Corporate stupidity, often, is why we can’t have nice things. A lot of people, including me, have experienced hair loss with TRESemme and other shampoos and conditioners in the Unilever family of brands.
Retracing My Steps
Last year, faced with (at last) the end of my Tigi Moisture Maniac stockpile (that I had gleefully found at Costco), I faced the music that the discontinuation was finally final. and decided to return to drugstore options. I’d had decent results with Tresemme in the past, so while the variety I had previously tried wasn’t available, I went for their Moisture Rich shampoo and conditioner.
Hair Loss with TRESemme
We all shed hair, it’s part of the process. But I was shedding a lot. Granted, 2020 was a hell of a year, and we know stress is a contributor to hair loss.
But I’m no stranger to stress, and I was losing hair in fistfuls. I’m not a particularly emotional person, but it brought me to tears. I’d wash and condition my hair in the shower, capturing and coiling the fallen strands on the wall to see the casualties of the day and cry. I’m not even thirty yet. Was I sick? What the hell.
So, given that, it isn’t surprising it took me months to connect the dots that the acceleration of my shedding coincided uncomfortably with the product change.
Unforutnately, I’m Not Alone
When the suspicion occurred to me, I put on my investigative hat and found, to my horror, that Unilever is currently facing a class action suit over hair loss with TRESemme. The litigation is over another product line for containing an ingredient that is known to accelerate hair loss.
Specifically, the suit cites their Keratin Smooth product line, but ultimately the culprit ingredient is DMDM hydantoin. When it is in contact with water, it can leach formaldehyde. This can lead to scalp irritation, breakage, and heightened hair loss. The Moisture Rich shampoo and conditioner products both contain this ingredient. I stopped using it immediately.
This Isn’t The First Time for Unilever
Unilever has been embroiled in legal action over use of this preservative and its negative impacts before. According to KGG Law,
Unilever has known of dangers associated with DMDM hydantoin for more than a decade, given that they’ve been the defendant in prior litigation. Complaints of hair loss and scalp irritation associated with their “formaldehyde-free” Suave Keratin Infusion shampoo led to a 2012 recall and a $10.2 million settlement that was ultimately upheld in an appeals court in 2016.https://www.kgglaw.com/class-action-lawsuits/tresemme-keratin-shampoo-class-action-lawsuit/
Isn’t that nice? Unilever is well-aware that DMDM hydantoin is a problematic ingredient, but gives zero bothers that consumers will experience hair loss with TRESemme and other products. I’m hardly a champion for all natural everything – because chemicals are not all bad – but for fucks sake, Unilever. Way to continue to compromise your integrity further and destroy brand trust. Here’s how corporate legal counsel works: they advise you on risk, and you make your business decision to accept or avoid the risk.
The decision to continue using problematic ingredients that have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements in the past shows a refusal to learn from mistakes. Even though this was a civil matter, the fact that there was a precedent set by that should have led to formula changes.
The Bottom Line
I’m really not interested in weathering significant hair loss right now. Or ever, but in the vein of, “Can a girl catch a break?” I caught it before I had any weird significant patches, but more of my scalp is visible than it was.
I was only about a quarter of the way through each bottle, too; I hate that this is leading to product and packaging waste as I endeavor to get better about both of these things, but in the interests of both vanity and more importantly, health, good riddance. As upset as I am to have experienced hair loss with TRESemme, and that mega corp Unilever is doing typical villainous mega corp shit, I learned from it and will now scrutinize the labels of my hair products to ensure that isn’t among them.
I’m still trying to figure out what will replace it, but I’ve recently picked up a Costco offering that (so far) seems promising. I’ll be coupling that with giving The Ordinary’s Multi-Peptide Serum in hopes of reversing the harm.