Update: $26M WEN Lawsuit 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.
Hundreds of Women Join Class Action Alleging WEN Caused Hair Loss
The class action (PDF) was filed against Dean and the direct marketing company Guthy-Renker in California Federal Court, according to The Daily Beast. Multiple lawsuits have been filed over WEN Hair Care products, but the size and scope of the class action has focused a spotlight on customers’ allegations of hair loss.
One of the plaintiffs, Amy Friedman of Florida, claims she bought a WEN Cleansing Conditioner Sweet Almond Mint basic kit for $29.95 on Jan. 29, 2014 — and quickly noticed a problem.
“Within two weeks of beginning use of her WEN Cleansing Conditioner, Plaintiff began losing substantial and abnormal amounts of hair,” the lawsuit states. Friedman stopped using the product, “but the hair loss continued for approximately three more weeks,” until she had “lost one quarter to one third of the hair on her head.”
Friedman claims her experience is not an isolated incident, and that “the internet is replete with examples of blogs and other websites where consumers have complained of the exact same issues with WEN Cleansing Conditioner,” according to the lawsuit.
WEN Hair Care Complaints
Plaintiffs allege that WEN Hair Care products can cause:
- Severe, possibly permanent hair damage
- Thinning hair
- Hair loss
- Hair discoloration
- Visible bald spots
- Severe hair breakage
- Scalp irritation
Allegations raised in the class action include claims that:
- WEN Cleansing Conditioner can cause hair loss that continues even after a customer stops using it;
- Guthy-Renker advertised its products with false and misleading claims;
- As a result of the defective nature of WEN Hair Care products, they were and are unfit for their intended use and purpose;
- Defendants had “knowledge of a material design defect” with the product, yet they failed to “disclose and/or warn plaintiff and other consumers that WEN Cleansing Conditioner can and does cause substantial hair loss;”
- Guthy-Renker actively “concealed customers’ comments concerning hair loss, by blocking and/or erasing such comments from the WEN Facebook page.”
- Defendant “reinforces its false statements” by citing a “3-week study of users of WEN Cleansing Conditioner,” in which “100% said hair was more moisturized, 97% notice that WEN added more shine, and 95% reported that hair became more manageable.”
Separate Class Actions Proposed
Friedman has proposed 2 separate classes — a national class for all customers who purchased WEN Cleansing Conditioner from Aug. 1, 2009 through the present, as well as a Florida class for all customers in Florida who purchased the product from Aug. 1, 2009 through the present. Plaintiff is charging Guthy-Renker with:
- Breach of warranty
- Violating California’s unfair competition law
- Violating the California false advertising law
- Violating Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive trade Practices Act
- Failure to warn
- Failure to test
- Strict products liability
How to Know if your Beauty Products Could Cause Hair Loss
Even if you’ve never used WEN, there’s still a risk that you could suffer hair loss and other damage to your hair from some beauty products.
“Some of the ingredients — particularly fragrance components — used in shampoos and personal care products are potent sensitizers, meaning they can cause allergies in otherwise healthy people,” says Johanna Congleton, MSPH, PhD, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “These reactions can be severe.”
The FDA does not require manufacturers of personal care products to disclose what chemicals are in their fragrance mix, so if you see the words “fragrance” listed in the ingredients, proceed with caution.
Also, avoid using dark, permanent hair dyes and chemical hair straighteners, as both products contain toxic chemicals, according to Congleton.
FDA Investigating WEN Hair Loss Claims
July 19, 2016 – The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that it is investigating WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioners after the products were linked to at least 127 adverse event reports, “the largest number of reports ever associated with any cosmetic hair cleansing product, including cleansing conditioners.” The agency is also looking into more than 21,000 other complaints reported directly to Chaz Dean, Inc. and Guthy Renker, LLC, that it became aware of during inspections of the companies’ facilities.
Chaz Dean Seeks Mediation in Hair Loss Lawsuit
December 18, 2015 – Bravo reality star and celebrity hair stylist Chaz Dean is seeking to quickly mediate a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 200 women who claim Dean’s hair care products caused hair loss and balding, according to Radar Online. According to court documents, “The parties, by counsel, hereby apprise the Court that they have agreed upon a framework for the exchange of evaluation-critical information and to otherwise mediate the claims of each Plaintiff as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.”