For years, women depended on TRESemme hair care products to keep their hair clean and looking its absolute best at all times. The product was trusted by people to do the job it was designed to do. For many years, the products that were produced by the company seemed to do exactly that. However, all of that changed when a class action lawsuit was brought against the company claiming that ingredients contained in their products were actually causing women to lose their hair. At first, it seemed like there might not be a lot to the claims themselves. Perhaps it was nothing more than inadvertently associating a product with something that happened for some other reason. However, more and more individuals started to come forward. Before long, it became evident that there was a potential problem. Eventually, that problem spiraled into a large class action lawsuit that eventually saw the company responsible for these products, Unilever, taking some action of its own.
The History Behind the Company
TRESemme hair products were first introduced in 1947. At the time, it wasn’t possible to merely walk into your local drug or discount store and purchase one of their products directly off the shelf. Instead, the products were available for sale through licensed stylists. Many people would get their hair styled at these shops and then they could purchase the products for themselves through the same shop. In 1968, Alberto bought the company that was responsible for making TRESemme hair products. For years and years, people continued to buy their products with confidence, as the brand had proven over the years that it could indeed be trusted. The problem is, things changed over the years and in the late 1990s, Unilever bought the rights to the product from Alberto. At that time, the product became widely available in all types of stores, ranging from department stores to discount stores and virtually everything in between. You no longer had to go to a stylist in order to purchase the products, but you could go to your local drugstore or in some cases, even the local grocery store and make your purchases. Unfortunately, many people also began to speculate that while the product had become more widely available, that the scrutiny with which it had been manufactured in the past was also waning. To put it bluntly, a lot of people were concerned that it was no longer the high-quality product that it had once been.
A New Product Line Launches
This eventually prompted the company to launch a separate product line that was called TRESemme Naturals. They claimed that it had keratin and other natural products in it that would not only make your hair look softer and shinier, but help it grow faster than it had ever grown in the past, all while keeping every hair follicle as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, they were also using some chemicals that weren’t exactly natural. This would eventually become the source of the class-action lawsuit. In order to fully understand what happened here, it’s necessary to take a walk through the entire process regarding the lawsuit and why it matters so much, not only to the people that used to use the product, but for consumers in general.
Marketed as Natural But Made in a Lab
The problems started when two women came forward with claims that the shampoo that they had been using, TRESemme Naturals, not only made their hair fall out, but also caused severe burns to their scalp. According to these two women, using the product caused chemical burns that were so severe that they ultimately resulted in hair loss. Furthermore, both of these women stated that they were burned so severely on their scalp that their hair is highly unlikely to ever grow back in a normal manner. The fact that only two women had come forward might not seem like a big deal, at least at first. However, the case really started to gain some momentum when several other women started to come forward with similar claims. It was definitely these two who were the frontrunners, but several more have come on board since. In fact, more and more individuals are coming on board with this class action lawsuit all the time.
The Chemical at the Center of the Controversy
As it turns out, there is a particular chemical that the company used in the manufacturing process that is anything but a natural product, something that is especially important when you consider the fact that they actually marketed this particular product as being all natural. The chemical is called DMDM hydantoin. Surprisingly, it is a byproduct of formaldehyde, the very same thing that is often used to preserve specimens in a lab. Years ago, formaldehyde was also used to preserve certain wood products that were used in mobile homes. Manufacturers of mobile homes were forced to stop using formaldehyde because it was giving off such powerful fumes that people were going to look at these houses, which had been closed up all day long and sitting in the heat, only to walk around in them for several minutes. A lot of people were reporting stinging in their nose and eyes and many reported severe headaches. In some cases, the reactions were far more severe. That sets the precedent for the potential level of danger associated with formaldehyde and its by-products. The very idea that something like this could potentially be found in a shampoo seems shocking, to say the least. Having it in something that has been marketed as all natural takes things to another level entirely.
The Class-Action Lawsuit
So far, there are a number of details known about this class action lawsuit, not the least of which involves the fact that the two original plaintiffs are suing not only Unilever Corporation, but also their umbrella corporation, Conopco Incorporated. If you’re curious as to why they are suing both companies, it comes back to their claim that the parent company, Conopco Incorporated, knew that Unilever was utilizing a product that was known to cause hair loss as a direct result of severe chemical burns. According to the lawsuit, they continued to put this particular chemical in their product despite having that knowledge. There are details in the lawsuit that say that the company was aware of the potential for this particular chemical to cause severe chemical burns for as long as 10 years prior to these two women bringing a lawsuit against the company. The question then has to be asked, why wasn’t something done about this a long time ago? If the company did indeed know that they were utilizing a potentially dangerous chemical, why did they continue using it? Were they merely hoping that no one would ever experience any type of issues with it and nothing would be said? Was it done as a means of cutting costs because it would have cost more to do the proper research and development in order to find something safer? All of these questions are now being asked and played out in real time in a courtroom. In fact, that is precisely why there is a lawsuit against the company to begin with, as the people who brought the lawsuit against them believe that they had concrete knowledge that their product was dangerous, yet they continued to use it because it was done as a cost-saving measure.
The Science Behind the Claims
The lawsuit sounds credible, not to mention a little bit scary. That said, you have to ask yourself whether or not the science behind the claims backs up the things that are being said. In this particular case, the science is pretty clear and it says that these claims are more or less rubbish. As a matter of fact, there is a great deal of science that indicates that this exact same chemical is used in a number of other cosmetic products, including other shampoos made by other companies. According to cosmetic scientists, there is no case in which there is enough of this chemical to cause problems because it is all carefully regulated by the FDA. As such, it is virtually impossible for a product to cause chemical burns to the scalp or to cause hair loss when that product has been used according to the directions that are included on it. Therefore, one of two things must have happened in order for a product to be responsible for causing something like this. The first is that the individual in question isn’t using it as directed and the second is that something else entirely is going on here. It’s important to note that in both cases, the product named was a keratin product. Many cosmetic scientists believe that this is actually the root cause of the problem.
Keratin Doesn’t Always Work for Hair
The issue is that keratin doesn’t always work well for her. Everybody knows that the thing that causes hair to fall out is when the hair follicles become clogged, effectively stopping hair growth from that particular follicle. This can happen surprisingly quickly when you use keratin products because the protein that is present has a tendency to coat the hair follicles as if there is no tomorrow. As those follicles become coated and completely closed off, the hair begins to fall out. It is plausible that this is actually what happened and that the chemical burns to the scalps of the plaintiffs were actually caused by some other type of treatment that they were undergoing in an attempt to slow the rate of hair loss they were experiencing. No one can determine with any level of accuracy whether or not that is precisely how the course of events unfolded, at least not yet. However, it is something worth considering. It’s also worth noting that the chemical contained in these shampoos is a chemical that is widely used in shampoos made by many companies as well as a lot of other cosmetic products. If that was the cause of the chemical burns to the scalp, wouldn’t it make sense that a lot more people would be coming forward with similar issues?
Whatever the reason might be, TRESemme decided to discontinue the products that were in question, both of them natural keratin shampoos, in December of 2020. Despite that fact, the lawsuit continues on. Most people seem to be under the impression that the company was openly admitting guilt for selling a faulty product simply because they discontinued the product in question. That isn’t necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, it was largely a public relations move on their part. In addition, the company clearly doesn’t want to have any more people coming forward saying that they are having a problem with these products. As a result, this was probably done for both public relations and financial reasons, to go ahead and discontinue the product line as opposed to allowing more people to buy it and then giving them the opportunity to jump on the class action lawsuit bandwagon as time went on. This way, they are essentially limiting their exposure to this particular issue, a move that a lot of companies make to protect themselves when things get a little bit dodgy. It in no way should be taken as an admission of guilt, only that the company has their own best interest in mind and they’re trying to preserve their reputation as much as possible.
Will these plaintiffs that brought a class action lawsuit against Unilever actually see any money in the long run? It’s highly unlikely that they will ever get more than a few dollars, if that. In fact, they’ll probably be lucky to get enough to cover their court costs and it will almost certainly won’t cover their attorney fees. Nevertheless, it is an active lawsuit and it remains to be seen how things will eventually play out. For now, TRESemme continues with their original product line and the lawsuit and all of the legal processes that are associated with it are continuing to play out as well. The truth is, it could continue to do so for a number of years.