FDA Issues Safety Alert over Potential Hair Loss from Hair Care Product WEN by Chaz Dean

girl at the shower
girl at the shower

You may recall back in July when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a probe into the hair care product WEN by Chaz Dean over hair loss complaints and other reports. CBS News has recently gotten wind of the investigation and their queries have indicated that Chaz Dean, Inc. may not be cooperating fully with the regulators.

For a quick recap: as of early July, the FDA had received about 127 reports regarding WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioners—the largest ever associated with a cosmetic hair cleanser. Chaz Dean, Inc. itself was found to have gotten over 21,000 complaints directly. The complaints included reports of hair loss, balding, and itching, some cases of which did not stop even when use of the product was halted.

Chaz Dean, Inc. has said that it made its formulas and ingredients with the FDA and that it meets and surpasses the agency’s requirements for manufacturing cosmetics, and that it has always been transparent with the authorities. The FDA, meanwhile, has been contesting that claim. The agency told CBS that Chaz Dean, Inc. has not addressed safety concerns regarding the hair loss complaints and hasn’t given the FDA its safety data, or even provided verification as to why it can’t be released.

The probe is further stymied by the fact that the FDA has much more limited authority to regulate cosmetics than it does drugs. Products such as toothpaste, shampoo, or hair conditioners do not need to prove that they are safe or effective before getting sold.

The FDA can only investigate when complaints arise, as in the case of Chaz Dean. Complicating matters further is that even when it is investigating, cosmetic companies do not need to provide safety information and the FDA has no legal ability to compel companies to provide that data. This gap in regulation is due to legislation dating back to 1938 and it will take an act of Congress to change.

For now, all the FDA can do is work with the information it has and encourage anyone who experiences a reaction after using one of the WEN by Chaz Dean hair care products to stop immediately and to report the event using the information provided here.

Duncan, J., “FDA issues safety alert for popular hair care product over hair loss complaints,” CBS News web site, August 18, 2016; http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fda-issues-safety-alert-for-popular-hair-care-product-over-hair-loss-complaints/, last accessed August 19, 2016.

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