Why the FDA Is Investigating This Hair Product (And Why You Should Care)

If you’ve got any WEN hair products in your shower, heads up: The Food and Drug Administration just launched an investigation into WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products after receiving 127 reports of the conditioner causing itching, rashes, hair loss, balding and other symptoms.

Linda Katz, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors, tells NPR that the FDA has no reason to think that the conditioner products were contaminated. And keep in mind that there are plenty of ingredients normally found in hair products—not just WEN’s—that can cause an adverse reaction. Here’s what you need to know about the products in your bathroom:

How the FDA approves cosmetics products

It doesn’t. Though the FDA does set upper limits for bacteria in cosmetics and hygiene products and approve color additives, it doesn’t approve cosmetics before they hit shelves—that’s up to the manufacturers. That rule applies to “products intended to cleanse or beautify,” just FYI, like nail polish, moisturizers, lipsticks, shampoos and makeup. It doesn’t apply to products that treat disease or affect the function of the body, like acne products or dandruff treatments—those do need to be approved by the FDA.

Fragrance is an umbrella term

That thing that makes your shampoo smell like coconut? That’s the “fragrance” on the ingredients label. It’s a generic term, the Environmental Working Group says, “for any cocktail of chemicals used to make a product smell good.” But smelling good doesn’t mean it’s good for you. “These mixtures can contain individual ingredients linked to cancer, endocrine disruption and serious allergic reactions. By using the catchall term ‘fragrance’ on the label, cosmetic companies such as Dean’s can avoid telling consumers the whole truth about what’s in the bottle,” the EWG warns.

Plant-based and natural doesn’t mean better

Got an itchy scalp even though you were careful to buy a natural shampoo? Keep in mind that you can be allergic to the plant-based ingredients in hair and makeup products. Last year, hair products labeled hypoallergenic and all-natural were even found to contain methylchloroisothiazolinone, a preservative associated with reports of itchy skin, redness, peeling and cracking. The lesson: don’t believe the marketing—read the ingredients list and do your research. Words like “hypoallergenic” or “natural” aren’t often backed up; they can “mean anything or nothing at all,” according to the FDA.

Ingredients to look out for

In addition to fragrance, look for propylene glycol and acrylates on your bottles of hair spray and other styling products—both ingredients can be responsible for redness, irritation, and swelling, dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann tells the Miami Herald. When it comes to conditioner, acne sufferers may want to stay away from isopropyl myristate, which can aggravate acne when it comes in contact with your face, back and chest while you’re showering. “Make a note when you have a problem and consider what products you used in the previous 24 hours,” Dr. Baumann suggests. “Then read those labels and see if you can identify the culprit. If you still can’t figure it out, see your dermatologist for patch testing so you can avoid the offender in the future.”

 

131 comments

John B
John B2 years ago

Thanks Diana for sharing the important info.

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Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers2 years ago

I almost bought this product. Glad I didn't.

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Arbella J.
.2 years ago

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

thanks

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Marija Mohoric
Marija M2 years ago

tks for sharing

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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federico bortoletto

Grazie delle informazioni.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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