When Miriam Lawrence bought Wen's Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Condition to use on her 9-year-old daughter, Eliana, she was simply looking for a new hair care product for her child. After about three uses of the conditioner, however, Eliana went completely bald.
Eliana isn't the only consumer to have adverse reactions to this product. In the last couple of years, more than 21,000 complaints have been brought up against Wen's Hair Care. However, these complaints have made very little impact. Although consumers are reporting the issues to Wen, the cosmetic company is under no legal obligation to turn these complaints into the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, currently cosmetic companies are nearly entirely unregulated. Unless consumers reports adverse effects directly to the F.D.A., there is very little that can be done to take the products off the market. The F.D.A. has the power to recall mislabeled or contaminated products, but they have no course of action to remove harmful or even lethal products from the market.
“It changed our life in just a couple shampoos. It’s ridiculous,” said Ms. Lawrence, whose daughter has grown back most of her hair and eyebrows. “It was marketed to be extra gentle, no harsh chemicals.”
Currently in Congress, companies such as Wen are lobbying to block tough new legislation that would give the F.D.A. the authority to issue mandatory recalls for unsafe products. It would also require companies such as Wen to report “serious adverse” reactions to their products to the F.D.A. as they come in.
Although there are large companies such as Estée Lauder, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble that support the legislation, companies such as Wen and Mary Kay are fighting to make the regulations less strict than the proposed bill.
So what does this mean? For right now, do your research before testing out a new product. Wen is currently still on the market, even though it has over 21,000 complaints to the company. In addition, keep an eye out for upcoming legislation that may give the F.D.A. more power when it comes to cosmetics. For the moment though, I'll be sticking to my good old fashioned Head and Shoulders, thank you very much.
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