In 2015, The Daily Beast (12/10/15) reported that 200 women in 40 states had filed suits against WEN, claiming they suffered hair loss, scalp damage and other problems after using WEN. WEN is sold as being sulfate-free, but plaintiffs allege they developed side effects of using WEN within weeks of starting the hair care products. Amy Friedman, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits, claims it took three weeks and substantial vitamin intake to stop her hair loss.
“The hair loss is not de minimus - consumers who suffer hair loss often lose one quarter to one third of their hair, or more,” Friedman's lawsuit alleges. “As a result, beyond the cost of the Products, consumers are forced to undertake a variety of costly efforts to regain their hair and mask the ill effects of the Products.”
Guthy-Renker has denied its WEN products are defective or cause hair loss. Although WEN is marketed as being sulfate-free, it still contains many ingredients commonly found in other hair care products. Hair loss can also be attributed to other factors, including genetics and use of styling tools such as flat irons, meaning plaintiffs will have to work hard to prove WEN is the cause of the hair loss.
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In response to initial lawsuits being filed, Guthy-Renker filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuits on the grounds that clients who purchased WEN hair care products online agreed to binding arbitration. In issuing his ruling on the motion to dismiss the WEN lawsuits, Judge Otis D. Wright granted part of the motion to dismiss but denied another part, stating that not all customers who purchased WEN online had proper inquiry notice of the arbitration terms.
The Friedman lawsuit is Friedman et al. v. Guthy-Renker, case number 2:14-cv-06009, in US District Court, Central District of California.