TRESemmé is a popular brand of shampoo and other hair care products made by Unilever, Inc. Recently, consumers have filed lawsuits alleging that TRESemmé shampoo contains harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde that have caused users to suffer hair loss.
About Unilever and TRESemmé
Unilever is a major manufacturer of personal care products and it is the second leading manufacturer of shampoo in the world. TRESemmé is one of Unilever’s most popular hair care brands. The TRESemmé Products are sold directly by Unilever through retailers. Unilever promotes TRESemmé Products through labeling and advertising channels, including representations written or approved by Unilever on retail websites like Walmart.
TRESemmé shampoo products contain DMDM, a chemical that releases formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that has been show to cause harmful effects when applied to the skin. The product labels for TRESemmé do not provide warnings disclosing that the shampoo products contain DMDM.
TRESemmé Hair Loss Lawsuit
Unilever is now being sued by consumers alleging that they suffered hair loss and other issues from the harmful chemicals in TRESemmé shampoo products. The most recent TRESemmé hair loss lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by a Pennsylvania woman named Holly Schafer.
The lawsuit alleges that Unilever’s TRESemmé shampoo products are falsely and misleadingly marketed nationwide with claims on the labeling such as “deeply nourish,” “gently cleanse,” and “repair hair.” However, the lawsuit asserts that customers are exposed to DMDM hydantoin ingredients, which may lead to hair loss, allergic reactions, or irritation of the skin and scalp.
While formaldehyde-releasers are commonly used in shampoo and conditioner to prevent microbial growth in water-based products, the lawsuit argues that there are safer alternatives to DMDM hydantoin. Specifically, it cites the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifying formaldehyde as a human carcinogen and the National Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) identifying formaldehyde as a known carcinogen to humans.
The lawsuit points out that over the last 10 years, many companies have removed formaldehyde donors like DMDM from their cosmetics and shampoos. For instance, in 2012, Johnson & Johnson announced that it would “remove a host of potentially harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde, from its line of consumer products by the end of 2015.” Other manufacturers also removed DMDM from their personal care products, including shampoos, choosing instead to replace DMDM with a safer alternative, such as sodium benzoate. Likewise, in 2017, CVS Health announced that it would be removing “parabens, phthalates and the most prevalent formaldehyde donors (preservative ingredients that can release formaldehyde over time) from our store brand CVS Health, Beauty 360, Essence of Beauty, and Blade product lines” and that it planned to stop “shipping products that don’t meet these standards to our distribution centers by the end of 2019.”
The plaintiff, Ms. Schafer, claims to have experienced hair loss, thinning hair, and scalp irritation while using TRESemmé shampoo products. By 2021, she alleges experiencing abnormal hair loss, with clumps falling out after using these products, leading her to discontinue their use.
The lawsuit contends that Unilever has failed to warn customers adequately about the use of DMDM in its products, despite knowing about the associated side effects and risks to consumers’ hair and scalp for over a decade.
The TRESemmé shampoo lawsuit brings forth claims of manufacturing defects, design defects, failure to provide adequate warning, and negligence against Unilever. It seeks a jury trial to determine both compensatory and punitive damages.
Hair Relaxer Formaldehyde Lawsuits
The TRESemme lawsuit comes at a time when there are rising concerns about regarding the potential hazards linked to chemicals present in numerous commonly utilized hair care items. This concern has been amplified by recent research findings revealing undisclosed endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair relaxers, which may contribute to the development of uterine cancer.
Recent scientific research has brought to light a potential link between extended use of hair relaxers and an increased incidence of uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer, ranking as the fourth most common cancer among women, sees approximately 65,000 new cases reported annually in the United States, accounting for roughly 3.5% of all cancer cases. Notably, the incidence of uterine cancer is twice as high in Black women compared to White women in the country.
In a groundbreaking study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022, researchers investigated the correlation between hair relaxer usage and cancer over a decade-long study. This extensive research analyzed cancer incidence rates among women who regularly used hair relaxers versus those who did not.
The study’s compelling findings revealed that women who used hair relaxers were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with uterine cancer compared to non-users. Furthermore, a more significant increase in uterine cancer incidence was observed among women who reported frequent use of hair relaxers. Essentially, the study provided the first epidemiologic evidence establishing a clear and direct link between hair relaxer use and uterine cancer. This led to a wave of hair relaxer lawsuits.