The U S Food and Drug Administration began investigating WEN by Chaz Dean after reports of hair loss, balding, and rashes. The agency took the rare step of issuing a safety alert last month after learning the company had received 21,000 complaints.
11-year-old Eliana Lawrence’s mother Miriam says Eliana almost went bald after using a WEN by Chaz Dean hair care product. The product is endorsed by celebrities and advertises that it will give you stronger, fuller hair.
Two years ago, Eliana was worried she would be bald forever.
“I was scared I wasn’t going to get my hair back.”
“I noticed that her hairbrush was overflowing with hair. I’d never seen her brush in that condition before,” said Miriam.
The company told CBS News it is cooperating with the FDA, and its products are safe.
“We have shared our formulations and ingredients with the FDA,” it told CBS News. “We … exceed the FDA’s requirements for cosmetic manufacturers and have always been transparent.”
The FDA says “the company … did not address safety concerns related to hair loss. We do not know if the company has other safety data, and we do not have the legal authority to require a cosmetics firm to provide product safety information.”
A law that’s been in effect since 1938 gives the FDA limited power to regulate the $62 billion cosmetics industry.
“We’re talking baby wipes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, hair gel,” attorney Tina Sigurdson, who is with the Environmental Working Group, told CBS News.
“There’s no legal requirement that a company makes sure a product is safe before they sell it,” she said to CBS News.
“FDA has no access to safety records. They have no legal power to get those. Only Congress can give them that power,” Sigurdson said.
WEN products are still on shelves. The company says “the truth is that there are many reasons why people suffer from hair loss, but using Wen is not one of them.”
Eliana and Miriam Lawrence are now part of a class action lawsuit against Wen.