Topical hair removal solutions have long been the domain of scam artists. Various products claiming to eliminate or retard hair growth have shown no valid scientific data to support these claims. Unless it’s named Vaniqa, it hasn’t demonstrated that it can work as claimed.
Vaniqa hair retardant cream
In July 2000, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Gillette announced they had received FDA approval for a prescription hair retardant cream under the brand name Vaniqa. This is the first and only topical product to conduct extensive clinical testing and receive subsequent approval from FDA.
Vaniqua is intended to target an enzyme critical to hair growth. As of this writing, there is no published clinical data on Vaniqa, but I have included animal studies on this enzyme, and some unpublished reports from the manufacturer of Vaniqa.
For more information, please see the discussion of Vaniqa.
Published human clinical studies
No published clinical data
Unpublished clinical reports
FDA submission data (2000): After 24 weeks, physicians observed that 58% of 393 patients using Vaniqa had improvement in appearance of facial hair (vs.34% improved with a placebo). 42% of patients using Vaniqa had no observed improvement.
Animal studies on target enzyme (ODC)
Probst (1975): Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) levels increase in correlation to hair growth activity in rat follicles.
Morrison (1978): ODC activities can be stimulated 2-10 fold in rat epidermis and dermis by hair plucking.
Lesiewicz (1980): ODC induction from plucking is different than chemical induction
Ogawa (1983): Suppression of mouse hair regrowth was observed using PUVA, DHT, estradiol, and betamethasone valerate. A correlation was observed between the rate of hair regrowth and skin ODC activities after treatment.
Lesiewicz (1983): ODC inhibitor was detected in plucked rat skin; inhibitor levels increased after treatment of plucked skin extracts with 10% (NH4)2SO4.
Soler (1996): Results suggest that ODC is an important regulatory gene for the mouse hair follicle.
Hynd (1996): Systemic use of the ODC inhibitor alpha difluoromethylornithine, markedly altered the length, diameter, and composition of the sheep hair fibers.
O’Brien (1997): Indicates target cells for chemical carcinogens in the skin reside in mouse hair follicles, and high ODC can increase risk epidermal tumors.
Nancarrow (1999): Good discussion of how ODC expression is associated with cell proliferation and commitment in hair follicle development and hair growth.
Panteleyev (2000): ODC plays a functionally important, yet still obscure role in a complex metabolic pathway that is critical in hair follicle function not only in mice, but in humans as well.
FDA side effect data (2000): Most side effects involved types of skin irritation. 2% of subjects discontinued studies due to an adverse event.