Hundreds of women filed a class action lawsuit after they allegedly suffered hair loss and burns from using Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30-Day Smoothing Kit.
Plaintiff Catherine Reny said her hair began “melting” as soon as she applied the product, reported Court House News Service.
The lead plaintiffs in the case say Unilever, the manufacturer of Suave products, failed to warn consumers of the risk of hair loss and scalp burns when the product from introduced in 2011.
"Unilever knew, but failed to disclose to plaintiffs and the class, that the treatment contains an ingredient or combination of ingredients that causes significant hair loss upon proper application," the lawsuit states. "The active ingredient in the treatment, thioglycolic acid, including its salts and esters, is the same active ingredient that is used in hair depilatories and some hair perming solutions."
The suit claims the advertising was false. It stated the kit had "No Formaldehyde," although it contained DMDM Hydantoin, a chemical that releases the carcinogen formaldehyde.
"It transforms frizzy, unmanageable hair into hair that's sleeker and easier to style," said a commercial for the kit, which is no longer being sold. The kit was recalled in May 2012 and discontinued.
Plaintiff Josephine Wells says her hair is still fall out two years later.
"After proper application of the treatment, Wells noticed her hair breaking at the crown and she experienced significant hair loss at the crown and on the sides of her head,” the complaint says. “Because of the breakage and hair loss, she has had to cut approximately ten inches off her hair and has spent thousands of dollars on weaves, hair extensions, and other treatments to attempt to restore the damage to her hair. The straightening effects and damage to Wells' hair continues to this day - nearly two years after she used the product. Her once long, beautiful, natural curly healthy hair is now dull, fragile and short. Her hair is extremely thin and the bald spots caused by the treatment are still visible."
A number of people joined the lawsuit after the Facebook page ”Suave Keratin Infusion Kit Destroyed My Hair” was created and users began sharing their experiences.
"I just sat in the bathroom and cried. I didn't know what to do,” Tonja Millet told local Texas news WFAA.
The complaint states that Unilever “solicited and obtained numerous releases from California consumers and others in the United States who were injured by use of the product, without advising them of their right to obtain legal counsel.”
In exchange for releasing Unilever from all responsibility, the complaint says they gave consumers $50.
The class action seeks to through out the releases and damages for negligence, gross negligence breach of warranty, deceptive advertising, and other charges.