Lawsuit moving forward could mean big reward for millions of Wen hair care users

Warning about popular hair treatment

MISSOURI (KFVS) - Do you know what you are really putting in your hair? You might want to double check.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert after a surprisingly high number of reports associated with the use of a particular cleansing conditioner.

As of July 7, the FDA had received 127 complaints of "hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching, and rash" after people used Wen by Chaz Dean cleansing conditioner products.

The FDA says that is the largest number of reports ever associated with any cosmetic hair cleansing product, including cleansing conditioners.

Right now, the FDA says it hasn't determined why users are experiencing these reactions.

In October, a federal judge in Los Angeles gave gave preliminary approval to a $26.3 million settlement for a class-action lawsuit against celebrity stylist Chaz Dean and marketer Guthy-Renker over Wen hair care products.

CBS Los Angeles reports if the settlement is officially approved, some six million people may be eligible for an award of up to $20,000.

However, a U.S. District Court judge must still give final approval of the settlement.

The lawsuit accuses Dean's line of Wen shampoos and conditioners of causing hair loss and scalp irritation.

According to CBS Los Angeles, Wen released a statement saying it stands by its products. It is pursuing a settlement since the process of litigation is time consuming and costly.

The company hopes to put the lawsuit behind them and focus on delivering "quality products."

However, the FDA is still investigating.

In response to the FDA's safety alert, Wen released the following statement:

The Wen by Chaz Dean family cares deeply about everyone's hair health. We encourage people who inquire about any hair issues to seek qualified medical assistance because it is a complex topic.

However, the complaints continue to roll in from women all over, despite the class action lawsuit filed last year against Guthy-Renker, Wen's parent company.

About 200 women joined forces to  the product is making their hair fall out and in some cases it's not growing back.

Heather Thompson, an educator and owner of Renaissance Beauty Academy in Cape Girardeau says in the 12 years she has worked in the industry, she has never seen a product that has received that many adverse reports.

She says typically, hair care products are relatively safe.

Despite the complaints, Thompson said she does have one guest who insists on using Wen products.

Other Heartland women also use the products.

"I use Wen products. Never had a problem," Dena Forrest Merick said. "I have color- treated hair. Also have thinning hair loss due to RA medications. Wen has been beneficial to my scalp and skin. Also use the cleansing conditioner on my skin. Wonderful product. My hair looks thicker and healthy.

The FDA says it is also investigating more than 21,000 complaints reported directly to Chaz Dean, Inc. and Guthy Renker, LLC that FDA learned of during inspections of manufacturing and distribution facilities.

Either way, the FDA says consumers need to be aware of the reactions reported in association with the cleansing conditioners.

Anyone who experiences a problem using the products is encouraged to stop using it and consult their health care provider.

Consumers can also report issues to the FDA.

The law does not require cosmetic companies to report problems to FDA. Therefore, any reports help keep cosmetics market safe.

How to report a problem:

When you contact FDA, you are asked to include the following information in your report, if known:

  • About the Person Affected
  • Name and contact information (address, phone, and e-mail address)
  • Age, gender, and ethnicity
  • About the Product
  • Name of the product and the manufacturer
  • Product codes or identifying marks on the label or container [Note: do not discard the product packaging and labeling. They provide information that will help FDA investigate the problem]
  • When and where the product was purchased
  • About the Problem
  • Description of the reaction or problem
  • Description of medical treatment provided, if any

All reports are kept confidential.

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