More than 200 women in 40 U.S. states are filing a massive lawsuit against WEN Hair Care, a celebrity endorsed shampoo and hair care line created by Los Angeles-based hair stylist, Chaz Dean. Personal reports have been flowing in on social media and various news sites claiming that the products cause significant hair loss and other forms of damage and discomfort including rashes, thinning hair, and “uncontrollable itchiness.”
WEN Hair Care was initially created as a safe, healthy alternative to other popular shampoo brands that use “harsh chemicals” and supposedly “damaging” ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate (a foaming agent found in most personal care products). The WEN website lists “glycerin, rosemary extract, chamomile extract, wild cherry bark, and panthenol” as the ingredients in the line’s cleansing conditioner, but a suit filed in July 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California states that the ingredients that are causing damage have not been listed. According to NBC News, the suit document also claims that WEN is also using “numerous harsh chemicals” along with its natural and safe synthetic ingredients.
At the forefront of the lawsuit against Guthy-Renker, the infomercial giant who touted the products, is Amy Friedman. Friedman, who works as a Florida nurse practioner, claims that after using WEN’s Sweet Almond Mint cleansing conditioner for less than two weeks that she “began losing substantial and abnormal amounts of hair.”
Friedman discontinued her use of the product but continued to shed chunks of hair for about three weeks after. According to the suit, she eventually lost one quarter to a third of her hair.
Other women began posting photos and numerous horror stories to the company’s Facebook page:
“I can’t leave my house… I’m depressed (and) WEN hair products is responsible for my hair loss… I’m overwhelmed and frustrated,” wrote one woman after posting a particularly devastating photo.
“It’s really great that there are women out there having a good experience with this product. However, it is not the case for many of us,” wrote another woman. “I only used it a month and lost hair by the handfuls… You sell a product that makes hair fall out like a horror movie for many women.”
WEN is also being accused of blocking and/or erasing negative comments and reviews from its Facebook page, and company representatives have reportedly been turning down requests for comment.
WEN’s cleansing conditioners sell for $29.95 per “basic kit,” and according to Forbes, the company raked in $100 million in 2010 alone. Currently, the hair products’ official Facebook page has just 600,000 “likes” while the line’s late-night infomercials have featured famous faces such as Brooke Shields and Alyssa Milano.