please see my Consumer Beware site analysis.

2. Letter from FDA Compliance Officer Steven Budabin dated 15 January 1997. Available online.

3. Compare GHR studies” on Kitty’s Consumer Beware with 1990 FDA submission data from GHR competitor AHRS.

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