Note: This article was first published in April 2018. We updated it in 2020 with more information.
Two years ago, we noticed a sudden surge in posts on social media about a particular shampoo called the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo. The bottle looks inconspicuous enough, but it has stirred up significant hype, drama, and controversy in its brief spell in the limelight.
People have since been divided into two camps over the brand. There are those who swear by its products, particularly the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo in its ability to reverse hair loss and the WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly. Then there are those who think the whole thing is a farce.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane to find out what happened. We’ll also break down the ingredients list of these products and the claims of the brand to tell you whether it’s legit.
The rave reviews around the shampoo
The WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo’s key selling point is in how it helps with hair loss. Most authorised distributors feature screenshots of rave reviews they have received from purported customers about the efficacy of the shampoo.
These screenshots, if genuine, appear to show customers who are satisfied with the quick-acting and dramatic results of the Pure Ginger Shampoo. It appears to have helped them in reducing their hair fall, improving their hair texture, and generally improving their scalp health.
There are some more outlandish claims, screenshots of which were captured by Singaporean blogger and influencer Xiaxue. These screenshots appear to claim that the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo was responsible in helping an alleged customer get discharged from hospital the next day.
More screenshots see customers reviewing the efficacy of the WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly in helping them in anything from breaking out of infertility and conceiving a child, to even breast enhancement.
It is no wonder that WoWo has been making its rounds around social media, with the surge of interest and hype around it. This has also generated a lot of displeasure and disapproval, with numerous personalities speaking out and taking a stand against WoWo’s marketing system.
Xiaxue posted a series of Instagram Stories which expressed her disapproval of the WoWo marketing strategy, which she says a tweaked version of a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) scheme, typically illegal in Singapore.
She received backlash from WoWo distributors and users alike, but also received encouragement and back-up from her followers and other influencers like Sophie Willocq, who also posted a story about her stance on the saga. Xiaxue’s Instagram Stories made rounds with her followers, and she’s made it available as a Highlight – check it out here.
The image posted by Xiaxue, entirely in Chinese, has the relatively innocuous “2018 Singapore Price List” on the top, but the table in the image reveals a lot more.
The rightmost columns show a fixed and recommended sales price according to the WoWo company, which is typically sold at SGD25 for a bottle of the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo, and SGD59 for a box of the WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly, containing 10 sachets, by distributors.
The cost price of these products, however, is not fixed. Sellers are broken into tiers according to their sales performance. The less you sell, the more it’ll cost you to buy the products, which lessens your profit margin significantly. If you’ve just joined the scheme, a bottle of the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo will cost you SGD17.50 per bottle, earning you a profit of SGD7.50 for each bottle you sell.
If you are a star seller and get promoted up the tiers, the cost price for the products gets lower and lower for you only, going as low as SGD8 per bottle for a bottle of the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo. This gives you a hefty profit of SGD17 per bottle that you sell.
The WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly offers even more lucrative returns for its distributors, retailing at SGD59 per box for regular consumers, but costing top tier distributors only SGD16 to SGD18. That’s a SGD41 to SGD43 profit that these top distributors are earning for every box you buy from them.
One also cannot help but wonder exactly how much it costs the WoWo company to manufacture the Pure Ginger Shampoo or the Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly if they are able to sell it at SGD8 per bottle, and SGD16 per box of 10 sachets, to their top distributors.
There have also been negative reviews by users of the products. A source told Daily Vanity that she had recently bought the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo, the Nutritious Hair Mask, the Essential Hair Oil, and the Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly thinking that it might help with her post-pregnancy hair loss issue.
“I tried this routine for a week, and it didn’t change anything for me,” she said, a far cry from the rave reviews that claim that the Pure Ginger Shampoo had immediate benefits for their hair loss problems. “The ginger fragrance was also too strong for my liking.
“It could be because I haven’t used it long enough,” our source admitted. “The Essential Hair Oil was lightweight enough for my hair though.”
Facebook user Aldora Muses has also written a very long post slamming the brand for its lack of transparency, and disputing some of the brand’s claims. Check out her full post here.
We investigate the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo
On the website, the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo is listed as being “highly concentrated with natural ingredients extract contents [sic]”. It retails for SGD25 for 300ml.
The next paragraph gets a little tenuous. The brand claims that the shampoo is “suitable for pregnant ladies, children, elderly, woman, man and basically for everyone [sic]”.
Most shampoos on the consumer market are already suitable for the above groups, since they’re not ingested and don’t come into contact with your skin for more than a few minutes each time you use it.
Ginger extract actually suppresses hair growth
To its credit, after its chemical surfactants, the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo does list Zingiber officianale root extract (or ginger) in its ingredient list as the ingredient with the next highest concentration. However, does it really encourage hair growth?
A study conducted by Chinese scientists, funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China, and published in the US National Library of Medicine aimed to investigate the usefulness of ginger (Zingiber officianale) in reducing hair loss and promoting hair growth, acknowledging its popularity in hair care products. They isolated the active ingredient in ginger, 6-gingerol, and tested it on mice and cultured human hair follicles.
Their result was shocking. 6-gingerol was not only found to have no effect in promoting hair growth, it was in fact shown to suppress hair growth.
This means that instead of making your hair grow out faster, it actually slows down the natural rate of hair growth in your follicles.
That’s a plot twist we didn’t expect, considering the main ingredients list on the website strongly promoted Ginger as a hair growth stimulant.
Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and its active ingredient can be used to decrease pain and inflammation when absorbed into the skin, according to this study. However, there are no studies to back up its role in preventing cold and flu when it’s being applied on your skin and scalp, though ginger is commonly used in edible home remedies for that purpose.
In summary: A clinical trial has concluded that the active ingredient in ginger extract actually slows and stops hair growth, rather than encourage it. However, the trial did do it on cultured human hair follicles and mice, rather than on actual human test subjects.
Meanwhile, there seem to be a large pool of anecdotal evidence that WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo does help with hair fall and hair loss. We’ll say that this one is really up to your own judgement.
Is it really “natural formula”?
It might be interesting to note that the official website doesn’t disclose the full ingredients list on most of their products, including the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo. Instead, they opt for an informal “main ingredients” list as below, emphasising its more ‘natural’ ingredients but completely ignoring the presence of synthetic chemicals that consist of a large proportion of the formula:
In order to verify the truth of these claims, we managed to find a picture of the label on the bottle. The ingredients list is also available on ingredients safety website, CosDNA.
Here’s a zoomed-in version of the ingredients list:
After water, the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo (apparently not so pure in ginger after all) uses the highest concentration (after water) of a synthetic chemical named Cocamidopropyl betaine, which is used to dissolve oils and clean skin (or scalp).
According to a scientific abstract on the ingredient from the US National Library of Medicine, Cocamidopropyl betaine has been seeing increased usage in cosmetic and hygiene products, but it has also been causing more irritation and allergic reactions on the skin, causing it to be named Allergen of the Year 2004.
Following Cocamidopropyl betaine in concentration are two sulphates, Ammonium laureth sulfate and Ammonium lauryl sulfate. Sulphates are commonly used in cleansing products to produce foam and dissolve oils, but the more common variant, Sodium laureth sulphate, has gotten a bad rap in recent years for causing drying to the hair and scalp.
Ammonium laureth sulfate is recognised as being gentler and milder than Sodium laureth sulfate, and doesn’t dry out your hair as much. Cosmetics Ingredients Review has stated that both Ammonium and Sodium laureth sulfate are innately harmless.
So while the inclusion of these ingredients in the shampoo in such big proportions aren’t necessarily bad, it does make us raise an eyebrow when the brand claims that the shampoo is “natural formula” and of “natural quality”.
This is one of the advertisements used by the brand, claiming that it is “natural quality” with “no additives”:
The brand is careful to state that it does not contain “petroleum-based surfactant [sic]”.
A surfactant is any type of chemical that acts as a detergent to break up oils. Cocamidopropyl betaine, Ammonium laureth sulfate, and Ammonium lauryl sulfate, the three ingredients that are present in WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo in the highest concentrations after water, are all considered as surfactants.
The brand also claims that it does not contain parabens, which are used as preservatives in products to extend shelf life. While there are no parabens in the formula, there are other preservatives present, like Piroctone olamine and Phenoxyethanol.
Phenoxyethanol, in particular, has been a popular ingredient for brands to include preservatives in their formula, but still be able to use the buzz phrase “no parabens” on their marketing campaigns. The ingredient, however, is a potential irritant.
In summary: WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo contains a high concentration of synthetic chemical ingredients like Cocamidopropyl betaine, Ammonium laureth sulfate, and Ammonium lauryl sulfate, more so than the plant-derived ingredients on the list.
Although these ingredients may cause allergic reactions and irritation in those who are sensitive, they are also very, very widely used in a majority of body and hair care products on the market. Unless you’ve specifically searched for those without, you are most likely already using a shower gel or shampoo containing one or all of those ingredients, or something similar.
It is true that Ammonium laureth sulfate is generally seen as gentler and milder on the skin than Sodium laureth sulfate.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the addition of these chemicals in a shampoo, although it does make WoWo’s marketing their shampoo as being “natural formula” and “natural quality” a little suspect. It is further exacerbated by the fact that, instead of disclosing their full ingredients list on their website, they opt to highlight the shampoo’s plant-derived components as its “main ingredients” with no allusion to the synthetic chemicals also present.
Having no silicones doesn’t make it a miracle product
The official website, as well as the FAQs for the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo, also places a strong emphasis on its silicone-free nature.
Silicones have also recently been vilified in consumer culture, not so much because of the damage it poses to the environment, but because it is an emollient that is difficult to rinse off with water, and may accumulate on your hair strands over time. This may cause your hair to look flatter with less volume.
As with everything, silicones aren’t 100% bad. There are some hair types that may benefit from them, such as those with thick, frizzy hair.
According to its ingredients list, WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo does live up to its claim that it does not contain silicones, so that’s a point in their favour. However, they make many other claims about the benefits that you can derive from this absence of silicones.
The brand lists down what the shampoo is apparently supposed to help with. It “helps in hair loss, balding, dandruff, entangle hair, oily scalp and itchiness [sic]”.
It is true that your hair will “shed residue” because shampoo and its ingredients can get accumulated on the shaft of our hair strands if they’re difficult to rinse off with water. This is especially so with silicone-based hair products, as noted by WoWo.
However, the claim that WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo helps your hair to “detox itself of the chemical cuticle coating each strand’s surface” is tenuous. Firstly, the chemicals (we’re assuming that they are referring to silicones) coating your hair is not to be confused with your natural hair cuticle, which is important in how smooth and shiny your hair feels.
Secondly, your hair does not “detox itself” – the silicone coating your hair is simply washed off with each successive time you rinse and shampoo it, and this process is helped along with the presence of the chemical surfactants present in the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo. You’re basically fighting chemicals with chemicals here.
Furthermore, if you switched to any other silicone-free shampoo, the effect will be the same. The silicones coating your hair will be washed off in just about the same way as it will with the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo.
Lastly, the shampoo claims that it will help your scalp “start to balance out oil production”, which has really nothing to do with silicones. We assume that it is due to the apparent presence of “Avocado” which regulates hair oil.
However, if we look back at the ingredients list on the box, or you can check the clearer list available on CosDNA, there is actually no sign of avocado or its extracts:
Anyway, there is also no evidence to show that avocado, when applied to the skin, can help to regulate oil production. The most we can hope for is that it might hydrate your skin, which will then naturally regulate your oil production – but this is a moot point since the ingredients list does not contain avocado anyway.
Finally, the brand claims that it’s normal for your hair to feel dry after using the shampoo.
Silicones work by coating your hair, which gives it a smooth, slippery feeling, and the absence of this can cause your hair to feel coarser after you switch to a silicone-free formula. However, if your natural hair texture is frizzy and coarse to begin with, there is probably nothing much that can be done, as this reviewer discovered.
Naturally, WoWo recommends that you use their Essential Hair Mask in order to “[repair] dry and damaged hair”, although whether the hair mask actually contains silicones (which many hair masks do) is a mystery. The website does not disclose the ingredients of the hair mask and it is not available on CosDNA.
It is notable, however, that the product page for the WoWo Essential Hair Mask is conspicuously lacking the proclamation that it is free of silicones.
The conclusion? It is true that silicones may indeed accumulate on your hair strands, making your hair look flatter and more lifeless. They may also require harsher detergents in your shampoos to wash off, which may then lead to drier scalp. There are, however, some hair types that may actually benefit from having silicones in their shampoo.
WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo does not contain silicones, and thus if you use it long enough, it will certainly help to rinse your hair of any accumulated silicones (if you have been using a silicone-based hair product before), which make it seem more voluminous and bouncier. However, this fact in itself does not make it any different from any other silicone-free shampoo on the market.
The WoWo FAQs make a number of claims about the benefits of the silicone-free nature of the shampoo, most of which appear to be unfounded. For example, your hair does not “detox” itself just because you are using a silicone-free shampoo. Neither does a silicone-free shampoo help to regulate your scalp’s oil production.
Reviewers who have reported a lighter, less oily scalp after using the shampoo is likely to be experiencing the sensation of not having silicone-coated hair strands. Silicones coat the hair to make it smoother and shinier, but when it accumulates, it can make your hair and scalp feel oilier and heavier.
We investigate the WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly
With no preamble, the product page immediately introduces the long, long list of ailments and conditions that the collagen jelly is supposedly able to help with:
The collagen powder, which is presumably to be mixed with water and drunk, is said to help with:
- Anti-ageing (possible)
- Breast enhancement (?!)
- Stabilising menstrual cycle (probably not)
- Radiant and supple skin (possible)
- Lightening acne scars (highly doubtful)
- Lightening stretch marks (highly doubtful)
Out of the entire list, the only claims that are really worth looking at are its potential benefits in anti-ageing and achieving radiant, supple skin.
We all know that collagen is found underneath your skin layers and having a good collagen supply will help your skin to look younger, plumper, and more hydrated. Your body produces collagen naturally, but its production decreases with age.
Many oral supplements like the WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly claims to be able to enhance your body’s collagen supply. However, collagen is too big a molecule to be absorbed directly in your gut – it has to be broken down into amino acids first.
Scientists still can’t agree as to how much eating collagen can help with the plumpness of your skin, and if there are any positive effects, whether it is significant enough to justify the high price tag (the WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly costs SGD59 for 10 packets).
The general consensus in the scientific community is that leading a healthier lifestyle, like eating a balance diet and drinking enough water a day, is far more effective in looking younger for longer than eating collagen supplements.
Collagen also comes in many different forms – for example, the fluid between your joints is made of a different type of collagen to the type found in your skin layers. The type of collagen you’re eating will affect what you’re targeting.
For the WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly, we are unable to find out exactly what type of collagen it contains and in what concentrations. As usual, the website does not disclose the full ingredients list.
In summary: Experts still cannot agree on whether taking collagen by mouth will help in increasing your body’s overall supply of collagen. Even if it does, the exact type of collagen that you’re consuming will matter – a different type of collagen may only help with the fluid between your joints, instead of the ones under your skin that help it retain elasticity.
The WoWo Singapore website does not provide a full or detailed list of the ingredients inside the WoWo Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly, which means it’s impossible for potential customers to research further on the ingredients found within. We are not able to find out the concentration or the type of collagen the product uses.
Assuming the best circumstances, collagen may only help with skin elasticity (making you look younger with more hydrated, healthier-looking skin), and perhaps acne blemishes and stretch marks (although the latter two are unlikely to be aided by collagen).
We were unable to find any scientific studies to prove that it could help with breast enhancement, improving sleep, stabilising the menstrual cycle, and every other claim that WoWo makes.
We already know that the shampoo is manufactured in Guangzhou, China, and we also know that most of our everyday household items are manufactured in China.
WoWo, however, strongly-worded their stance: “It is not prudent to conclude China products are bad [sic]”. They also claim that the brand has “passed HSA’s checks”.
We went onto the HSA website and found Wowo products in the Cosmetic Products Notification List. You can search it for yourself here but here’s a screenshot of the search results.
However, we have to take note that this only means that the sellers have notified HSA about the sale of the products, and does not mean that HSA has done any checks or inspections to endorse the safety of the products. Here’s what HSA says on its website:
Nonetheless, we have dropped HSA an enquiry about Wowo claiming that they have passed HSA’s checks, and will update this article once we get a response from the authority.
Looking at the ingredients list of the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo, it does not seem like a shampoo that would cause any harm to its users. The synthetic chemicals present in it are very commonly used in the market. In fact, it’s not a bad choice if you’re looking for a shampoo that is free from silicones (which may cause flat, lifeless hair in many hair types), or free from parabens.
Ammonium laureth sulfate, present in the WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo, is also supposed to be a gentler cleanser than the much more common sodium laureth sulfate, which is probably present in large amounts in the shampoos and body gels you’ve been using for your whole life. All things considered, WoWo Pure Ginger Shampoo might be a good choice for those looking for a gentle shampoo without the ‘nasty’ ingredients.
We wouldn’t advise you to expect anything further from it though. Its claims of the benefits that it can deliver and its “natural formula” are most probably highly exaggerated, but then it is entirely viable to simply attribute this to marketing tactics that every other brand on the market would constantly employ in their own promotional campaigns. It is questionable whether the shampoo can be proved to reverse hair loss.
WoWo does not disclose a full and proper ingredients list of its other products, which includes the Nutritious Hair Mask which is supposed to be used in conjunction with the shampoo. It certainly raises an eyebrow that the product page for the Nutritious Hair Mask has nothing on its being ‘free of silicones’ as it does on the product page of the Pure Ginger Shampoo.
It leads us to strongly suspect that there are silicones in the Hair Mask, which may cause hair to feel silky-smooth after application, but may later weigh it down after it accumulates. Not to mention, if the Hair Mask contains silicones and is used together with the Pure Ginger Shampoo, it negates the potential benefit of the shampoo in ridding your hair of a coating of silicone.
The unavailability of an ingredients list is especially troubling for consumables like the Moshu Cubilose Collagen Jelly. More caution should be taken by consumers when it comes to purchasing and ingesting consumable supplements, as anything ingested orally will have a greater and more lasting impact on your health should something go awry.
The MLM-like pyramid scheme that WoWo is being distributed in Singapore may also go against the grain for many consumers here, but this is subjective and up to your own discretion and judgement.