Unilever Inc. and Conopco Inc. have been sued by two individuals in a class action lawsuit. According to the plaintiffs in the TRESemme lawsuit, hair loss and scalp burns were induced by TRESemmé keratin products. Chemical preservatives that produce formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) have been blamed for the harm. Accordingly, the defendants assert that their products are safe for use. However, social media has helped the case acquire pace, making it more accessible to other would-be litigants and spawning other lawsuits.
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The Lawsuit’s Allegations
An earlier version of this action was brought in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by plaintiffs Lipetz and Keener against Unilever. There is now a new location for the case, the Northern District of Illinois. The case might be merged with other suits against the defendants in the new jurisdiction. TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Color Shampoo and TRESemmé Keratin Smoothing Shampoo are at issue. To sell its goods, the business claimed that keratin would make hair lustrous and silky.
A formaldehyde donor preservative by the name of DMDM hydantoin is used in these items. Formaldehyde donors are used in cosmetics to keep them fresh longer and keep microorganisms at bay. Formaldehyde is progressively released from a formaldehyde donor over time in modest volumes. A common preservative in shampoos, DMDM hydantoin is used at a concentration of up to 1%. DMDM hydantoin, a common allergen, has been studied and tested by scientists since the 1970s. DMDM hydantoin has been linked to allergic reactions in those who are sensitive to formaldehyde, according to the complaint. The quantity of formaldehyde released via the preservatives rose with longer storage durations and higher temperatures, according to a 2015 research. Hair loss and scalp irritation might occur as a result of the higher dosage.
The TRESemme lawsuit claims that TRESemmé’s keratin treatments have been causing allergic reactions in clients since at least 2013. Some consumers said that their hair fell out in clumps, leading to obvious bald areas, according to internet reviews. Others reported itching, drying, and irritation of the scalp.
Complaints about Suave’s Keratin Infusion are comparable to these allegations. A rival of TRESemmé’s, Suave, is owned by Unilever as well. According to the FDA, Unilever withdrew its Suave product in 2012 after receiving complaints of hair loss and an itchy scalp. After a lengthy legal battle, Unilever has agreed to pay out $10.2 million to its customers. DMDM hydantoin is said to have been known to Unilever since at least 2012, according to the plaintiffs, who cite Suave’s earlier lawsuit. Despite this, Unilever did not inform customers of the possible negative effects. Concerning the product safety, the corporation reportedly used deceptive and misleading techniques. DMDM hydantoin is also said to be superfluous by the plaintiffs, who assert that a safer option to preserving cosmetics might be used instead.
A similar complaint has already been filed in federal court in the United States. Cases similar to this one may be found in Castillo vs. Unilever USA Inc., et Al in the Northern District of Illinois; Libbey vs. Unilever United States, Inc.; and Arroyo vs. Unilever USA Inc. in the Northern District of California; all of which were filed in the Northern District of Illinois. All of these cases have been combined into one. Following the transfer order, parties agreed to submit a combined amended complaint and to extend the time for defendants’ response in order to streamline the litigation process.
Unilever’s Response to the TRESemmé Class Action
Unilever has always insisted that its products are safe. Our primary goal is ensuring the safety of our customers, which is why all TRESemmé products are put through a thorough testing process to ensure that they fulfill the most exacting safety requirements. In a public statement, the business noted that DMDM hydantoin is extensively used in the beauty sector and that health authorities have proven that it is safe and effective. Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical, according to supporters of DMDM hydantoin. Most living organisms create it as part of their usual metabolic activities. Because of this, they argue that the cosmetics concentration is safe.
TRESemmé’s class action depends on proving that DMDM hydantoin is responsible for hair damage and loss in the first place. It’s worth noting that the FDA has made an official statement on the subject. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its webpage in March about formaldehyde in heat-activated keratin products. Formaldehyde is a gas that is released into the air when these compounds are heated with a flat iron, according to the FDA. Inhaling more than 0.1 ppm of formaldehyde might lead to skin irritation and dermatitis.
It is recommended that only licensed hair stylists in a salon environment use these products, as the FDA does. There is no mention of formaldehyde donors in household shampoos in the notification issued by the government agency concerned with this issue. Consumers are encouraged to examine the labels of hair smoothing products before using them at home. Formalin or methylene glycol in the ingredient list, according to the FDA, indicates the presence of formaldehyde or formaldehyde releasers in the product.
How Experts Weigh the TRESemmé Class Action?
Many specialists in the area of cosmetic chemistry, however, deny these assertions. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review found that it is safe for usage in cosmetics at suitable levels of concentration. Whether or not certain concentrations are safe will be determined in part by toxicologists and others working in the chemical safety sector. Formaldehyde is widely believed to cause cancer and other diseases at certain concentrations. But a lesser-known concern is whether the molecule DMDM hydantoin is progressively released to such a high degree. Consumer safety and marketing experts are expected to discuss whether Unilever is appropriately promoting the safety of its goods to the public. These experts also may examine whether Unilever is giving a complete ingredient list to customers.
Since social media has drawn so much attention, people are learning about how these nutrients interact with their bodies in a variety of different ways. This means that these cases will continue to increase in scope as these concerns become more widely publicized.
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