A haircare brand which became embroiled in a lawsuit centred around allegations that its cleansing conditioner caused hair loss
is reportedly aiming to bounce back by showing that its products are safe to use.
Wen by Chaz Dean
, marketed by Guthy-Renker, is in the final phases of a settlement in the USA with more than 200 women from 40 different states who claimed that its cleansing conditioner caused them hair loss, breakage and rashes.
While the total payout is expected to exceed $26 million (approximately £19.2 million), a continuing FDA investigation
into more than 1,000 complaints about the brand’s shampoo-free hair cleanser suggests that Wen may not be out of the woods just yet.
100 people for six weeks
Understandably keen to put its legal woes of the last few years behind it, however, Wen according to the website NewBeauty.com seems to be hitting back by publishing the results of a 2016 study, during which 100 people used its products for six weeks. The number of participants indicates that this is a small-scale trial. Whether or not the product was blind tested, and whether the study was independently conducted and if it was paid for by the brand or Guthy-Renker, is not made clear.
According to the Mail online, which picked up on the story, the company states that “the chemical formulation does not present an acute or chronic toxicological hazard when used in intended manner” and that during the study “not a single adverse reaction of any kind was reported.”
The newspaper naturally ponders what may have led to so many complaints about Wen if it really is safe to use and says that one Louisiana-based hair transplant surgeon and dermatologist suggests that a number of hair loss conditions
that are seen from time among the general population could have been to blame. These include alopecia areata
, an autoimmune disorder which manifests as sudden hair fall leaving rounded bald patches anywhere on the scalp, and telogen effluvium
, a temporary form of hairloss which causes intense hair thinning that often becomes noticeable around three months after a stressful episode or shock.
The newspaper also quoted a New York-based dermatologist named Dr Anthony Rossi, who pointed out that hair loss in women
is much more common than people realise. Might it be that when women have been using Wen products in such great numbers it is entirely possible that some of them would have experienced a hair loss condition at the same time? Technically, yes although this logic would not explain the reported problems of hair breakage
An interesting argument comes from New York dermatologist Dr Howard Sobel, who notes in the same article that some women may be so severely allergic to certain ingredients in Wen products that hair loss could ensue
“Two of the preservatives used in the cleansing conditioner are methylchloroisothiazolinone and Hydroxyisohexyl 3- Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde which have been either banned or deemed unsafe for use in consumer products in Europe,” he said.
Whether the UK and USA formulations of the product differed cannot currently be established given the Wen by Chaz Dean brand has been withdrawn from international sale. Despite this, the products can still be bought through third parties that do deliver abroad, via websites such as Amazon and eBay.
Because of the lack of regulation involved in internet shopping, it is important to be mindful when buying products online, especially from another country and if you are not buying from a reputable trader. Different countries and continents have different legal requirements when it comes to cosmetics, an instance of which Dr Sobel notes above. Another example involves some American formulations of men's gradual hair dye
which contain lead acetate - a carcinogenic substance banned in Europe and Canada.
Adverse reactions and hair loss
One thing that is certainly true is that there are plenty of products on the market that will not agree with everyone, and the most obvious thing to do if you suspect an adverse reaction to a product is to stop using it immediately. Whilst adverse reactions of this kind can lead to disconcerting hair fall, it is usually temporary.
If you notice sudden or vastly increased shedding it is wise to visit a hair loss clinic
where a specialist can assess your scalp. If you are unable to visit in person, an online consultation can be a more convenient option. Once you have received a professional diagnosis and explanation as to what is causing your hair thinning, this should at the very least help to ease the worry that sudden hair loss can cause.
During your consultation it is often worth mentioning any unusual incidents that happened or any new hair products or medication you started taking around three months before the hair loss first occurred. This can help to identify triggers as, due to the natural timing of the hair growth cycle
, it can take up to three months for hair fall to become apparent.
Furthermore, your dedicated specialist will be able to provide personalised recommendations for appropriate hair loss treatments
and additional hair growth boosters
- where necessary - that are tailored to your condition, pattern and level of shedding. These, along with on-going support and monitoring, should set you on the right course towards restoring healthy hair growth and calming any anxiety the unexpected hair fall has caused.