WEN by Chaz Dean, manufactured and sold by infomercial giant Guthy-Renker, is a hair care brand endorsed by celebrities with enviably glossy manes like Brooke Shields, Alyssa Milano, and Angie Harmon. But rumors have circulated throughout the years that the sulfate-free 5-in-1 WEN Cleansing Conditioners may cause significant hair loss and bald spots.
Late this year, the law firm of Christiansen Davis LLC amended its California federal court lawsuit to include 200 individual consumers who claimed to have suffered symptoms like “severe hair breakage,” “visible bald spots,” “scalp irritation,” rashes, and even infection.
According to the amended complaint, the cleansing conditioner varieties under scrutiny include Coconut Mango, Cranberry, Fig, Lavender, Pomegranate, Sweet Almond Mint, and Tea Tree. Yahoo Beauty reached out to WEN’s public relations agency and had not heard back for comment at press time.
What is most surprising about the alleged side effects of the products, if they are indeed true, is that the hair care line was marketed as combating the “long-term damaging effects of shampoos by replacing the harmful detergents and sulfates in soap and shampoo with nourishing botanical ingredients that work wonders on even the driest, damaged, and frizzy hair.”
WEN claims that traditional shampoos are damaging and harsh to the hair and scalp and that its cleansing conditioners are a gentle alternative to those shampoos. One ingredient of WEN Cleansing Conditioners, benzyl benzoate, is a proven skin irritant. Another ingredient, hexyl cinnamaldehyde, is a class B allergen. Hydroxycitronella, an ingredient used as a fragrance, is banned in the EU as a “known human immune system toxicant or allergen.
” But the top ingredients, “water, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, and Cetearyl alcohol,” are common on many skin and hair care products.
“Rather than share information that could have helped injured consumers, Christiansen Davis LLC understands that the companies denied having received any other complaints when many of the women called for help,” a public statement from the law firm reads. “As explained in the Complaint, the companies also apparently removed negative online reviews about the products that might have warned these 200 unsuspecting consumers and helped them avoid their injuries.”
Most of the reviews for the WEN by Chaz Dean Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner on sephora.com are generally positive, with 1,317 reviews averaging out to four stars. The reviews fall dramatically on opposite ends of the spectrum, from “My hair has never been more dry, prone to knots and tangling” to “My hair feels amazing and smells lovely.”
The Daily Beast reports that the parties are trying to settle out of court. Cleansing creams and lotions have increased in popularity this year due to the no-shampoo movement, but even for all their sulfate-free claims, it may be safer to do your research based on your own hair. As noted in a 2007 trichology study, sulfates are actually good for people with oily hair.
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