The hair care company Olaplex advertises an active ingredient that changes everything and permanently repairs the hair. A great promise. 28 women in the US no longer believe in it. They have now sued the company and report hair loss, bald spots and other health problems. Chemicals in the hair care products are said to be to blame.

The allegations leveled against the company are also hair-raising. The lawsuit, which was filed in California District Court last week, alleges itching, rashes, yeast infections, bacterial infections, burning sensations, open sores and drastic hair loss, according to the BBC. In some cases, the women lost more than half their hair on their heads, while others were left bald.

“The hair has split and broken, leaving it looking unkempt and like it was trimmed with a weed killer,” the BBC quoted the lawsuit as saying. Women’s hair became “dry, brittle, frizzy and dull” after using Olaplex. This is supposed to be proven, among other things, by photos showing the plaintiffs with bald spots on their heads and which were published by one of the law firms involved.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers rule out other reasons that could have triggered these symptoms. That has been carefully checked. They assume that “the products are solely to blame”. The ingredients of the hair care products are said to be to blame for the misery. The accusation: Olaplex uses Lilial in its products, among other things, which can cause hair loss. The lawsuit is aimed specifically at products No.0 and No.9.

Olaplex rejects the allegations. The products, the company writes on its website, do not cause hair loss or breakage and are “safe and effective”. The test results of independent third parties, which the company just published there, should prove this. Among other things, Olaplex refers to the HRIPT test that was carried out.

“If the products pass such a test, it means that the product does not cause inflammation or sensitivity, so there is no inflammation of the hair follicles, which is the main cause of hair loss,” the website reads. In addition, tests were carried out on sensitive skin for several product lines to further ensure the safety of our products.

According to the company, Olaplex has long since removed the active ingredient Lilial from its products as a precautionary measure – worldwide. That is exactly what the lawsuit disputes. It claims that products from old batches containing Lilial are still being sold. So far, the company has not recalled any of its products.

Lilial, also known as butylphenyl methylpropionol, was a fragrance commonly used in cosmetic products and cleaning products. The liquid fragrance has come under criticism because it has the potential to affect reproductive abilities. A BASF study had already identified such a hazardous effect in animal experiments in 2016. Lilial has been banned in the European Union (EU) for almost a year. Since then, cosmetics with this ingredient may no longer be sold in the EU.

“We stand ready to vigorously defend our company, our brand and our products against these baseless allegations,” the company said in a statement on Instagram. The comments on this are divided. While some have jumped in support of the company – “People try to blame their damaged hair on the product. The product is good, the hair is not” – others have criticized the company for its handling of the case.

“I would like this company to acknowledge customers’ concerns instead of telling them they don’t,” writes one user. Her own clients have told her about brittle hair after using shampoo and conditioner. And further: “This product is not suitable for everyone. At least be honest […]. You sound like a pharmaceutical company making up excuses.”

The 28 plaintiffs are claiming damages from Olaplex. They are aiming for a sum equivalent to almost 70,000 euros, i.e. around 2500 euros for each woman.

Sources: BBC, Olaplex, Utopia, CNN, Businessinsider