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More than 200 women in 40 states have joined a class action lawsuit against Wen by Chaz Dean and its infomercial owner Guthy-Renker because they allege that Wen's cleanser is making them go bald, The Daily Beast reports. In addition to the alleged hair loss and scalp injuries, court papers claim that Guthy-Renker blocked comments about hair loss from Wen's Facebook page and removed negative online reviews about the products.
In nightmare-fueling fashion, BuzzFeed compiled images from women showing their bald spots and toupee-size hair clumps in the drain, allegedly from using celebrity stylist Chaz Dean's sulfate-free cleanser.
If you haven't heard of Wen, you must've somehow missed Dean's ubiquitous infomercials and marketing promising that his cleanser can replace ordinary shampoo and conditioner. The complaint alleges that "the WEN products at issue contain a caustic ingredient that causes a chemical reaction and damages hair and follicles." Guthy-Renker denies that Wen is any way defective or responsible for hair loss.
The images are shocking, but The Daily Beast notes that it could be tough for the plaintiffs to prove that Wen is responsible for their hair loss, which could stem from many factors. The first four ingredients in many Wen cleansers are water, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, which are commonly used in hair products. Wen does contain a chemical banned in the EU, hydroxycitronella.
Amy Davis, the Dallas-based attorney and lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said that her firm hired chemists to test Wen. "What we understand about the product and how it causes hair loss is it contains virtually no cleanser," she told told a local CBS station. "It’s like using lotion to wash your hair, so instead of removing the product, when you rinse it off, it just becomes impacted in your hair follicle."
In between complaints about customer service, auto shipments and inaccurate charges, Facebook comments on Wen's page have been posted by loyal customers and outraged users alike. There's love for Wen — "i use the pomegranate cleansing conditioner. and kid u not, every time i use it and go to the salon for haircut, they tell me that my hair is so healthy," one Facebook commenter wrote — to outright warnings to other consumers — "Went from very thick long hair that would break a pony tail holder to extremely thin brittle hair! #Scam I Used it for 1 year with nothing else but their products! Pleeeeease Don't buy this Product if u love your hair like I did!!!"
The Daily Beast reports that both sides are heading to mediation. "The parties are attempting to settle their differences outside of court and we have agreed to refrain from any extrajudicial statements about the case in the meantime," Davis told The Daily Beast.
Here's the statement gave BuzzFeed:
We take great pride in the quality of our products and believe every product meets our high standards. We want all of our customers to have positive experiences with our products, and we encourage any customer with any questions to contact us.
With well over 10 million WEN products shipped since 2008, our customers’ overwhelmingly positive response to Wen is a testament to the benefits it can deliver for its users. These benefits are reflected in consistently high rankings from independent consumer product sites as well.
Importantly, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support any claim that our hair care products caused anyone to lose their hair. There are many reasons why individuals may lose their hair, all unrelated to WEN hair care products. We intend to vigorously contest the allegations made against our products.