• Explainer

12 Common Placebo Products That Don't Actually Do Anything

It pays to be an informed consumer - literally. You can save big money by being aware of outrageous product claims, or even subtle claims that are insidiously deceptive. Sometimes, there are products that don't work as advertised, and the only way you can combat scam products is by being aware of what you're buying.

And just because a celebrity is backing a product doesn't necessarily give it validity. Such was the case with Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke backing Skechers Shape-ups, the shoes that supposedly toned your legs merely by walking around in them. Many angry customers and a $40 million lawsuit later, and Skechers is probably wishing they hadn't made quite so many outlandish claims.

The general rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true (like "fat burning" body wraps), it usually is. But what about something as innocuous sounding as rental car insurance? That's where it pays off to do your research because standard auto insurance will provide coverage for rental cars a solid 95% of the time.

Read on to discover some surprising placebo products so you don't fall prey to false claims!
  • Skechers Shape-ups

    Photo: You2ubeTeasers / YouTube

    Skechers advertised that its "Shape-ups shoes would help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs, and abdominal muscles,” and their ads featured celebs Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke. Yet they had to pay out a $40 million lawsuit to angry customers because the shoes didn't work as advertised.

    None of Skechers's claims about the benefits of Shape-ups were supported by scientific evidence. 

  • The Shake Weight

    Photo: SNL

    Not only does the Shake Weight look more than slightly NSFW, it's also ineffective. You're better off saving yourself the embarrassment and just using a regular dumbbell. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, a regular dumbbell was found to be much more effective than the Shake Weight.

    Those outrageous claims that the Shake Weight is "seven times more effective" are pure nonsense. 

  • Airborne

    Photo: Airborne

    Think Airborne helps protect you from colds by boosting your immune system? Think again. Airborne settled a class-action lawsuit for $23.3 million over their claims that their product could help prevent colds. Save your money wash your hands more often instead.

  • Weight Loss Wraps

    Photo: FITWorks

    You've likely seen ads for these pop up at some point while scrolling through Instagram. But save your money, because it's all in the fine print: "These claims have not been clinically proven or evaluated by the FDA." That means there haven't been any clinical trials which support the claims these products make.

    To be fair, there haven't been any clinical trials that disprove their claims, either, but many experts believe that any weight loss resulting from a body wrap is temporary.