HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A celebrity hairstylist is at the center of a lawsuit involving people from all over the country who have come forward to claim that his hair-care products have caused them scalp irritation, hair loss and more.
Entrepreneur Tanya Norman, who also specializes in brand development for a creative agency, is one of these people. Six months after trying the WEN hair product, Norman says she was alarmed at what happened.
"I had started to get a bald spot, and then I found another one in the back, and that's when I kind of started to get worried," Norman said. "I started bawling. I couldn't stop crying."
An online searched revealed that she was not alone and that there were others who had similar experiences.
Now, attorney Amy Davis is representing nearly 200 plaintiffs from over 40 different states who are part of a mass-action lawsuit against WEN by Chaz Dean Inc. and marketer Guthy-Renker.
"Some of the men and women that we represented, looks like they had a weed whacker taken to their head," Davis described. "Just hair breaking all over."
Dean, who developed the WEN hair-product line, has a hair-care studio in Hollywood, and celebrities such as Brooke Shields, Angie Harmon and Alyssa Milano endorse WEN.
Davis, however, states that the product traps dirt, oil and debris in the hair follicle and causes scalp irritation.
"What we understand about the product and how it causes hair loss is it contains virtually no cleanser," Davis said. "It's like using lotion to wash your hair, so instead of removing the product, when you rinse it off, it just becomes impacted in your hair follicle."
Davis went on to claim that the celebrity endorsements made women, men and even children believe in the product.
"Their testimonials and Chaz Dean saying that he is the stylist to the who's-who in Hollywood really made these men and women believe they could trust the product," Davis said. "Kiddos, kiddos that we represent, have lost nearly all of their hair."
While Dean and Guthy-Renker declined to be interviewed on camera, they released a statement that reads:
"We take great pride in the quality of our products and believe every product meets our high standards. We want all of our customers to have positive experiences with our products. With well over 10 million WEN products shipped since 2008, our customers' overwhelmingly positive response to WEN is a testament to the benefits it can deliver for its users. These benefits are reflected in consistently high rankings from independent consumer product sites as well. Importantly, there is no scientific evidence to support any claim that our hair care products caused anyone to lose their hair. There are many reasons why individuals may lose their hair, all unrelated to WEN hair products. We intend to vigorously contest the allegations made against our products. And, we encourage any customer with any questions to contact us."
Norman, meanwhile, now applies a topical medicine and has received 14 cortizone injections in her bald spots. She says that despite her embarrassment, she believes going public with her experience may help others.
"The hair that's regrowing is very, very fine and brittle. This is something that for me has been very, very embarrassing," Norman said. "There are a lot of us out there that have been dealing with this issue. You're not alone."
The federal judge has issued a stay in the case, and the parties are proceeding to mediation.
for more features.