House Dem probes WEN hair loss complaints

House Dem probes WEN hair loss complaints
© Greg Nash

The ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is demanding answers after more than 17,000 customers complained about hair loss after using WEN haircare products.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) this week sent letters to both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Georg Richter, the president and CEO of the product's manufacturer, asking why consumers are complaining about significant hair loss, visible bald spots, hair breakage and scalp irritation. One customer reported that they continued to lose hair for three weeks after they had stopped using the product.

"Consumers deserve to know that they are making safe choices when they purchase cosmetics," Pallone said in a news release. "Unfortunately, since popular cosmetics and personal care products are largely unregulated before they reach the marketplace, these products can contain harmful chemicals that have the potential to put consumers at risk.”

The product’s manufacturer, Guthy-Renker LLC, has reportedly denied any safety issues associated with its cleansing conditioner despite consumer complaints that date back to 2008.

In his letter to Richter, Pallone requested a briefing with staffers "as soon as possible." He also requested copies of commissioned assessments, documents related to product testing, a detailed timeline of the company’s interactions and communications with the FDA and all communications from the company relating to the potential side effects or safety issues with WEN products. 

Pallone asked the FDA when and how it first became aware of the safety issues associated with WEN Cleaning Conditioner, what steps, if any, it took to address those issues and what information Guthy-Renker has shared with the agency.

Pallone also wants to know whether the FDA had access to any of the company’s safety records, if it has conducted any inspections, if the agency has requested a product recall and if the agency has sufficient authority now to oversee the product.