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Olaplex hair products caused baldness and blisters, lawsuit alleges

Hair care brand Olaplex released the results of tests it says show that its products are safe to use after a group of consumers sued the brand, claiming its shampoos and conditioners cause hair loss and other injuries. 

On Wednesday, the company posted the outcomes of third-party lab tests the company says demonstrate that its products "do not cause hair loss or hair breakage."

Olaplex hair products went through human repeat insult patch tests (HRIPT), a standard evaluation for personal care products that tests for irritation and sensitization. If a product passes the test, that means it did not cause sensitivity in or inflame the skin or hair follicle, which is what causes hair loss. All Olaplex products passed the test, according to the published results. 

The data release comes after a group of roughly 30 consumers sued the hair care brand alleging that its products damaged their hair and scalps and left them with bald spots.

Olaplex Holdings markets its celebrity-endorsed products as a remedy for dry or damaged hair, claiming its formulas safely "restore damaged and compromised hair" and protect against breakage. 

The plaintiffs allege the Olaplex products do the opposite, leaving their hair "dry, brittle, frizzy and dull," according to the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in district court in California. One plaintiff said her hair became split and broken, making it look as if it had been cut using a "weedwhacker."

The plaintiffs also accuse Olaplex of dismissing their concerns and suggesting that hair shedding is either normal or attributable to other causes.

Collectively, the plaintiffs are seeking more than $75,000 in damages. 

Olaplex denies the allegations and defended the safety of their products. 

"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 company said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. 

"Complaints like the ones referenced in this article are, sadly, a fact of life in our industry, and have been made against other brands in the category for years," Olaplex added.

The Food and Drug Administration has received about 25 consumer complaints about Olaplex's products, according to Bloomberg, which cited a public-records request. 

Shares of Olaplex, which is publicly traded, slumped after news of the suit surfaced.

A woman who allegedly used Olaplex hair care products demonstrates hair loss she claims to have suffered. Law Center of Amy Davis

According to the suit, Olaplex products contain ingredients called "lilial" and "panthenol" that can lead to conditions causing hair loss and scalp injuries, including "inflamed, blistered, flaking or scaling skin." Lilial is banned from hair and beauty products in Europe.

Despite receiving thousands of complaints, Olaplex has not recalled any of its products, according to the suit. The products are widely available at major retailers including Sephora, Ulta and Amazon.

Hair loss can be psychologically devastating and lead to depression and eating disorders, especially for women the lawsuit states. 

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