TINA.org Reports Unilever’s Nutrafol to the FTC and FDA

Ad Watchdog Finds Widespread Deceptive Marketing

MADISON, CONN., April 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Unilever’s Nutrafol is deceptively marketing its hair growth supplements in violation of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) law, according to an investigation by truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org). The ad watchdog has filed a complaint against Nutrafol with both regulators urging them to take immediate action.

TINA.org’s investigation revealed that Nutrafol advertises its products on its website, social media platforms, Amazon store, and in national television commercials, as “medical-grade” supplements that are “clinically proven” to increase hair growth and prevent hair loss, a condition affecting nearly 80 million Americans. The supplement company also claims that its products can balance hormones and help with the symptoms of hormonal imbalances such as anxiety, hot flashes and night sweats.

However, Nutrafol has neither FDA approval nor competent and reliable scientific evidence to properly substantiate these types of health and disease-treatment claims. In fact, though the company repeatedly claims in its marketing that its supplements are “clinically proven,” TINA.org found that the studies on its “Clinical Trials” webpage are rife with issues including inadequate samplings, biased researchers and lack of scientific rigor (e.g., results for some studies were based on subjective self-assessments).

“A global industry giant like Unilever has no excuse for allowing the exploitation of a susceptible population of consumers suffering from hair loss. This widespread deceptive marketing must be stopped,” said Laura Smith, TINA.org’s Legal Director.

Particularly troubling is the fact that while the company features black men and women at the forefront of its marketing campaign, not a single black person was included in either of its two randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The only Black participants Nutrafol ever discloses “studying” – nine women and seven men, total – were participants in its “ethnic hair study,” which was an open-label study, not an RCT, and which did not arrive at any objective or scientific results.

TINA.org’s complaint regarding Nutrafol also noted additional deceptive practices including the use of inadequately disclosed influencer marketing, as well as automatically renewing subscription plans that violate the Restore Online Shopper’s Confidence Act (ROSCA) and FTC law.

With the hair loss product industry expected to grow to more than $5 billion in just a few years, there has been an explosion of companies advertising products as able to grow hair and prevent hair loss. TINA.org has published a consumer alert about deceptive practices prevalent in the industry and has also sent notification letters to 25 hair growth product companies urging them to review their marketing to ensure compliance with the law.

To read more about Nutrafol’s deceptive marketing see:  https://truthinadvertising.org/brands/nutrafol/

About TINA.org (truthinadvertising.org) 

TINA.org is a nonprofit organization that uses investigative journalism, education, and advocacy to empower consumers to protect themselves against false advertising and deceptive marketing.