TRESemmé hair care allegedly causes hair loss

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Photo of TRESemmé hair care products credit to: Gimme Graphic courtesy of Taylor Crawford

We have all heard of the hair care product line, TRESemmé, but have you heard of the allegations against the popular brand? Who knew that washing your hair could be so dangerous?! 

In December 2020, two women filed a class-action lawsuit against the well-known hair care product brand, TRESemmé. They attest that the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Color products caused them injuries.  

According to the complaint that was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on December 17th, 2020, Robyn Lipetz and Shannon Keener suffered painful scalp burns and hair loss from use of the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Color shampoo and conditioner.  

Lipetz purchased the Keratin Smooth Color shampoo in the months of January and February and used the product for two weeks. She stopped using the product after she says she noticed bald spots and experienced “redness, hotness and itchiness” on her scalp. 

Keener’s experience seemed to be more severe. Keener purchased the same shampoo as Lipetz along with the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Color conditioner. According to the class action lawsuit, she had to seek medical treatment after using the product for two months. 

“Keener noticed scalp irritation, blisters, pimples, and a burning sensation on her scalp after the first few uses,” the class action lawsuit states. “After continued use of the products [she] also began experiencing hair loss, where clumps of hair would fall out when showering, brushing, or even touching her hair.” 

“I never experienced any burn or hair loss when using TRESemmé products,” Katie Arzate (‘23) said. I really liked the smell of the shampoo and conditioner, however it never really helped much with my thick hair. So, I switched to another brand that is better for my hair type.” 

Both women claim that Unilever United States Inc., the manufacturer of the line of TRESemmé hair care products, and Conopco Inc., TRESemmé distributer, should be held liable for the serious damage they have caused consumers.  

Their class action lawsuit says the chemical DMDM hydantoin which is related to formaldehyde, caused their scalp injuries and hair loss. 

Another class action was filed by Emily Castillo in the United States District court, Northern District of Illinois on November 16th, 2020 with the same allegations.  

“Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can cause cancer, and other less harmful reactions, when absorbed into the skin, which tends to happen when applied directly to the scalp, for instance,” said Jennifer L. Henn from Top Class Actions, an online legal site that reports on class action lawsuits and settlements. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, such as the DMDM hydantoin in TRESemmé keratin shampoo, may prevent microbes from forming in water-based substances.” 

The class action lawsuit claims TRESemmé’s use of the chemical is unnecessary because there are safer alternatives on the market today. 

According to the Personal Care Products Council, preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin that “slowly releasing small, safe amounts of formaldehyde over time” help prevent harmful mold and bacteria,” said ChemicalSafetyFacts.org, which provides chemical safety information.  

“A recent safety assessment published in the International Journal of Toxicology reaffirmed that formaldehyde can be used safely in cosmetics if established safety limited are not exceeded,” said ChemistrySafetyFacts.org. “The Cosmetics Directive of the European Union also has approved DMDM hydantoin as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products at a maximum concentration of 0.6 percent.  

The class action lawsuit alleges that Conopco and Unilever have violated the Consumer Protection Law, Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices, and consumer fraud laws. The lawsuit also claims that since the company did not warn customers about the presence of DMDM hydantoin in the keratin products and the risk it poses to consumers, it is a breach of express, contract/common law, unjust enrichment, implied warranty, and fraud.  

“For approximately a decade or longer, Unilever has known that DMDM hydantoin can cause or contribute to hair loss and scalp irritation when used as a preservative in hair products, including keratin products, the class action lawsuit says. 

Unilever has faced the same type of lawsuit in the past with its relation to Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion product line.  

“The company recalled the Suave products in 2012,” Henn said. “And agreed to pay $10.2 million to settle that class action lawsuit in 2014.” 

Keener and Lipetz want to represent a Class of TRESemmé customers who purchased the keratin products and experienced damage from them. Their lawyer claims there are “thousands, if not hundreds of thousands” of potential Class Members. 

According to PacerMonitor, the Defendants in the Keener lawsuit have not yet responded to the Plaintiff’s allegations. 

If you have experienced hair loss or scalp burns while using TRESemmé’s Keratin Smooth Color shampoo or conditioner, you may be entitled to a refund. 

Note: When I went to my local Walmart to try to find the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Color shampoo or conditioner, I found out they did not have the product for sale.