GLAMOUR (GLAMOUR.COM) – The FDA Is Now Getting Involved in the Wen Hair Care Lawsuit by Petra Guglielmetti
UPDATE: Looks like we might finally get some concrete answers about the safety of Wen hair care products. Wen by Chaz Dean has now received “the largest number of [safety] reports ever associated with any cosmetic hair cleansing product.” That’s according to the FDA, which just launched an official investigation into the safety of Wen Cleansing Conditioners, following months of consumer complaints against the brand, a class-action lawsuit filed in December, and calls to action by government officials.
Customers claim that Wen’s popular scented cleansing conditioners, meant to be used in lieu of shampoo, can lead to serious skin and hair problems, including bald spots, hair breakage, irritation, and scalp rashes. As of July 7, 127 consumer-safety complaints against Wen had been registered directly with the FDA and more than 21,000 sent to the brand, according to the FDA, which discovered this during recent inspections of Wen’s manufacturing and distribution facilities.
Now the FDA will begin investigating the claims against Wen, which has continued to maintain the safety of its products. “The FDA has not yet determined a possible cause for the adverse events that have been reported, and today has called on the company to provide any data that might help us to better understand the reports of hair loss associated with the use of Wen by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products,” the agency states in a press release. “The FDA also has reached out to physicians and other health care providers asking them to notify their patients of hair loss and other complaints associated with the use of these products and to report adverse events to the agency.”
What should Wen lovers do in the meantime? Here’s what officials recommend: “While the FDA continues its investigation, consumers should be aware of reactions reported in association with the use of WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products. Consumers who experience a reaction after using Wen by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products should stop using the product and consult with their dermatologist or other health care provider. The agency also urges consumers to report to FDA any reactions they may have experienced when using these products.”
We’ll keep you updated on what the FDA finds—and hopefully, finally give you some clear answers about this product’s safety.
This post was originally published on March 10, 2016:
New month, new beauty lawsuit drama! Back in December, we debriefed you about the class-action lawsuit against Wen, the wildly popular infomercial hair care brand best known for its cleansing conditioners. Unlike similar suits we’ve seen recently involving users having adverse reactions to beauty products, this one hasn’t been settled—and, in a surprising twist, the federal government has now gotten involved.
House Representative Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, is spearheading efforts to get clearer answers from both Wen and the FDA about how each have handled complaints from more than 17,000 customers who say their use of the brand’s products has caused hair loss and bald spots, scalp rashes, and burning eyes. “Consumers deserve to know that they are making safe choices when they purchase cosmetics,” Pallone said in a press release yesterday from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Unfortunately, since popular cosmetics and personal care products are largely unregulated before they reach the marketplace, these products can contain harmful chemicals that have the potential to put consumers at risk. We must reform our nation’s outdated cosmetics law and ensure that FDA has the resources necessary to review the chemicals used in household products when they are sold to consumers.”
This isn’t the first time Pallone has argued that the U.S. government should do more when it comes to ensuring that the ingredients used in beauty products are safe—and he’s in good company. A new national survey released March 1 revealed that 87 percent of voting Americans want stricter regulation of personal care products, and since last spring, two senators have been actively working toward making that happen. Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins (a California Democrat and Maine Republican) are pushing forward a bipartisan bill called the Personal Care Products Safety Act that would update the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act—an 80-year-old law that’s supposed to guarantee the safety of cosmetics but falls short of what’s needed to wrangle what’s now a $189 billion a year industry. Their law would require companies to ensure that products are safe before putting them on the market and give the FDA tools for enforcing this.
But back to Wen—we want to note that the company is still standing by the fact that its products contain nothing toxic or harmful (and it’s true that even seemingly benign ingredients like natural fragrances can cause dramatic reactions like those listed in the suit, if someone is allergic or highly sensitive to them). “There is no scientific evidence to support any claim that our hair care products caused anyone to lose their hair,” a company representative told us in December. “There are many reasons why individuals may lose their hair, all unrelated to Wen. We intend to vigorously contest the allegations made.”