It’s interesting how much you can get away with saying using ‘media spin’ – particularly in this country*. The two big boys on the Australian hair loss treatment scene are both multinational companies slugging it out for your hair dollar – let’s call them ‘Ashlee’ and ‘Shayne’.

Most of us have seen their quick and slick TV ads either late night or during televised football matches.

Shayne wants to appeal to our love of ‘larrikin sportsmen’; with a ‘nod and a wink’ he boasts of a “full head of hair again” and the “new life’ that supposedly comes with it. HOW you’ll achieve that “full head of hair again” is not explained but a ‘laser therapy’ banner flashes teasingly in the background.

‘Ashlee’ has morphed himself into ‘Dr. Ashlee’ these days – with 10/10 other doctors supposedly recommending his services. In his ads Ashlee employs paid actors with their Hollywood good looks –some even wearing impressive medical white coats to deliver their spiels. His current “over 50,000” hair loss consultations mean little when you realise ‘Ashlee’ has been around for about 50 years (and with almost as many different owners in that time).

‘Ashlee’ asks you to think of him as “your Personal Trainer” … your new best friend etc (about to hit you up for a few thousand $$$) – how ‘you’ll feel the confidence tomorrow” – whilst background banners fade in/out lines such as “double your hair density” … “98% of our clients grow more hair/our clients enjoy 98% success rate” … “guaranteed” …. Blah, Blah, Blah….!!

SO if ‘loveable larrikin Shayne’ – now a trim, spray-tanned A-list celebrity with his polar-white veneered teeth & way too much cosmetic surgery  – can ‘grow’ a “full head of hair again” where he once had deep frontal hairline recession and a bald spot on his crown as big as a tennis ball (remember his ‘tepee’ hair style of past years to camouflage the balding..?) – you can too right…?

Well that is what he’s promising you isn’t he..??

If that’s what you’re hearing the company he advertises for promising you – and they are – HOLD THEM TO IT.

Likewise with ‘Dr’ Ashlee: if you truly believe that good-looking hired actor will be “your personal trainer” on your hair regrowth journey – then request to be assigned to HIM. If you accept as true they can “double your hair density” AND “guarantee” the results – HOLD THEM TO IT.

My clinical teachers are always reminding me ’things are NOT always as they appear…’

I believe this is true of ‘Ashlee & Shayne’s advertising claims too; you are being asked to compare your apples with their oranges. The average consumer would expect “98%” success rate and “double your hair density”** claims to mean in an ‘aesthetically satisfying’ result i.e.: positive improvement in your scalp hair density would be there for all to see.

NOT REALLY… what claims are based on are 1cm X 1cm ‘test’ areas where Minoxidil (or some other topical treatment) is applied to hair follicles in resting phase – and the follicle is stimulated to produce a new hair – MAGIC –their claims are proven..!!

As McEwan (1997) writes: “…percentages snatched from the air … unprovenanced ‘research’ …. measurements of the immeasurable. That’s marketing vs. science (sic)”.

Shayne’s “full head of hair again” are (these days) disposable ‘stick on’ hair pieces – as is in the case of his latest TV offering featuring Hazim (sic) – or Shayne himself has visited the hair transplant lady they are the middle-men for.

To be fair, these hair pieces can look very good and undetectable but require regular maintenance and replacement to remain so. However they do restrict some sporting activities you can do, and may be quite itchy and ‘odorous’ between ‘maintenance’ visits. But they are usually the only option for males with ‘shiny bald’ pattern hair loss and little graft donor hair.

A master wig-maker would usually provide a better quality product at a lower cost.

“Your Personal Trainer” is in reality a ‘paid-on-commission’ salesman employed to ‘sell’ you a hair loss treatment ‘program’ – inevitably costing you many thousands of dollars more than if you sought advice from an experienced Trichologist or Compounding Pharmacist.

Why DO they charge so much for products that can be readily obtained from YOUR Doctor or Pharmacist..? I suppose we should all ask them that question: multinational companies are an insatiable beast to feed; they make a profit or they die … or perhaps it’s the opulent lifestyles of their ‘fatcat’ executives and CEO’s that must be maintained; indemnity insurance premiums….

OR do they genuinely believe only they have some secret formulae that saves people from the ‘scourge’ of baldness ….??

I KNOW that it costs them in excess of two thousand $$$ in commercial advertising costs to have you sitting there for your ‘free’ consultation … that’s why (if you didn’t already know) you get the ‘high pressure’ … ‘play on your anxieties’ … ‘you must do it now’ … “come financially prepared” sales pitches.

It’s also one of the reasons why clients DON’T receive an open and unbiased consultation – because it’s a SALES presentation – NOT a true clinical consultation.

Ashlee likes to ‘bang on’ about “guaranteed results” – but this rarely ever seems to extend to refunding of client’s money – according to former clients who’ve consulted me.

Before being locked-in to their contracts I would urge Ashlee’s prospective clients to obtain a full understanding of precisely what “guaranteed results” means to you.

Get their undertakings on this in writing and HOLD THEM TO IT.

On a professional level I also take great exception to the so-called ‘Trichologists’ they employ. In my opinion this is essentially just an attempt to provide some pretence of a ‘trained’ consultant rather than the very obvious ‘hard-sell’ sales staff that ‘go for the throat’. I would want to know if this ‘Trichologist’ is also paid on commission and what else can they offer Clients other than the ‘production line’ treatment packages sold by Ashlee & Shayne??

I have recently been invited to present at the inaugural World Trichology Society (WTS) annual conference in Miami (USA) later this year. I believe I am the only Australian Trichologist invited – and certainly the only one invited to speak. I know I won’t be seeing any of Shayne or Ashlee’s stooges there; Ms. Absolique – nor any others whose qualifications are unrecognised by the training body’s that matter – TTS and WTS.

Be mindful MORE is not necessarily better:

I recently saw a young male who was experiencing a significant scalp reaction to the Minoxidil product he was being supplied.

He was understandably unhappy with his red, itching and scaling scalp – and lack of results…

Allegedly the salesman denied it could be the Minoxidil – but his solution to this unhappy client:

ANOTHER ‘intensive’ laser therapy course (LLLT) – at this young man’s expense of course – 55 minutes of laser therapy every TWO weeks.

In my experience as a laser therapy educator and experienced Practitioner, I cannot understand the logic of this. Fifty-five minutes is much too long for a single session and has the potential to be harmful to one’s eyes or the stimulation of an undiagnosed brain tumour  – or at the very least – hair growth ‘regressive’.

Second weekly is less than the usual ‘maintenance protocol’ of once weekly. It’s as if the time and duration were randomly arrived at to appease the client – which I suspect it was***

And finally … WHY do I bother writing expose’ Posts like this – knowing it will infuriate certain CEO’s and National SALES Managers  – and bring down upon me their not inconsiderable legal muscle..?

Although the services I offer and what they offer do overlap – I no more see them as ‘competitors’ than a Physician would a Faith Healer.

I see my role as one to identify the nature of the client’s problem, investigate and establish the triggering cause/s of the problem and advise the client what can be done to correct the problem.

I do NOT  see my role as one of  ‘selling’ my clients some ‘one treatment fits all’ hair loss program.

I do it because I believe I understand the nuances of scalp hair growth disturbance – and what it signifies as an early indicator of changing internal health – which these ‘sales-driven’ companies – or the ‘trichologists’ & even Doctors they employ – never seem to grasp.

Already this year I have seen patients presenting with thinning scalp hair density from which testing has revealed: anaemia, Vitamin D/Iodine deficiency – both of which increases a woman’s long term risk to breast disease; Pituitary tumour, bowel cancer, Coeliac Disease, Autoimmune thyroiditis as well as numerous other ‘scarring’ + non-scarring autoimmune scalp conditions, and gut parasites (Blastocystis + D. fragilis).

I do it for the 22yo young man I spoke of above; he didn’t need the further expense of yet another laser program – he informs me he’d already paid in excess of $5000 for ‘treatments’.

He needed a qualified, experienced Practitioner to recognise he was having a reaction to the Minoxidil topical solution – and his nails, acne and scalp were indicating Zinc deficiency (an essential nutrient for hair growth).

I do it because if you parade yourself as a hair loss “expert” and hold out your hand for payment – you should know what you’re talking about – and be able to offer something more than the client can readily purchase for themselves.

I do it because I hear the stories from Clients who’ve spent thousands $$$; wasted time & all but given up hope of finding ‘someone’ who has the professional expertise to investigate thoroughly & treat them effectively. I might add here this is not confined to commercial hair loss companies but regrettably the medical profession as well. To the ‘Professor’ concerned: anemia, Iodine & Zinc deficiency are NOT corrected by giving a Woman a prescription for a combined oral minoxidil/spironolactone capsule – but by repleting her anemia, Iodine & Zinc deficiency.

And finally – I do it because I have a passion for this field that goes way beyond earning a living from it – and I resent Trichology’s 110 year old reputation being sullied by the ‘salesmen’ who see it as a way to make easy money****

*A web search will readily reveal that some advertising claims made here are NOT permitted in the UK.

** In a later Post I’ll explain why “double your hair density” would in REAL terms be almost impossible to achieve without undertaking a hair transplantation procedure.

*** My previous Post ‘Re-discovering the Benefits of Laser Therapy’ will advise on the accepted laser therapy treatment sessions + duration.

**** ‘Fat Sam’ – that greedy, unethical + amoral parasite I thought I’d helped Fair Trading get rid of is still around – now operating in the Sydney’s inner West. His ‘special curries’ caused at least one person to be hospitalised; brought untold financial, physical (as severe allergic reactions + scalp damage) and emotional misery to many others.

Postscript to this Post: I would urge any prospective customers of Shayne or Ashlee (especially ‘Ashlee’) to obtain a FULL explanation of what “guaranteed” means. Former female clients I now consult ALL report NO refund (or return of products allowable) after they experienced adverse side-effects from the Minoxidil Retinoic Aid (Retin A*) topical solution they were provided. One of these ladies also experienced an adverse reaction from the oral contraceptive they say they were ‘pressured’ to take …. $2,500 down the drain for a young family who could ill afford it. *Minoxidil Retin A solution will frequently cause scalp itchiness, flaking and INCREASED facial body hair in females who use it.

Disclaimer: ‘Shayne’ and  ‘Ashlee’ are purely fictional characters and bear NO resemblance to any person alive, cosmetically re-built or dead … any resemblance is purely coincidence…(perhaps….)