UPDATE (November 1, 2016, 7:56 P.M.): News just broke that the $26 million lawsuit filed against Wen by Chaz Dean (and the distributor of his line, Guthy-Renker) will be moving forward and preliminary settlement approval has been granted, according to a report from CBS Los Angeles. Translation: As a result of this class-action suit, 6 million people could be eligible to for a monetary award, from $25 up to $20,000, although a U.S. District Court judge still needs to give final approval over the settlement.
What’s more, though, is that this isn’t the end of the Wen hair care problems. Now the FDA is investigating claims of hair loss from its cleansing conditioners as well, with over 127 consumer complaints filed. That also happens to be the largest number of reports ever associated with any cosmetic hair cleansing product, according to the FDA.
However, Wen by Chaz Dean and its distributor, Guthy-Renker, still insist that their cleansing conditioners are safe for use. You can read Wen’s full statement below.
“Wen by Chaz Dean is safe and we continue to provide our hundreds of thousands of customers with the Wen by Chaz Dean products that they know and love. Since the process of litigation is time consuming and costly, we made a business decision to pursue a settlement and put this behind us so that we can focus on delivering quality products.”
We’ll continue to update this post as we learn more information.
UPDATE (July 22,2016): According to a recent statement, the FDA has decided to get involved in the Wen controversy. As of early July, the agency reports that it had received 127 reports of adverse reactions to the Wen by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products, noting that is “the largest number of reports ever associated with any cosmetic hair cleansing product.” They are now urging other consumers who have experienced issues to report them directly to the FDA. The agency also clarified that it will be looking into the “more than 21,000 complaints reported directly to Chaz Dean, Inc. and Guthy Renker, LLC that we learned of during inspections of manufacturing and distribution facilities.”
Though no determination has been made as to what, if anything, is causing the hair loss, hair breakage, balding, and itching that some users have reported, the FDA says it is calling upon the brand to provide information that might help get to the bottom of the issue, as well as reaching out to doctors and health-care providers to let their patients know about the troubles the brand has been facing and report any instances of adverse reactions to the cleansing conditioners that they may come across.
(First published January 8, 2016.)
Last month, Wen by Chaz Dean’s popular cleansing conditioner came under fire when people took to social media, posting photos and claiming that the product did a lot more than just clean their hair. A group of 200 women filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that the conditioner caused severe hair loss. And now the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has written a report saying that according to federal court documents, Guthy-Renker, the company that owns Wen, had been “quietly conducting numerous safety studies” but has not disclosed the results of the studies to the public.
The EWG writes, “What did those studies conclude? We at EWG want to know—and so do the many people who say they were injured. […] But the woefully weak and outdated federal law that governs the personal care products industry does not require companies like Guthy-Renker to inform the FDA about customer complaints or their own health and safety studies.” This is true. We reported in April of last year that ingredients in cosmetics are not regulated by the FDA. However, there’s a bill called the Personal Care Products Safety Act that aims to get the FDA to set safety levels for five ingredients in cosmetic products: lead acetate (a pigment), methylene glycol (formaldehyde used in some professional hair-straightening treatments), and quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, and propyl paraben (preservatives).
Here’s the thing, though: We had a few dermatologists take a close look at the ingredients in Wen’s cleansing conditioner, and they found that none of the ingredients listed on the bottle were suspicious. “The ingredient list shares a lot of things that are common in other shampoos and conditioners,” says Papri Sarkar, a Boston-based dermatologist. Sarkar says that if there’s anything in the formula that could raise some concern it would be sweet-almond oil, fragrance, and flower extracts, which are known allergens. But even then, Sarkar says, if people were experiencing hair loss due to these ingredients, they should have also reported that their scalp was itchy and pink, and that the area around their eyes was itchy and red. “Since the product would run down their face when they’re using it, the area around the eyes is especially sensitive,” she explains.
Joe Hixson, a spokesperson for Wen, says, “We test all our products, as do all reputable companies. As we’ve said before, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to suggest that Wen products can cause hair loss. That’s what anyone using the product really needs to know.” What do you think? Would it be a good for Wen to release the results of its safety studies?
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