The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received a slew of consumer complaints, which prompted the federal agency to issue a safety alert. This is quite rare for hair and beauty products, since the FDA does not receive these many complaints.
Consumers protested against a particular product, a cleansing hair conditioner line by WEN. The product is actually already the subject of a class-action lawsuit regarding unnatural hair loss claims that began in 2014 and is still ongoing until today.
The line consisted of low lather conditioners and is presented by Chaz Dean, a celebrity stylist. The products come in various scents namely sweet almond mint, pomegranate, and lavender. Although the conditioners are quite popular, the FDA received a total of 127 reports about the line’s adverse effects, which included:
- Hair loss
- Hair breakage
With almost 130 complaints received, along with over 21,000 complaints to the hair stylist, to his company, Chaz Dean, Inc., and to the manufacturer/marketer of the product Guthy Renker, the FDA issued a warning. According to the FDA, they are still unable to determine the cause of the negative effects. The agency also urged the company to provide them with data that can help understand the hair problems. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the hairstylist gave a statement that they care about the hair health of their customers. The company also suggests that the complainants seek medical assistance as the problem is quite complex. The spokesperson further stated that WEN products are safe and for over 16 years, millions of bottles have been sold.
Further investigation led to exploring the ingredients of the conditioner line. The ingredients are as follows:
- Aloe vera
- Sweet almond oil
- Soy protein
- Chamomile extract
The ingredients do seem harmless, except for a few exceptions. The hair conditioners contained preservatives namely methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. Both of these preservatives have been linked to irritation of the lungs, skin, and eyes. Unfortunately, there are no strict regulations concerning makeup and skin products. The only one that is related to the industry is the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Unfortunately, it is very weak one and wasn’t updated after 1938.
There is a new bill introduced recently, which aims to update the act mentioned above. However, it is still not approved and the US remains to ban only 11 ingredients for beauty products, such as chloroform and mercury. Meanwhile, Europe does not allow over 1,300 ingredients.