The truth about hair testing

Do hair tests live up to the quick diagnosis of allergies that they promise?

Truth about hair testing hero default

If you believe the hype, hair testing is a quick-fire way to find out whether allergies are causing your lack of energy and general listlessness. It’s as simple as snipping a sample of your hair, sending it to the lab and waiting for the results to drop into your inbox.

When a Consumer NZ staffer sent a hair sample to online outfit Global Testing Labs, which advertises on daily deal site Groupon, the results came back claiming she was intolerant to egg yolk, fig and pork. They also showed intolerances to various plants and nylon. Out with the stockings then.

However, a second sample sent to Test Your Intolerance – owned by the same people behind Global Testing Labs – delivered a completely different set of results. No mention of egg yolk, figs or nylon this time. Instead, the report claimed she was intolerant to lettuce, white beans, brown rice, hare, green olives, green tea, and various other foods, as well as the tamarisk tree.

The report advised these foods needed to be removed from her diet and to keep any pet hare out of the bedroom.

“You should try to eliminate them all at the same time and although we understand that this can be difficult when it is something you eat on a regular basis, the sooner you eliminate them, the sooner you will see results,” the report claimed.

But, despite the report’s assertions, there’s no good evidence hair testing is a reliable way of identifying what’s ailing you. Chances are – like our staff member – you’ll get results telling you to avoid a whole host of foods when there’s no need to do so.

Companies touting hair testing as an answer to your ailments are making nice money. Standard tests can cost $100 a pop. We think they’re also preying on people’s concerns about their health.

The Commerce Commission has already put companies on notice to clean up their act. We’ll be making a complaint to the commission about the claims made by Global Testing Labs and Test Your Intolerance.

Our advice

Don’t waste your money on hair testing. If you’re worried you’re allergic to something, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and whether a skin prick test is worthwhile.

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