Just a few days ago, Rodan + Fields, the supercharged social media–fueled skin care empire founded by dermatologists Drs. Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, was awarded the title of the number-one beauty brand in both the United States and North America by Euromonitor, a market research company. With sales revenue reaching into the billions and women from coast to coast singing their praises about the skin-transforming effects of the multiprong kits (Facebook and Instagram before-and-afters further drive home the point that they really work), it was only a matter of time before the beloved brand received some slack from users. But this goes beyond normal Internet trolling that typically involves slamming the efficacy of the brand, as a potential class-action lawsuit is being brought to light.
In 2016, Rodan + Fields (or R+F as its fans and multitier marketing sales reps refer to it as) launched one of its biggest hits to date, Lash Boost ($150). Containing keratin, biotin, panthenol, petides and a slew of other ingredients, the no-prescription-required lash product purportedly generated over $200 million in sales in just one year.
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While some users, like the four plaintiffs who brought forward the suit claiming they experienced reactions after using the product including “bumps on the eyes, flaky patches, burning, swelling, crusting and pain, among other things” and also have alleged “deceptive labeling and unlawful marketing” of Lash Boost, and that R + F “failed to disclose the harmful side effects linked to an ingredient in their Lash Boost product,” have posted on beauty forums and blogs that Lash Boost has caused their eyes to become irritated or develop discoloration along their lash lines come morning, many have admitted to being so addicted to the lash-lengthening benefits of the product that they can’t break the habit no matter what. It’s just that good. (I can attest to this firsthand. Since using it, my lashes have grown to the point that they literally reach the lowest point of my eyebrows and I have a hard time keeping my mascara from smearing on my lids due to tips that are so long).
The ingredient in question here is isopropyl cloprostenate, which can be found on the ingredient list of numerous products that claim to enhance and condition the lashes. Despite its extensive use, the active ingredient in doubt, which is not FDA-approved as a drug, has had a somewhat controversial track record (isopropyl cloprostenate falls under Canada’s more stringent cosmetic guidelines, and therefore, Lash Boost is not available there). In years past, other beauty brands that sold lash products with the ingredient were under fire by FDA warnings about potential serious side effects—irritation, changes in iris color, inflammation and even eye pressure changes—forcing many manufacturers to reformulate their products, although several still make use of isopropyl cloprostenate. Whereas other brands made claims to grow longer, better lashes, which attracted unsolicited FDA attention and put the ingredient under intense analysis, Lash Boost doesn’t. On the R + F website, the product is marketed toward getting, “the appearance of lush, longer-looking lashes” with a formula that “improves the appearance of lash volume and length.”
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In response to the claims, a representative for R + F provided Racked.com with the following statement:
The Company vigorously denies the allegations in the Complaint, and stands behind the safety and efficacy of Lash Boost. We are going to let the specifics of our legal defense play out in court. Lash Boost is intended for use as a cosmetic and as such, has been consistently advertised as improving the appearance of eyelashes. As with any cosmetic, Lash Boost may cause irritation in some users, especially if it is misused. R+F provides clear directions to users, including those who experience irritations. Many of the allegations involve unrelated products, including prescription products that have different ingredients and formulations.
Of course, both the product packaging and Lash Boost landing page provide explicit details in the instructions for use and warning label.
Where this will all net out is unknown, and it’s probably too soon to tell. But it’s not the first time, and probably not the last time, that lash boosters are experiencing microscopic scrutiny of this kind.
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