Popular Hair Care Brand Olaplex Under Fire for Allegedly Causing Hair Loss
The company rose to popularity on social media, with the help of influencers and celebrities.
The rise of social media influencers has turned hair care into one of the most popular topics of discussion, with people using their platforms to provide recommendations or promote their brand deals. Olaplex rose to fame on social media services like TikTok, where it was hailed as a solution for damaged hair and a way to keep it protected in the future. Now, however, Olaplex is facing a lawsuit from a group of customers who allege that these products cause hair loss. Read on to find out more about their claims, and how Olaplex has responded.
READ THIS NEXT: Thyroid Medication Recalled, FDA Says in New Warning.
Olaplex is supposed to repair damaged hair, but the lawsuit says it does the opposite.
On Feb. 9, 30 consumers sued Olaplex, Bloomberg reported. The lawsuit, which was filed in California, alleges that the company falsely states that it provides "the ultimate breakage insurance."
Olaplex's website outlines the system it uses to "noticeably repair extremely damaged hair" by restoring broken hair bonds. An ingredient developed by Olaplex fixes these bonds, per the company website.
However, the plaintiffs claim that Olaplex knowingly uses ingredients that make products "unreasonably dangerous." Lilial, which can cause allergic reactions, was used in Olaplex products until last year, Insider reported. The chemical was banned from hair products in the European Union in 2020. Olaplex removed lilial (which can also cause infertility issues) in 2021, and put out a new formulation in 2022, per Today. But that doesn't seem to be the only concern.
"Far from repairing and protecting hair from damage, the products have instead left plaintiffs' hair dry, brittle, frizzy and dull," the lawsuit states. Some consumers even claim that they had "open sores" and "burning" on their scalps after using the products. Others said they'd lost hair, experienced "bald spots," and had "dry, brittle" hair, Insider reported, citing the lawsuit.
Consumers said they experienced issues after using Olaplex No. 0 to No. 9 products, which include shampoo, conditioner, bonding oil, hair serum, and a hair mask.
Customers said they learned of Olaplex via social media influencers.
The plaintiffs are calling on Olaplex to stop making misleading statements, including those that came from celebrities and influencers, Insider reported. The lawsuit claims that these promoters were given marketing materials and training in order to advertise the product and make "false or misleading statements."
Plaintiffs are also looking for at least $75,000 in monetary damages, accusing Olaplex of not properly addressing consumer complaints. According to the lawsuit, Olaplex customers were forced to go from "doctor to doctor desperate for answers," which they say they wouldn't have had to do if the company were more transparent about the complaints it received.
"Defendants have been dismissive of their customers' hair loss, instead describing hair shedding as normal and unavoidable and attributing the hair loss to a long list of other potential causes," the lawsuit states, per Insider.
Olaplex denied the allegations.
In a statement to Best Life, an Olaplex spokesperson said that company products "do not cause hair loss or hair breakage."
"We have full confidence and believe in the safety and efficacy of our products, which are thoroughly tested in-house and by independent third-party laboratories," the spokesperson said. "OLAPLEX products are safe and effective, as millions of our customers can happily attest. There are a wide variety of reasons for hair breakage or hair loss, as medical and scientific experts have publicly stated, including lifestyle, various medical conditions and medications, the aftereffects of COVID, skin conditions and more."
The statement goes on to recommend that those with hair breakage consult their stylist or dermatologist "to best understand their unique hair and skin needs." Per the spokesperson, Olaplex is "prepared to vigorously defend our Company, our brand, and our products against these baseless accusations."
These complaints emerged before the lawsuit.
In Dec. 2022, customers reported that Olaplex issued refunds after they reported hair loss or damage. The conversation continued this year, with Insider interviewing 10 people who reported negative effects from Olaplex products, which they then spoke out about on social media.
Still, it's not clear what aspect of Olaplex's product line could be causing hair issues, or if the issues are related at all, according to Bloomberg. Before the new lawsuit was filed, Viktoryia Kazlouskaya, MD, PhD, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist at the University of Pittsburgh, told Insider that hair loss from shampoo or other topical treatments is rare—unless they have "allergenic ingredients."