**UPDATE December 28, 2017
Although WEN settled its class-action lawsuit last year—women claimed its line of cleansing conditioners caused hair loss and other hair problems—brand founder Chaz Dean wants consumers to know his products are safe and always have been.
“To see what was being said in the press and in the lawsuits about a brand I poured my heart and soul into for over 20 years really hurt me to my core,” says Dean. “WEN has been my everything for so long; I was torn apart. My first question to my team was how do we help these people? I’ve spent my life helping people and working to give my clients beautiful, healthy hair. I understand that hair loss is a very emotional issue for anyone suffering from it, so no matter what the outcome was going to be of the allegations, there were a lot of people involved who needed support and deserved answers. Knowing how intricate the hair loss category is, the best first step for us was to test the products.”
To prove his products were safe, Dean worked with WEN’s retail partner Guthy Renker to conduct a six-week human safety test in which the cleansing conditioners in question were tested against a nationally recognized competitor brand of shampoo and the results were comparable. According to Dean, this clinical study revealed that WEN did not have any increased occurrence of hair loss than with a mass-market shampoo and conditioner. None of the subjects showed hair loss or negative reactions as a result of using WEN products.
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WEN also consulted with toxicologists and dermatologists, including New York dermatologist Anthony Rossi, MD, who says the products are safe and the hair loss experienced by the women in the lawsuit could have been caused by a variety of factors.
“There are many different types of hair loss that can occur,” says Dr. Rossi. “According to the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgeons (ISHRS), a total of 21 million women in the United States are suffering from some form of hair loss. Approximately 40 percent of women by age 50 show signs of hair loss, and less than 45 percent of women actually reach the age of 80 with a full head of hair. Additionally, multiple physiologic or iatrogenic causes can contribute to hair loss, including high-stress life events, weight loss/gain (rapid or excessive), certain medications or medication changes, post-pregnancy, post-surgery, anemia, hormonal changes such as menopause, and certain illnesses such as lupus, diabetes, thyroid disease, etc.”
So for those of you who abandoned your WEN products last year as a result of the lawsuit, you may want to give them a second chance. Yes, the number of consumer complaints was high, and it may be tough to see past that, but many women still use and love the brand’s cleansing conditioners and have never experienced any issues. Whether you’re a long-time fan or you have yet to try the products, here’s how Dean says the cleansing conditioners should be used:
“Make sure you review the instructions provided on our labels to ensure you are using the appropriate amount of product for your hair length and texture. I always recommend that you cleanse your hair twice, splitting the amount of product that you will be using in half instead of doing it all at once. First, rinse your hair with water and pump half of the recommended amount into your palm. Massage the product into your hair thoroughly. Rinse and repeat once again. Make sure you rinse the product completely! Lastly, if desired, apply a small amount of the conditioner to the mid-shaft and ends of your hair as a leave-in conditioner.”
**UPDATE November 1, 2016
A Southern California federal judge just ruled in a preliminary hearing that the proposed $26.25 million settlement has been approved. This is not good news for WEN (translation: more than six million people could be awarded up to $20,000 in individual settlements, according to CBS Los Angeles). The next step in this case is that it will be reviewed by a U.S. District Court Judge, and if she approves it, the settlements mentioned above become reality.
Attorney Amy Davis gave a statement on behalf of the plaintiff to CBS Los Angeles: “From what we understand about the product and how it causes hair loss is it contains virtually no cleanser. 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.”
WEN provided the following statement, according to CBS: “WEN by Chaz Dean is safe, and we continue to provide our hundreds of thousands of customers with the WEN by Chaz Dean products that they know and love. Since the process of litigation is time-consuming and costly, we made a business decision to pursue a settlement and put this behind us so that we can focus on delivering quality products.”
In the midst of this court case, the FDA is continuing its investigation into the products as well. Stay tuned to NewBeauty.com for more updates!
**UPDATE August 16, 2016
According to The New York Times, Guthy-Renker has agreed to a $26.25 million settlement, but it hasn’t been approved by a federal judge. If approved, the company would pay $25 to anyone who’s purchased a bottle of the cleansing conditioner since it was launched and up to $20,000 to those who claimed hair loss or other injury.
The FDA is still looking into the matter, but has yet to take any action and the products are still available for purchase.
**Originally Published July 21, 2016
Bad news for WEN lovers: The hair-loss saga isn’t over. According to a statement released by the FDA, there have been 127 reports filed by consumers regarding hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching, and rash associated with the use of WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products.
Throughout the duration of the investigation, the FDA urges consumers to be aware of any reactions they may experience in association with the use of the products, and if they do experience a reaction, to stop using the product and consult with a dermatologist or other health care provider. You can also report your reaction to the FDA for further investigation.
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This news comes roughly six months after initial reports of severe damage and significant hair loss as a result of using the products were filed by 200 women in a class-action lawsuit against the brand. In a statement provided to NBC News in December 2015, WEN, Guthy-Renker and Chaz Dean refuted these claims and said there was no scientific evidence to support them.
According to the FDA’s statement, experts have not yet been able to pinpoint what is in the sulfate-free cleansing conditioners that could be causing such damage, but they’re now calling on WEN to provide any data that might help them better understand the reports of hair loss associated with the use of the products.
We received the following statement from Chaz Dean Inc.: “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. WEN by Chaz Dean is safe, and millions of bottles have been sold over the last 16 years. We have consistently cooperated with the FDA and will continue to do so. We love our brand and our customers. Through this experience, we have learned that there is an immediate need for more education about hair health and common hair concerns in the industry, unrelated to WEN. There is no evidence that WEN by Chaz Dean products cause hair loss, and the ingredients and formulations meet or exceed safety and quality standards set by the cosmetics industry. We stand behind them.”