The main scams and dubious devices in the world of hair removal are:
“Hair growth inhibitors” and other over-the-counter topical products
Overpromise (sales pitches that exaggerate results). This includes almost anything sold on television.
Sadly, there are too many scams to list them all here. If you aren’t sure if a product or device is legitimate, visit my hair removal forum.
Hairfacts: dubious achievement all-stars
The following companies make my list of all-time most dubious companies and products involved in hair removal, in descending order, starting with the all-time worst:
This device removed hair with x-rays. It was used in the 20’s and 30’s by beauticians throughout the US and was promoted as safe and permanent by its inventor. By the 1940’s it became clear that the device was causing cancer, disfigurement, and death in patients. It was subsequently banned in the US, just a little too late for the unsuspecting consumers injured and killed by this quack device.
In the early 1990’s, this company began selling millions of IGIA electric tweezers through a barrage of infomercials and catalogs, claiming the device was permanent without adequate scientific substantiation. In 1997 alone, Tactica sold over $75 million of IGIA electric tweezers. Tactica continues to market IGIA electric tweezers, even though there is no published medical proof they can work as claimed.
Brand: Global Electrolysis Supply
Type of device: All (see below)
Key figure: Ronald G. Mucha
This dubious distributor operates from mail drop boxes in North America and Europe and sells just about every bogus hair removal device out there:
Epitron ( Electric tweezer)
AAVEXX ( “Transdermal“)
Laser Perm (Home use laser)
Micro 1000 (“Microlysis”)
V2R-G (Overpriced probe electrolysis)
Psoret ( Topical)
Hammond and Weis Liquid Electrolysis ( Topical)
He’s a spammer. He’s a pornographer. And he’s a scam artist selling a bogus “hair inhibitor” with no proof it can work as claimed. He’s also gummed up most web search engines by using multiple domains to promote his snake oil.
This electric tweezer has been sold as a method of permanent hair removal for 25 years, primarily to beauticians and cosmetologists as a franchise. These small businesses then use the unproven device until clients run out of patience or money, thus ruining their credibility. In a landmark case, Removatron was charged with deceptive ad practices in 1985 by the US Federal Trade Commission.Undaunted, Removatron continues to promote the device as permanent, even though the the US Food and Drug Administration stated in 1998 that there is no statistically significant evidence that Removatron can achieve permanent hair removal.
Sort of a poor man’s IGIA, Thomas Mehl sold his home use electric tweezers under such company names as Classy Lady by Mehl of Puerto Rico. After a long career selling electric tweezers as permanent under the names Finally Free and Forever Free, Mehl branched out into lasers. With his money from ripping people off with electric tweezers, he bought his way into the laser hair removal industry His Mehl/Biophile sold a ruby laser called Chromos 694 and attempted to cash in with bogus “patent infringement” suits against legitimate laser manufacturers. After the suits were dismissed and Mehl’s inflated stock price fell, the company defaulted on loans and began repossessing lasers from doctors. Even though Thomas Mehl died in 1999, the legacy of his electric tweezer scam lives on under new management.
Brand (maker): Super Phaser Gold (Rejuvenu/International Hair Removal Systems (IHRS))
Type of device: Electric tweezer “Transdermal electrolysis” “transcutaneous hair removal“
Key figures: Lee Cole/”Mark H. Chandler”
In the late 1990’s, they changed the company name to International Hair Removal Systems and began offering an electrified patch as “transcutaneous electrolysis.” FDA has not evaluated claims of permanence using the “transdermal” or “transcutaneous” methods, and there is no proof either the Q-Tip or patch methods can result in permanent hair removal. Also sold as TransQ-2000 and Pinnacle 1250.
Judith Stephens has been selling an electric tweezer called GHR since the 1980’s. She sued a trade group which tried to get the word out about her bogus credentials and claims. In the late 1990’s Stephens teamed up with the person hosting her websites to promote GHR through a site designed to look like a consumer website, called “Kitty’s Consumer Beware.” These two promote the GHR device with fake “clinical data” of disputed authorship.
This team of quacks started off selling an electric tweezer, but they soon modified the device to use an electrified Q-Tip (honest). They called this method “transdermal electrolysis.” There is no proof the electric Q-Tip can cause permanent hair removal.
This photoepilator technology was first introduced in 1970. In the subsequent 30 years, there has been no published proof they can achieve permanent hair removal as claimed. In the late 1990’s Jennifer Maxx began selling her photoepilator as a franchise, which means the number of consumers who will be ripped off will increase significantly.
Brand (maker):Lasertrolysis (Proteus)
Type of scam: Laser marketing ploy
Key figure: Wally Roberts
Not so much a quack device as a quack marketing term. This guy has been working to blur the important distinctions between laser hair removal and electrolysis for the last few decades. He trademarked the term “lasertrolysis” and has taken a “grant” from a laser manufacturer to promote laser through an electrolysis trade organization. His latest push is to make these medical lasers available to cosmetologists with little or no medical training. See Tricho System, above.
Following the failure of original photoepilator Omicron in the early 1970’s Carol Block purchased the machines and began selling them as franchises. Despite company claims, there is no published proof the device can achieve permanent hair removal.
This device was brought to market with limited data on safety and effectiveness. In fact, it is illegal to use on facial areas until the company submits more data to FDA. Their dire financial condition stated in their annual report published in April 2001 suggests this company may not be around long enough to see clearance for use on facial areas.
The first laser available in the US was introduced without adequate clinical testing and marketed as permanent. After medical articles and lawsuits came out claiming the device did not achieve permanent hair removal, the company folded its operations.
Tactica’s second entry on the list is a cream depilatory and “hair inhibitor” that not only didn’t work, it caused severe burns in enough consumers that it was necessary to do a recall.
This is another Canadian company selling a topical “hair inhibitor” with no published clinical proof it can work as claimed.
This electric tweezer claims it’s permanent and appproved by FDA. Both claims are illegal.
Have a question? Visit the HairTell forum: