In our final recap of the third episode of Hairs To You, International Hair Authority CEO and Publisher Chris Webb discusses future products or techniques that can help with or combat hair loss, cloning hair, why going abroad for cheap hair transplants is not worth it, and much more!
If you prefer, you can also listen to the full episode below:
Do you have any insight on future products or techniques within the industry that we should watch out for?
Chris Webb: Many, many techniques. We've never seen so many research trials in progress. Some of them have a lot of promise, but even the ones which are showing strong results have to pass that FDA threshold, and that takes usually a couple of years, and it's hugely expensive. I think when finasteride was being tested by Merck, it took them three or four years and over $2 million of investment. So these things are exciting to watch. Even Eli Lilly, for example, has come up with a drug that was a rheumatoid arthritis drug, but it has very worrying side effects, so they have to solve those before it could even be presented to the FDA. So exciting, but a long way off.
Do you have any experience or knowledge about cloning hair for transplants?
Chris Webb: Yes. Cloning was supposed to be the silver bullet in the hair industry, and it never was. Basically people learned how to replicate hair in a petri dish. So you could take cells, you could incubate them, and you could grow them. And at that time, a number of big companies, adorans in Japan for example, created an adorans research institute to explore this. And a company in Europe also got a government grant to explore it. And they got as far as the petri dish, so you could grow hair, but if you implanted that cultivated hair, you couldn't control the angle or what they called the angularity with which it then grew. So you couldn't achieve a cosmetically acceptable result.
But let's assume that you could and you could implant it and it would grow just the way you wanted. The next question would become ethical. Who gets it? Do insurance companies cover it? And if not, is it only available for the rich? And if it's only available for rich people, what kind of halo does that create for the companies providing it? Is there going to be a backlash? So there are lots of ethical as well as FDA issues surrounding cloning.
Now, that said, there is an interesting experiment going on in the UK being headed by Dr. Bessam Farjo in Manchester, and he has created a hair bank, so you can submit your hair follicles to this bank where they'll be cryogenically frozen and held for the future. So if hair cloning does become acceptable, at some point in time in the future, you will have dynamic young, whatever teenage follicles waiting to be implanted.
There’s PRP and stem cells for hair growth. Any information on that, like if it’s working?
Chris Webb: A lot of studies, primarily the research that's going on involved stem cells, because if you could actually recreate - and people forget that the hair follicle is an organ - so if you could recreate those organs using stem cell technology, that would be the holy grail. So a lot of research going there, but although the results look promising, they're all, again, about two years off, I would think. SoI could go down a list of studies at the moment. They all have kind of biochemical names. Are they promising? Yes, a lot of them are. But then at the same time, there are lots of natural solutions which work well, which nobody has researched either.
Niacin, vitamin B absorb acid, grape seed, rosemary oil, sage, metals and hibiscus, all of those have been known through folklore to have an impact on hair growth. [There] haven't been serious studies conducted yet, though. And then there's of course, sore palmetto, which everybody knows produces results, but there is no statistically significant clinical study.
There’s also talk of onion juice helping with hair…
Chris Webb: I think the problem is that these herbal supplements and wellness products are not regulated by the FDA. They come under FTC control, but if you promote it as a healthcare product, you can get away pretty much with any claims you wish. There is no control whatsoever. So possibly, the only restricting factor would be if somebody had an adverse effect and sued you, then your reputation would be destroyed. But until that happens, you can get away with some pretty outrageous claims.
Lots of people go overseas for cheap hair transplants and there have been some horror stories involving permanent scarring. What do you think of that mentality of getting a cheaper hair transplant rather than somewhere where everything is approved by the FDA with rules in place and very good doctors?
Chris Webb: I think it's important to understand that hair transplantation is an extremely intimate procedure. Secondly, it's irreversible. And thirdly, it's on display permanently. You cannot hide from it. Given those three facts, I don't know why anybody would go to an unknown surgeon in an unknown location and take a risk. You cannot make that risk right afterwards. In fact, in the United States, the top hair transplant educational organization, the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery (IHRS) has now created a campaign to discourage people from going overseas. And they've also instituted a program to do their best to correct the errors that are made overseas. But that is both an expensive, humiliating, painful and sometimes impossible thing to do.
You have been very insightful and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to speak with you today, Chris. Anything else you want to add before we go?
Chris Webb: Only to say that I visited the Superhairpieces TikTok website just a few minutes ago and was very impressed by the fact that you just say it like it is. You don't hide what's going on. So it's a mixture of very important information about what adding hair involves and then how it can transform you. So you go from the kind of hip, ‘Don't I look terrific now?’ video to the ‘Here's how we achieve it,’ and then you meet the stylist behind it. So I thought that was an excellent mix and have to congratulate Superhairpieces for becoming contemporary and getting into TikTok.
Thank you so much for that. I'll spread the news to everybody else. Well thank you again, Chris. And can you let people know again where we can find you online?
Chris Webb: That would be www.hairauthority.com.-----
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