Catastrophic Injuries Caused by Hair Care Products

Hair care products have taken over entire aisles in major stores across the country.  No matter what our hair type, we have a myriad of options to change up our hairstyles as often as we change our clothes.  Curly, straight, frizz-free, glossy, spiked, frosted, dyed, and any combination in between are all options people choose for their hair every day.  But what happens when the hair care products helping you get that desired look damage your hair, your skin, or even leave you bald?  These are real-life situations some very unlucky people have faced, all because of unsafe chemicals in many hair care products.

Recently, a woman was awarded an $825,000 settlement in a product liability burn injury lawsuit against hair product manufacturers.  In 2014, The Reinartz Law Firm, LLC, who represented the plaintiff in this case, stated that:

A product liability lawsuit against the manufacturers of a hair gel product and hot straightening comb recently settled for $825,000.  The plaintiff suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to her head and neck when she applied Blue Duchess Lustre Sheen to her hair and then attempted to use a pre-heated Kentucky-Maid brand straightening comb, which ignited the gel.  Plaintiff’s burn injuries required an 18 day stay in a burn center, where she underwent hydrotherapy and debridement.  She currently suffers from permanent scarring and post-traumatic stress and anxiety.  Plaintiff sued the manufacturers of the hair gel product and the comb and relied on the testimony of a flammability expert who opined that the gel contained higher than appropriate levels of petrolatum, a flammable substance.  The case settled prior to trial.

Even hair product company giants like WEN, with infomercials and celebrity endorsers, have come under fire with a safety alert.  The United States Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert for the WEN line of cleansing conditioners due to reports of hair loss, rashes, and even balding.

As Dr. Shezad Malik wrote on the Dallas Fort Worth Injury Lawyer Blog:

After hundreds of complaints from consumers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a safety alert regarding the line of cleansing hair conditioners by Wen. These products are already part of an ongoing class-action lawsuit from 2014 over claims that it may cause hair loss.

127 incidents of adverse effects caused by the WEN products were reported to the FDA. Included in these reports were incidents of hair loss and breakage, balding, itching and rashes. The number of FDA complaints represents the largest number of reports ever associated with any cosmetic hair product. The FDA is also investigating an additional 21,000 complaints that were made directly to the WEN hair product manufacturer after the FDA discovered these complaints during an inspection.

The FDA has not yet determined a possible cause for the adverse events that have been reported, and today has called on the company to “provide any data that might help us to better understand the reports of hair loss associated with the use of WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products.” The FDA also has reached out to physicians and other health care providers asking them to notify their patients of hair loss and other complaints associated with the use of these products and to report adverse events to the agency.

The FDA recommends consumers who have experienced adverse reactions to stop using the product and to seek advice from their health care provider.

A spokesperson for the WEN hair product manufacturer says that its products “meet or exceed safety and quality standards set by the cosmetics industry” and that there “is no evidence that WEN products cause hair loss.”

Although the exact cause of the adverse effects remain unknown, WEN products use two ingredients – methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone – that have been linked to skin, eye, and lung irritation. 

Next time you reach for a hair care product, don’t just look at what style it claims to give your hair.  Read the ingredients and consider what damaging effects that product may have on your hair, scalp, skin, eyes, and even lungs.  Dangerous chemicals are lurking everywhere.  Research hair products before you apply them.  Take the time to really care what you put in your hair.  The shocking truth is, some of those products may just leave you bald!


Reinartz, Rich.  (2014, December 10).  “$825,000 Settlement In Product Liability Burn Injury Lawsuit Against Hair Product Manufacturers.”  Retrieved from

Malik, Shezad.  (2016, August 8).  “FDA issues warning on WEN hair products.”  Retrieved from