How to Know If Your Beauty Products Could Cause Hair Loss

hair coming out in chunks on a combRemember we told you how 200 women have filed a class action lawsuit against the WEN hair care line, saying that using the products caused severe (and, honestly, pretty heartbreaking) hair loss? Well, the case just got a lot more serious, and whether you use the WEN line or not, you should still be cautious.


For starters, the allegations against WEN seem far more serious than initial reports show. Yes, only 200 women are part of the lawsuit. ("Only.")

But the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit committed to protecting human health and the environment, is investigating the claims. And according to the court documents they've seen, 17,000 women have filed complaints with Guthy-Renker, the marketing firm behind the supposedly all-natural shampoo/conditioner. (As well as the skin care juggernaut ProActiv.)


And these women didn't just call and say, "Hey, I don't really like this shampoo." They allegedly each took the time to fill out a lengthy 25-question survey, detailing their horrific experiences.

But here's the (even more) disturbing part. Under current federal regulations, Guthy-Renker didn't have to alert the Food and Drug Administration to these complaints. (And didn't.)

In fact, the law that regulates hair care products is so woefully outdated (as in mostly unchanged since 1938), NO personal care product is required to be tested before it hits the shelves and you use it on your hair.

Are we the only ones who find that frightening?

We have no idea what chemicals -- and potential toxins or allergens -- we're lathering into our hair every day. Or what havoc it could wreak.

More from The Stir: 5 Chemical-Free Beauty Brands You Should Own Instead of Those Toxic Ones

So what the heck's in WEN products that's causing such widespread hair loss? "At this time, we don't know," says Johanna Congleton, MSPH, PhD, a senior scientists with EWG. "What's more troubling is the FDA doesn't know."

You may be thinking, "Whew! I don't use WEN -- dodged that bullet." But, well, maybe not.

Some hair care products could STILL be a bad choice for your health.

"Some of the ingredients -- particularly fragrance components -- used in shampoos and personal care products are potent sensitizers, meaning they can cause allergies in otherwise healthy people," Congleton says. "These reactions can be severe."

The FDA doesn't require companies to disclose what chemicals are in their fragrance mix, so if you see the words "fragrance" on the back of a bottle, proceed with caution.

Dark, permanent hair dyes and chemical hair straighteners should also be on your "do not buy" list. Both are chock-full of dangerous chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancer.

So what is safe to use on your hair? You can check out EWG's SkinDeep cosmetic database, which rates products according to safety. Or maybe now's the time to start playing it super-safe and thinking about simply making your own shampoo.



Image via PANORAMe/Shutterstock

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