ASA rules vitamin and mineral–containing hair supplements breach ad code

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/
©iStock/
The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rules that claims made about a range of hair products and food supplements are misleading and unsubstantiated.

Among the offending statements to feature on Hairburst’s website, is for the product, 'Chewable Hair Vitamins', in which it states, “Zinc helps to keep hormone levels regulated and prevent and treat hair loss.”

Other statements include, “In addition to energy and red blood cell production, vitamin B-6 keeps hair healthy.  Vitamin B-6 is also important for skin health as it increases collagen production, which is necessary for healthy hair growth…”

In its ruling​, one complainant took issue with the statements challenging whether the claims for the food supplements 'Healthy Hair Vitamins', 'Chewable Hair Vitamins', 'Hair Vitamins For Women 35+', 'Hair Vitamins For Men' and 'For New Mums', breach the CAP Code.

Further issues centre on whether the ad include statements claiming to prevent, treat or cure disease, which the CAP Code prohibits.

Hairburst defence

Defending the use of claims relating to the 'Healthy Hair Vitamins' product, Hairburst provided the results of a three-month sensory perception study involving 100 adult female participants.

They also point out the product contains biotin, selenium and zinc, which has the authorised claim "contributes to the maintenance of normal hair".

Hairburst adds the 'Chewable Hair Vitamins' product contains a similar formula, which includes biotin, selenium and zinc.

It also contains vitamin B6, which they say has an authorised claim "necessary for healthy teeth, bones, hair, skin and nails".

Authorised claims

The Leeds-based firm also defend the claims used for the 'Womens 35+ Hair Vitamins' product, which they said also includes biotin, selenium and zinc.

The product also contained methylsuplony/methane, which is understood to have an authorised claim "helps in the maintenance of normal keratin levels in hair, skin and nails"​  

Womens 35+ Hair Vitamins also contains an amino acid (L-cysteine), which is understood to have the authorised claim "contributes to the maintenance of the healthy structure of hair, nails and skin".

“The 'Hair Vitamins For Men' product had a similar formula and included biotin, selenium, zinc and Vitamin B6,”​ say Hairburst in response.

“The product also contains vitamin E, which we understood to have the authorised claims, "necessary for healthy teeth, bones, hair, skin and nails," and "supports the microcirculation and the oxygenation of the scalp."

“It also contains silica which we understood has the authorised claim "helps maintain healthy hair, skin and nails/helps strengthen skin, hair and nails", and vitamin B12 which we believe has the authorised claim "necessary for healthy teeth, bones, hair, skin and nails".

EU Register of nutrition and health claims

In a similar vein, the firm say the 'For New Mums' product contains biotin, selenium and zinc and therefore contributes to the maintenance of normal hair, as well as vitamin B6.

Despite this, ASA upheld the ruling stating that only health claims listed as authorised on the EU Register of nutrition and health claims can be made in ads promoting food or food supplements.

The Authority adds that for the ingredient claims for vitamin B6, methylsupony/methane, L-cysteine, vitamin E, silica and vitamin B12 are non-authorised claims and cannot be used in advertising.

ASA say the only product ingredients that have authorised claims relating to hair were biotin, selenium and zinc. However, they consider the wording used exaggerates these authorised claims.

They add that Hairburst have not provided evidence that claims used for the ingredients contained in 'Hair Vitamins For Men' and 'Womens 35+ Hair Vitamins' are authorised on the EU Register.

“For those reasons, we concluded that the general health claims and specific health claims made for the products 'Healthy Hair Vitamins', 'Chewable Hair Vitamins', 'Womens 35+ Hair Vitamins', 'Hair Vitamins For Men' and 'For New Mums' breached the Code,” ​say ASA.

Finally, ASA points out that the CAP Code states that claims describing a food can prevent, treat or cure human disease are not acceptable in ads for foods or beverages.

“We consider that the ad implies the Chewable Hair Vitamins product can prevent, treat and cure dandruff. We conclude the ad breaches the Code. The claims must not appear again in their current form.”

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