In December of 2020, two women filed a class-action lawsuit against TRESemmé for failing to warn them about the side effects of the dangerous chemicals used in their shampoo products.
According to Shannon Keener and Robyn Lipetz – the plaintiffs in the suit – Unilever United States Inc., the manufacturer of the TRESemmé line of hair care products, should be held liable for the hair loss and scalp injuries they and other consumers suffered as a result of using their products.
The TRESemmé lawsuit has grown since then, with several other victims filing similar class action suits against the beauty conglomerate. This article takes an in-depth look at everything you need to know about the TRESemmé hair loss lawsuit.
TRESemmé Keratin Shampoo
The TRESemmé shampoo ingredients contain a chemical preservative known as DMDM hydantoin, a compound that’s closely related to formaldehyde. It works to extend the shampoo’s shelf-life by preventing microbes from invading the water-based solvents in the product.
Formaldehyde is a wildly carcinogenic chemical compound. When absorbed into the skin, it can cause cancer in addition to several other adverse reactions.
The fact that TRESemmé shampoo is directly applied to the scalp exposes consumers to these risks. According to the suit, the use of DMDM hydantoin in the products is unnecessary since several other safer alternatives on the market don’t use it in their ingredients.
Unilever’s failure to warn customers about the presence of this harmful chemical and the risk it poses for causing scalp injuries and hair loss amounts to a breach of contract, breach of common law, breach of express, breach of an implied warranty, unjust enrichment, and fraud.
The TRESemmé line of keratin shampoos and conditioners are marketed as products that “repair hair,” “gently cleanse,” “deeply and nourish,” and “add shine” to hair.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s even more surprising is that the TRESemmé hair loss class action suit is not the first time Unilever is fighting similar legal actions.
The Suave Professionals Keratin Lawsuit
In 2012, Unilever recalled the Suave Professionals range of keratin products and paid $10.2 million in settlements for the class action suit they were facing at the time.
Customers who used the products suffered from hair loss, scalp irritation, and blisters, many of whom had to seek medical treatment from healthcare professionals.
Unilever did not put any warning label on the product packaging, marketing materials, or website to warn consumers that Suave products could put them at risk of suffering significant scalp injuries and hair loss.
In the 2020 TRESemmé class-action lawsuit, the plaintiffs state that Unilever has known about the DMDM hydantoin side effects for 10 or so years. The company has been aware that the formaldehyde donor it uses in its products can contribute to or cause hair loss and scalp irritation.
The company acted negligently in failing to protect and warn consumers despite having prior knowledge of the dangers the chemical in their products posed.
What the FDA Has to Say About It
The TRESemmé range of keratin shampoos and conditioners are marketed as products that help consumers “achieve silky smooth hair,” making it straight and less frizzy.
According to the latest consumer updates from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most hair smoothing products usually release formaldehyde gas, which is known to be a cancer-causing agent.
Inhaling formaldehyde fumes or getting it absorbed by your skin can irritate the eyes, nose, and lungs. It can also cause allergic dermatitis or extreme skin sensitivity.
The potential health risks of formaldehyde exposure depend on the concentration of the chemical in the product and the length of time the user is exposed to it.
Some individuals are more sensitive to it than others and are, therefore, more likely to experience adverse reactions to the products that have it as an ingredient.
Laws on Personal Care and Beauty Products
The country has laws dating as far back as 1938, with provisions for the regulatory oversight of personal care and beauty products. Technically-speaking, the FDA doesn’t have the authority to approve personal care products.
However, several pending bills propose to expand the FDA’s regulatory role to include overseeing the safe manufacture and distribution of cosmetic products in the US.
Congress enacted the Federal Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA) to allow the FDA to regulate personal care and beauty products – to a certain extent.
While the FDA does not have the authority to approve these commodities, the FFDCA makes it illegal to market adulterated or misbranded cosmetics. This means it can remove products that contain unsafe ingredients or those that are not labeled correctly.
The Personal Care Product Safety Act is a bipartisan bill introduced to the Senate in March of 2019. If enacted, the legislation would expand the scope of the FFDCA, requiring cosmetic companies to register with the FDA and submit a comprehensive list of all the ingredients used in their products.
The Act further gives the FDA the power to discontinue the distribution of and issue recalls for dangerous products with hazardous ingredients.
Product Liability Lawsuits and Claims
If TRESemmé or any other personal care product has injured you, you may have a solid basis for a product liability suit against:
- The product manufacturer
- The retail outlet or online store that sold you the product
- The beauty salon that used the product on your skin or hair
- A combination of the above
If you can prove that the at-fault party acted negligently and, therefore, failed in their “duty of care,” you can seek damages for:
- Medical bills
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred
- Loss of wages
- Pain and suffering
Courts usually rely on the strict product liability standard when it comes to injuries caused by personal care and beauty products. To win a case, you would need to prove that:
- The product was sold to you in an unreasonably hazardous condition
- You used the products exactly as indicated in the manufacturer’s directions
- The product was the direct cause of the injuries you sustained
- You have suffered verifiable damages
Negligence Leads to Lawsuits
Unilever United States Inc. had a legal duty of care to do everything possible, within reason, to prevent its consumers from suffering harm while using its products.
The TRESemmé line of keratin hair care products failed to deliver on this promise, and as a result, users suffered scalp injuries and hair loss.
The class action suit against the company is based on the fact that it acted negligently by including a potentially harmful ingredient in its products and failing to warn users of the risks of using their products.
Have you suffered injuries as a result of a personal care product you were using? Chat online with a Laws101 attorney today.