Over 200 women have joined a class action lawsuit against the makers of WEN hair care alleging that their products caused hair loss, bald spots, scalp irritation, rash and other hair damage.
Update: $26M WEN Class Action Settlement Moves Forward
November 7, 2016 – A Los Angeles judge has given preliminary approval to a $26 million settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging hair loss, breakage and balding from WEN hair care products. As a result of the ruling, Celebrity stylist Chaz Dean and marketer Guthy-Renker will have to defend their WEN Cleansing Conditioner before a U.S. District Court Judge. The outcome of the lawsuit could mean settlements of up to $20,000 for some six million people.
Hair Product Sued for Allegedly Making Women Go Bald
The class action (PDF) was filed on behalf of lead plaintiff Amy Friedman and similarly situated individuals against WEN by Chaz Dean, accusing the company and its infomercial owner of knowingly selling products that cause hair loss, breakage, scalp irritation, rash and other hair damage. The complaint also alleges that WEN advertisements are misleading in that they promised positive results without warning of potential side effects, according to The Daily Beast.
What is WEN?
According to the manufacturer, WEN products include “natural botanicals and herbs,” which are designed to “replace shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, detangler and leave-in conditioner.” The hair care line was so successful that in 2010, Forbes reported that it had generated $100 million in sales in just its 2nd year on the market. WEN’s creator, Chaz Dean, is well known for appearing on Reality TV shows and styling celebrities such as Brooke Shields and Alyssa Milano.
BuzzFeed reports that WEN users “claim that they suffered hair and scalp damage, hair loss, rashes, scalp irritation, hair breakage, poor hair condition, and hair discoloration.” The article contains a large number of social media posts featuring pictures of angry customers with bald spots and clumps of hair.
One woman who wrote to Consumer Affairs said “There’s not a day I don’t cry and just keep praying the hair will eventually stop falling out. I am down to washing my hair just once every two weeks because washing it makes the hair loss worse.”
What’s Causing the Hair Loss?
Since current laws do not require manufacturers of personal care products to test their products before bringing them to market, it’s still unclear as to what chemicals or allergens in WEN are causing hair loss.
“At this time, we don’t know,” says Johanna Congleton, MSPH, PhD, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “What’s more troubling is the FDA doesn’t know.”
Hair Loss Treatment
Effective treatments for certain types of hair loss are available; however, some hair loss may be permanent. Popular hair loss treatments include medications (Rogaine and Propecia, although these drugs come with their own serious side effects), surgery, laser therapy and wigs or hair pieces. A combination of these approaches may be recommended to achieve best results.
$26 Million Settlement Offered in WEN Class Action
August 16, 2016 – Consumers who suffered hair loss or balding after using WEN Cleansing Conditioner could be eligible for up to $20,000 as part of a proposed $26 million class action lawsuit settlement. If approved by a federal judge, the settlement would provide a $25 cash payment to anyone who purchased WEN. It would also compensate people who suffered hair loss or permanent baldness, according to the New York Times.
FDA Investigating WEN Hair Loss
July 19, 2016 – WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner could cause balding, hair loss, itching and rash, according to an FDA Warning issued today. The agency has received a record number of adverse event reports — at least 127 — associated with the haircare line. Consumers should talk to their doctors if they experience hair loss or other hair damage while using the cleansing conditioner (and should stop using it), according to the FDA.
Guthy-Renker Kept Secret Safety Studies
January 7, 2016 – As complaints over WEN Cleansing Conditioner poured in, the manufacturer was conducting secret safety studies on the product, according to a new class action lawsuit. Guthy-Renker has not revealed the results of the studies, and may not have to due to an antiquated federal law that allows manufacturers of personal care products not to reveal customer complaints or their own health and safety studies. Click here to learn more.
Mediation Begins in WEN Class Action
December 18, 2015 – Two sides are officially in mediation over a class action lawsuit filed against WEN Hair Care by Chaz Dean and marketing company Guthy-Renker, according to CBS News. The proceedings were temporarily suspended by a federal judge, as lawyers for both sides agreed to attempt to reach a settlement.