HeadOn Headache Product Potentially Dangerous

The active ingredient in HeadOn, a roll-on headache treatment, is potassium dicromate, which is used in developing photos and should not come into contact with skin, according to Larry Newman, MD, director of the Roosevelt Headache Institute in Manhattan.

HeadOn is an OTC product and is subject to much less regulation than prescription drugs. In fact, I’m not sure if it is regulated at all.

If you’re a HeadOn user looking for an alternative, some other products offer similar topical headache relief. My favorite is Origins’ Peace of Mind on-the-spot treatment.

[via About.com’s headache page]

Update, 5/6/07: This site is not affiliated with HeadOn, I’m just reporting on what I’ve read. For more information, here are a couple follow-up posts:

Information of HeadOn’s Harmful Active Ingredient

HeadOn Retraction?


73 Responses to “HeadOn Headache Product Potentially Dangerous”

  1. frank wells Says:


    I’ll count myself lucky that I’ve never seen it!


  2. Joe Knight Says:

    The absolutely, positively most irritating commercial I have ever heard. They have shut down their website…I wonder why?

    Dr. Peterson mentioned in her e-mail that the site had been taken down, but it still loads for me. Hmm.


  3. JSS Says:

    Amen… Amen… Amen… Yes, The Most Irritating TV Commercial I’ve Seen… It Gives Me A Headache, Just Listening To It. Trying to Find Their Phone # To Complain


    I’ve got to find this commercial somewhere online!

    Here’s an e-mail address: info@headon.com and phone number: (877) 373-3436. If other people can’t view their site than maybe they are shutting their doors permanently, thus ending the commercials.


  4. JSS Says:

    Just Found Their Contact Info… Call Them… eMail Them: Both HeadOn & Freedhem Hemorrhoidal Cream Distibuted by Miralus Health Care:
    866.647.2587 Wholesale Line (Answered)
    877.373.3436 Consumer Line (Answering Machine)
    514.845.6663 Fax Line
    Info@Freedhem.com (Mailbox Full… Interesting)

    What’s wrong with this Post – Some moderator (I presume) deleted it earlier today.

  5. PAUL LOBEL Says:

    The Headon commercial is just an attempt at brainwashing. I couldn’t figure out what it was for until I looked it up on the internet. I’m sure it’s totally useless

  6. Raymond Says:

    I see that commercial every morning on CNN Headline news and it gives me a headache every time it airs. I am looking into starting a class action suit against them because their commercial causes pain and suffering.

  7. Josh Killian Says:

    Thanks for the contact info guys… I just called them and cussed out the poor girl who answered the phone. But hey, guilty by association right? 9mm apply directly to the forehead, 9mm apply directly to the forehead, 9mm app………

  8. FROSTY Says:


  9. Gigi Says:

    I hope that stupid company racks up so much debt from all the TV ads and never sells a tube of that crap. That ad should be against the law cause its brain washing and subliminal advertising.

  10. Ken Clay Says:

    The worst, most irritating commercial ever. I hope anyone with the least side effect from their crap sues their ass.

  11. S. Says:

    I am so freaking annoyed with the commercial that I change the channel as soon as I see it – I would NEVER buy their product just because of their commercial

  12. Ed Stern Says:

    This product probably works very well! Most winners get the most bad press! An indication of success.

  13. Irene Says:

    I just want to know how much they paid the ad agency for the ad? What genius! To give everyone a headache and want to throw a hammer through the TV set. Amazing! I’m sure they got their monies worth – if they spent $1.25

  14. Danielle Says:

    Gosh!! That commercial had incredibly managed to be more retarded than that Quiznos sandwiche commerical. Man, those guitar-playing rodents gave me nightmares!
    Now everytime I see that Head On commercial, I give my TV the finger.

  15. SANDI Says:




  16. Norma Macomber Says:

    The dumbest, most idiotical commercial ever….who the hell knew what it was for????

  17. Sally Says:

    I didn’t know the purpose of “Head On” because I would cover my ears and run out of the room. I felt I needed blood pressure medication after being subjected to this commercial! I would NEVER buy their product!!!

  18. James Says:

    Another homeopathic piece of junk. The active ingredient only makes up 1 part in 1,000,000,000,000 parts. Divide that by 100 aplications accrding to the package and you may as well rub wax on yur head. You’re getting a molecule of active ingredient.
    Know how it works? You rub it on….wait….eventually your headache goes away. Must have been the HeadOn.

  19. JK Says:

    Ha Ha, I just ordered a tube of it. I appreciate the camp factor, and I’m giving it to my roommate, who also hates the commercial

  20. Horse Badorties Says:

    The commercial is pure genius.

  21. Bob the Builder Says:

    Check out this hillarious parody of the stupid, annoying commercial: http://applytoforehead.ytmnd.com/

  22. caroline Says:

    That commercial just sucks! First of all, who really knows what’s in it? Ther’re trying to sell us a relief medication for headaches when they’re at the moment giving us one! Is that really what they call making business? I’m not pretty sure of that and briefly, my opinion of all this is that the product is simply scrap and bullshit and the company is not carrying about the people around them who have to suffer their commercial…I just hate it!

  23. david Says:

    advertising pepole know that stupid sells and with this product they figured stupid would sell the stupid the comercial is on the list for most iratateing and stupid comercials.in my book its number 1 on that list it don’t even tell you what the product is and the perpous it is used for!!!!!!

  24. Kerrie Says:

    Thanks for all the comments. The commercial is so annoying, but people sure pay attention to it!


  25. Linda Says:

    I keep waiting for “PainInTheAssOn” Hemorrhoid treatment…it can’t be far behind. The original commercial actually did say that HeadOn provided “Fast, Effective Headache Relief”, but the Better Business Bureau made the company delete that part of the commercial because they had no proof that HeadOn worked. I can’t find any information on what the ingredients are, so I’m very skeptical.

    That’s hilarious!

    The commercial may have been even more effective without the headache clarification than it was without it.


  26. Jim Dunlap Says:

    The most repetitive, ridiculous, irritating, repulsive, repugnant, boring commercial in my experience. I would never buy any of your products.

  27. SJones Says:

    Perfect reply to Head-On commercial:

    I must admit, you brought Religion into my life.
    I never believed in Hell until I saw your commercial.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    my wife is pregnant and we watch wheel of fortune nightly. Unfortunaley HeadOn is a sponsor. Every time this annoying commercial comes on she feels like vomitting. Do you plan on developing a product called “keepthevomitin?”

  29. Dr. Feelgood Says:

    Definitely the most irritating commercial in history. I’d rather have a headache than try that crap.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    You deserve to blow a blood vessel if the commercial irritates you so much. It’s hilarious! I just saw the new version of it and I couldn’t stop laughing.

    Time to lighten up. Unless you really enjoy your daily headaches.

    HeadOn® Apply directly to your forehead.
    HeadOn® Apply directly to your forehead.
    HeadOn® Apply directly to your forehead.

  31. B. Michaels Says:

    Their theory is an old one–drive it into our heads enough, and we’ll remember it at the drugstore and buy it based on name recognition alone. Unfortunately, it has pissed me off enough that I will not even consider buying or trying it (Isn’t that an immature response for a retired college professor?). I’m not going to support a firm that uses a deliberately obnoxiously and repetitive advertisement. Period!

  32. david opasik Says:

    HEAD ON. The commercial prompts head pain which then makes you search out the product to stop the pain. After the pain subsides, you hate yourself for giving in to the mesmerism. CNN is the only place I see it. Shame on you CNN.

  33. Beth Says:

    The commercial may be annoying but the product truly works. I get regular headaches and migranes. Before the commercial started I saw the product in the store and thought hell I’ll try anything I was amazed that it actually worked.

  34. Beth Says:

    The commercial may be annoying but the product truly works. I get regular headaches and migranes. Before the commercial started I saw the product in the store and thought hell I’ll try anything I was amazed that it actually worked.

  35. warren Says:

    I tried this product and it works. Your complaints about the comercial gave me the headache! This happens to be alien technology brought to us from light years away but never mind you couldn`t understand.

  36. Carol Says:

    Since I tivo my shows allowing me to fast forward through the commercials, I never heard of the product and therefore had no bias. Could the commercials be that bad? Yesterday a coworker offered it to me after I got a migraine at work. If you suffer from migraines, you know you’ll try anything for relief. I’ve had migraines since kindergarten (I’m 42) and taken every Rx and over the counter product for headaches. As you can imagine I’m a skeptic yet I was amazed at how quickly it took the edge off. By the time I got home, though the pounding was back. My husband ran to the store and bought some and I had the best night sleep in a long time. Try it yourself and decide. Don’t let the jerks who knock the commercial rob you of peace.

  37. janice Says:

    I buy tiger balm for a couple dollars in chinese stores in chinatown and have been putting it on the temples of my head for years when I get a bad headache- it works great cause of the menthol and is so cheap! It’s been used in China and Asia to treat headaches for a long time and is completely safe. I wouldn’t buy headon based on the annoying migraine-inducing commercial itself, especially when tiger balm has been around for ages.

    Thanks for the great suggestion. It’s not something that I’ve tried. I’m so glad that it helps you.


  38. Sandip Says:

    I come from India, and we have used Tiger Balm, and another brand – Monison’s – for years.

    The products are work great to relieve any kind of headache / bodyache.

    Yes, the commercials are a nuisance, but that’s their marketing strategy. People remember the product because the commercials are so annoying!


    Thanks for your input; I’ve never heard of Monison’s before.

    I agree that the marketing strategy is brilliant!


  39. vv Says:

    tried it in my fish bowl and they all passed on.

  40. jane Says:

    You do have a most annoyng ad, but the most annoying part is that you do not know how to pronounce “forehead”. Check your dictionary. My high school English teacher always quoted this little nursery rhyme to remind us how to pronounce “forehead”: There was a little girl who had a little curl
    Right in the middle of her forehead.
    When she was good she was very, very good,
    But when she was bad, she was horrid!

  41. Teri Says:

    OMG do you people who are bitching about the commercial have LIVES much less ever had a MIGRAINE? Until you have, shut the u know what up and let those of us who DO truly suffer pain try ANYTHING to relieve it…annoying ad or NOT.
    Go and get a life, and let us have some PEACE.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    Even though the commercial is annoying, the repetitiveness gets it drilled into your head so you don’t forget about it. I love HeadOn

  43. JJ in Montana Says:

    I first got head-on from an Avon catalogue (before the commercials came out) and loved it! I have headaches all the time that aren’t quite migraines but hurt like hell any way and nothing and I do mean nothing helps. I was taking up to four advil and four tylnal at the same time (can’t do asprin) and the headache still didnt go away. I’ve even tryed Tiger Balm which I use for all the other aches and pains but it didn’t do a thing for my headaches. I put head-on on and in less than 5 minutes my headache starts to go away, most times I don’t even have to reapply at all that day! Despite the anoying comercial, this product really does work and it works very well! While in Cali on vacation I had the worst headache ever, it bordered on a migraine, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity and all, my cousin had extra strength head-on in her purse and gave some to me and with in a few minutes it was gone and I was able to eat my breakfast with out feeling sick.
    Just because you don’t like the commercial – Don’t dismiss the power of this product until you’ve tried it. My cousin and I swear by this stuff.

  44. Randy O Says:

    I haven’t been able to watch a complete TV program since their BUTT-ON & HEAD-ON ads started. When I see an ad starting, my hand flies for the remote and I change channels to avoid the deadly mind numbing, and never go back until I see another BUTT-ON commercial starting, then grab the remote and change channels again.

  45. D.B. COOPER Says:


  46. JANICE Says:

    I am going to patent my own product and it will be called “HARD ON” I think we’ll all know where to apply that. Ha! Ha!
    I had a headache several days last week and
    I consiered buying HEAD ON but now that I read what I have I will not be buying it but
    look for my product on drug store shelves in the near future.

  47. Troy Owen Says:

    No one ever wants to admit thier a sucker; cutting one’s nose off despite the face is also an ailment. If you look at these sucker’s medicine cabinets, you’ll find all kinds of cheap snake oil products they bought into beause they could’nt afford the real stuff.

    Damn I need to come up with a gimic to take money from stupid people.

    WAKE UP! Anything used to develop film is not anything I would want to intentionally rub into my skin; neither are all the other bs all natural remedies “nutraceuticals.” It’s all hype man. You know, poisen ivy is all natural. All natural doesn’t mean “non harmful” but it does mean “never tested”

    The king of all scammers like this is Trudow. This ex-con, laughs his butt to sleep every night.

    Oh yeah, to the person that came up with the HardOn idea, can you send me a sample. Ha Ha

  48. LW Says:

    Unless you live with migraines you should not comment. This product does work, but you must use it on on-set. If your migraine is too far gone, you should use product plus your migraine meds. As soon as I feel one coming on, I use it and it goes away. Having my life back means everything to me. I hope more studies are done on this product. Thank you HeadOn!

  49. Kristy Says:

    I’ve tried Head-On and it works but only temporarily. Then the headache comes back full force. I’m hoping it’s not addicting.

    I don’t think any topical treatment for headaches has the potential to cause rebound headaches, but I’m not positive.


  50. Anna Woolsey Says:

    I have bad migraine constantly or I should say I did. I started using HeadOn about 3 mnths ago and it worked like a charm. If I catch it at the start and apply it then and take your normal 2 Advil dose I’m actually pretty great for the day. Now for all of those of you in chronic migraine land we all know that more them half the time we have bring out the big guns (percription meds) and can spend over half the day running from light. My migraines have cut down to a quarter and I definetly contribute that to head on

    I’m glad to hear it works for you!


  51. yvette Says:

    i had a terriable reaction to this product. a small amount got on my hand & i had scratched on kneck with the same hand ,,, that’s when my entire neck & part of my face swelled up within seconds!it is still a bit swollen and hard as a rock. i can’t even describe how painful it is rite now !

    That sounds awful! I hope it didn’t take long to clear up.


  52. mary kohrs Says:

    Your revised commercials are even worse than the originals,if that’s possible.
    The Nobel Peace Prize award ought to go to the man who invented the “mute” button on my remote. That is truly peace, when your commercials come on

    Just for the record, this blog is in no way connected to HeadOn! I have nothing to do with the terrible commercials. 🙂


  53. Aaron Murray Says:

    Head on is a homeopathic product and the potassium dicromate is diluted to the point that it doesnt even exist anymore. In case you didnt know,thats oneof the two main priciples of homeopathy,i.e,the more dilute the stronger it works. I dont make this shit up,it’s their idea. You cant overdose,or become addicted to them because there is NOTHING in them. Rubbing candle wax has the same effect on you that Head On does.

  54. Granny Says:

    Where do you guys come from? The Better Business Bureau does NOT control commercial content in this country! Good grief! The ingredients are listed all over the internet and if you can’t use a computer call any pharmacist and ask! I see that those people who HAVE ACTUALLY USED THE PRODUCT are endorsing it even here. THANKS FOR THE INFO I am going to go out this afternoon and buy it~! Commercials do not make any product but this website has convinced me it probably works really well because only the uninformed ignorant smart-alecks are against it. THANKYOU!

  55. Bruce Says:

    For a Company that is selling an OTC medication that believes that Don Imus would harm your reputation, you should begin to understand this.

    Now that Imus is not on MSNBC, your commercials are cheaper. Because the audience is less than half it was.

    Your marketing stinks and would never use a chemical that is used to develop photographs. Your medication is “Quack” medicine.

  56. Headache guy Says:

    Here’s the statement from Dr. Newman (cited in the first place) where he says that at the concentration levels this product contains none of the ingredients are harmful. You should consider updating this post to reflect this information.


    As a PS, I don’t care if it’s a placebo effect; this product works extremely well for me.

  57. Alan Young Says:

    Head On is a placebo effect, if you believe it will work it works. For headaches my doctor has recommended Sinol, a new all natural nasal spray that relieves my headache in minutes. Best used when your headache first begins. You can buy it at CVS. Sinol is really something and I can take it with my high cholesterol medication.

  58. Jrew Says:

    The people at HeadOn are very smart. The ad may be annoying, but you remember it don’t you? They got to you, and now you can’t get them out of your head. If you read this, or comment on this you must know you have been targeted successfully.

    I’m with you!


  59. David Lassmann Says:

    I was investigating this product out of curiosity. The headon.com website is still active.

    Active Ingredients: Blue Flag 12X HPUS 0.1% (Iris Versicolor – Pain Reliever**), Potassium Dichromate (6X H.P.U.S. 0.03% – Pain Reliever**), White Bryony (12X H.P.U.S. 0.04% – Pain Reliever**)

    Of the three active ingredients it appears that the first, Blue Flag (Iris Versicolor) might actually be of some use. The others are doubtful.

    I was wondering why this product would be taken by rolling on the skin. (The location on the body is irrelevant, the product must make it’s way into the bloodstream) I would expect that injestion would be more effective and efficient.

    In my opinion the placebo effect is probably the greater part of the benefit. Whether or not there is sufficient amounts of active ingredients to actually do anything could be determined by testing.

    In short, if it works for you well and good, if not then try something else.

    As for the ads, they are annoying, but then so are most tv ads.

  60. A Says:

    I tried this product because I had a horrible headache and was vomiting so I could not take an oral headache medication. I was actually shocked to find that Head On really did work!!! This stuff is amazing and other than the negative internet comments, everybody that I know who has tried this product swear by it. I will forever keep a tube handy ~ what an amazing product!!!!

  61. izzy Says:

    hello i used Headon for the first time a few day ago. i woke up the nexy day with my fore head so burned it was peeling and if i were sunburnt. where can i direct my complaint too.

  62. Marcus Armini Says:

    I also haven gotten sick from my horrific migraines. My sister lives in CT and also gets them, hereditary, Thanks Mom and Dad. Anyway, she goes to the New England Center for Headache and they gave her an all natural nasal spray called Sinol. I have been using it it since Christmas (got it as a gift) and this stuff is a miracle. It relieves my migraines in minutes but you have to use it when your headache first starts. I just bought my second bottle at Rite Aid Drug Store. Go try this, it is a life saver.

  63. Dan D. Says:

    I was going to comment on this product, but I cant seem to quit laughing my ass off from all the other comments that people have left. This med has seemed to work for me. my head always hurts.My wife came home one day from the store with it, she said give it a try.ya right i said.IT Worked. I did find that if you should get it on your fingers, do NOT rub your eyelids! feels like you just rubbed ben-gay on them. LMAO

  64. Cynthia Says:


    I can help you dirct your complaint. Contact me.


  65. Stephanie Says:

    I feel your pain. I used HeadOn as a last resort to get rid of a horrible headache I had had for days. I guess I accidently touched my eyelids while the stuff was still on my hands. My eyes were swollen shut within minutes. It’s been a few days, and they are still pretty swollen but not near as bad. No unwanted symptoms huh? Yeah right!

  66. killthemediaads Says:

    I hate these stupid commercials. I could care less if it does anything for anyone. There are so many jerkoffs making tv ads these days that annoy the hell out of people. Geico, Billy Mays, etc..

  67. ML Says:

    I thought this product would be a great alternative to taking ibuprofen daily for my chronic headaches. The first time I tried it, I had a rash on my forehead where I had put it. I thought maybe I had something else reacting with it so I did not use again for about 2 weeks. I tried again, and got the same rash. I could not find any number, address, or other contact, to let them know about my skin reaction. I threw it out and told my daughter (who has chronic headaches) not to use it either.

  68. Dallas Says:

    As a Hardcore Migraine sufferer who takes Zomig, Imitrex, and Topamax, I am constantly looking for something to help me with my migraines. HeadOn seemed to work at first, but I noticed it peeled the skin on my forehead and left it flaky and itchy. Every once in a while when everything else is failing I try it again, and a day later I regret it. I would highly recommend staying away from HeadOn, and I am now looking for something else.

  69. Cary Says:

    I have heard mixed reviews about Head-On but it certainly works for me!
    I get headaches that sometimes turn into migraines…but Head-On has cured me! I mainly get the pain in my eyes- it sounds weird- but the aches are usually in one eye. I’ll rub Head-On around my forehead, temple and even eye-lid and it works MIRACLES! It feels like I’m icing my head while magical, soothing medicine is eating my aches away and replacing it with a tingly, cooling sensation!
    It may not work for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it- try it. It may save you like it saved me!

  70. Patrick Says:

    HeadOn does actually work, but it’s not from the worthless homeopatic ingredients. I’m pretty sure it’s just menthol that causes the tingling/cooling sensation. It doesn’t eliminate the pain, but it does “dissociate” it so you no longer notice it nearly as much.

    The only bad things are the price and the red forehead you get if you use it too much. I’m trying to find something that contains menthol, such as VapoRub, that doesn’t irritate my skin as much with repeated use. I’ve yet to find anything that is as strong as HeadOn so far…

  71. carl england Says:

    i tried headon yesterday morning and awoke this morning with a severe burn on my forehead!
    i shudder to think what might have happened if i had accidentally gotten the product in my eyes!
    apparently the product is dangerous and people should use caution before trying to treat a headache with it. (if you are determined to use it and you have never tried it before, i would suggest you try it on a tiny spot–preferably one that can be hidden with your hair if you have an adverse reaction to it. do not do what i did and just smear it across your entire forehead without knowing what your reaction will be!)

  72. Eva B Says:

    My grandson bought a tube of HeadOn and gave it to use to us . I tried it the other day and it broke out my fore head in red blotches and blisters specially the temple areas I only used a small amount and only one time. I will never use it again . What I don’t understand is how our government can let then sell and advertise products that are harmful to use.I hope this will stop people from using HeadON .
    Thank You for listen
    Eva B

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