WEN Hair Care Is Being Sued Over Users’ Reported Hair Loss—Here’s What You Should Know

Victoria Moorhouse
Eva Filz / EyeEm / Getty Images

Eva Filz / EyeEm / Getty Images

WEN Hair Care, a product line owned by celebrity hairstylist Chaz Dean, is currently tied up in a lawsuit over multiple women claiming that the product line has led to hair loss, according to a recent press release. You may have seen the line advertised on television or on QVC. It includes four main products, which consists of products like a cleansing conditioner that also takes the place of a shampoo, a mousse, a styling creme, and a hair treatment. The cleansing conditioner is by far the most recognizable, and comes in four different variations and scents based on hair type and texture.

The lawsuit allegedly contains the claims of six women who all say they’ve experienced hair loss after using the line’s Cleansing Conditioner—and according to one of the women filing the suit, the legal team is hiring a chemist to try to decipher what would be making them lose their hair – if WEN hair care is truly the cause. A Consumer Affairs website lists over 300 reviews and complaints on the product line, some of which complain of hair loss and tangling.

While the product has not been said to be the sure cause of hair loss, and we’ve of course heard great things about the product too, it made us wonder if hair care products can truly cause this type of damage and how long it would take for it to occur. We consulted with NYC hair specialist and restoration expert Dr. Robert Dorin to get some insight on the topic of hair loss from products, the WEN lawsuit, and more.

There have been reports that woman using WEN hair care products have experienced hair loss. Can the type of shampoo, conditioner, and masks you are using stunt the growth or even make your hair fall out? Is this truly possible?
Yes, it is definitely possible for topical chemicals applied to the scalp, skin, and hair to illicit a biological response that could interfere with the cascade of biochemical interactions/reactions that are necessary to either grow or maintain hair health. I am not saying that the WEN products did in fact cause hair loss, as a definitive answer is yet to be determined.

MORE: 10 Ways to Fight Hair Loss

How long would you have to use a faulty hair product to experience this result? Is this typically over a long period of time?
It depends on what the mechanism is that is inhibiting the growth and at what stage of the growth cycle it is interrupted. For example, taking any product for instance—if it is causing an abrupt interruption of the active growth phase (the Anagen phase) the time and exposure would not have to be that long to cause hair loss, maybe weeks. This is the type of loss one experiences when undergoing chemotherapy—an Anagen effluvium. If it is causing the hair to prematurely enter the resting phase of the growth cycle or stay in it longer (the Telogen phase) the duration of use to cause this could be a bit longer in the terms of  months.

What ingredients should we be weary of in general?
In general, ammonium and sodium lauryl sulfates are harsh chemicals that tend to be too stringent and over-strip the hair and scalp. They are of a smaller molecular size that tend to gain access to the scalp and therefore hang around longer on the scalp and could cause irritation and peri follicular inflammation that could decrease the hair growth over time. Parabans and large quantities of alcohol in a product is also not good for scalp and hair health.

In the case of Wen, three ingredients that were listed under key ingredients can be of concern of [and] in fact it does contain them: Namely Hexyl Cinnamal and Benzyl Benzoate, as these are both recommended for restrictive use in cosmetics by the international Fragrance Association Codes and Standards, and Hydroxycitronella as this is banned from being used on the European Union because it is known to be a human immune system toxin.

MORE: Can You Really Make Your Hair Grow Faster?