January 11, 2016 — Documents filed in a federal class action lawsuit claim the manufacturer of WEN secretly conducted safety studies, but refuses to release the results of those studies publicly.
The class action was filed in Los Angeles by more than 200 women who experienced severe hair loss after using WEN. The manufacturer, Guthy-Renker, LLC, has received about 17,000 complaints about hair loss.
The existence of the safety studies was reported by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a consumer advocacy organization. Guthy-Renker is accused of “quietly conducting numerous safety studies” and keeping the results secret.
The EWG blamed the non-disclosure on “woefully weak and outdated federal law” that does not require cosmetics companies to tell the FDA about consumer complaints or safety studies: “What did those studies conclude? We at EWG want to know—and so do the many people who say they were injured.”
Allure talked to several dermatologists who said the ingredients in WEN do not appear to be the problem. All of the ingredients are commonly found in hair products, and any allergens would likely cause noticeable inflammation in addition to hair-loss.
Attorneys for members of the class action say the most popular product, WEN Cleansing Conditioner, is a “5-in-1” product that contains virtually no cleanser — so its like using lotion to wash your hair. Over time, the hair follicle could become impacted by product that is not rinsed out.
Last year, U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.) introduced the “Personal Care Products Safety Act.” The bill would expand the authority of the FDA to regulate ingredients in cosmetics and give the FDA power to remove products they believe are likely to cause health problems.