Monthly Archives: September 2016

conditioner really cause hair loss?

Last year, a group of 200 women in 40 states filed a class action lawsuit alleging the cleansing conditioner from Wen by Chaz Dean caused scary side effects, from scalp irritation to hair loss.

On Oct. 31, a federal judge in Los Angeles gave preliminary approval to a $26.3 million settlement for the suit against celebrity stylist Chaz Dean and Wen distributor Guthy-Renker. If approved by a United States district judge, customers who had adverse reactions could receive up to $20,000.

Wen is a leader in the no-shampoo movement. Many women believe that conditioner washing or “co-washing”—using only cleansing conditioner (and no shampoo)—makes their hair feel healthier, softer, and easier to manage.

But the women represented in the lawsuit say they’ve had the opposite experience: They claim Wen’s cleansing condition caused “severe and possibly permanent damage to hair, including significant hair loss to the point of visible bald spots, hair breakage, scalp irritation, and rash.”

“From what we understand about the product and how it causes hair loss is it contains virtually no cleanser,” attorney Amy Davis told CBS. “It’s like using lotion to wash your hair. So instead of removing the product when you rinse it off, it just becomes impacted in your hair follicle.”

The hair-care brand is standing by its products. “Wen by Chaz Dean is safe and we continue to provide our hundreds of thousands of customers with the Wen by Chaz Dean products that they know and love,” the company said in a statement. “Since the process of litigation is time consuming and costly, we made a business decision to pursue a settlement and put this behind us so that we can focus on delivering quality products.”

So, should you hesitate to use a cleansing conditioner like Wen’s?

This question is a tricky one, in part because experts haven’t been able to figure out what, exactly, caused the concerning side effects. When we asked two dermatologists about the lawyer’s description of the Wen product becoming “impacted” in the hair follicle, they both agreed it didn’t make much sense.

“I’m certainly not a legal expert,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. “But since hair grows from the hair follicle—which is under the skin—and not from the surface, I couldn’t really make sense of this lawsuit.” What’s more, she says, if a product doesn’t contain any cleanser, the result would be oily hair: “I can’t see how it would cause hair loss.”

Mary Gail Mercurio, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says the worst side effect she’d expect from a cleansing conditioner would be oily, matted hair that feels weighed-down. “I’d think it might have a negative effect on appearance, but it shouldn’t cause breakage,” she says.

Both doctors felt the lotion analogy Davis used was puzzling, since washing your hair with lotion shouldn’t cause your hair to fall out either. “Dermatologists often prescribe medicines of varying viscosity for the scalp without seeing this phenomenon,” says Dr. Mercurio.

But could the Wen formula contain some kind of depilatory that’s causing the women to lose their hair? Unlikely, according to Dr. Mercurio. “If there were a specific depilatory ingredient in these products, it would affect more women,” she points out. “There are many causes of hair loss. It’s possible that some of these women are sustaining hair loss from a separate issue.”

What about the no-shampoo movement itself, we wondered—is there any risk to skipping shampoo?

There’s no “right” frequency for washing your hair, the experts say. “It’s a very individual thing,” explains Dr. Mercurio. “It really depends on scalp’s oil production, which differs from person to person.”

In other words, it’s up to you to find what works best for your hair. While some people don’t like the feeling of unwashed hair, others swear by the “no ‘poo” approach. In fact, Health executive deputy editor Jeannie Kim experimented with only co-washing her hair for one month last summer. She loved the results so much, she hasn’t used shampoo since.

“I’m now at 15 months and counting of using only cleansing conditioner, even after pool swimming and major sweaty workouts,” she says. “I do make sure to massage my scalp really well, both with the product and after rinsing to make sure I’ve gotten it all out.”

For now, it seems the best advice is to experiment with co-washing, but cautiously. As with any hair- or skin-care product, watch for unusual symptoms and discontinue use if you experience a negative reaction.

7 toxic chemicals to avoid in eye makeup


1. Ethanolamine compounds
“The problem with ethanolamines is that they can be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund and director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

To spot ethanolamines, avoid products that contain ingredients with the letters DEA, TEA and MEA.

2. BAK
Benzalkonium chloride (BAK) is a preservative found in eyeliner, mascara and makeup remover.  BAK is well documented to be toxic to the epithelial cells of the eyes. These cells keep dust, water and bacteria out of the eye and provide a smooth surface on the cornea to absorb and distribute oxygen and cell nutrients from tears to the rest of the cornea.

BAK can be listed under various names including benzalkonium chloride, quaternium-15 or guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride.

3. Prime yellow carnauba wax
Used in mascara and eyeliners to stiffen the product and make them waterproof, prime yellow carnauba wax clogs the oil glands in the eyes and can lead to dry eye disease, which affects 3.2 million women age 50 and older, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Using products that contain waxes isn’t a good idea, although Japan wax might be a safer alternative, said Dr. Leslie E. O’Dell, director of the Dry Eye Center of Pennsylvania in Mechanicsburg and Manchester.

4. Parabens
Parabens are preservatives that are used to prevent the growth of bacteria in makeup products, but they’re absorbed through the skin and easily transmitted into the bloodstream. They’re also endocrine disruptors and are linked to reproductive toxicity, early puberty and breast cancer. Parabens can also make dry eye worse since they prohibit the oil glands that line the eyelid from secreting enough oil, O’Dell said.

When reading labels, avoid anything with the suffix-paraben.

5. Aluminum powder
Used to give eye makeup its hue, aluminum powder is both a neurotoxin and has been linked to organ system toxicity. Makeup labels will list aluminum, LB Pigment 5 or pigment metal.

6. Retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate
Two forms of vitamin A, retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate, have been linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity. They’re also found in anti-aging face creams and eye creams.

Even if you don’t have dry eye disease, you should avoid vitamin A.

“There are well-documented studies that show that it will kill the oil glands and once they’re gone, you can’t rebuild them,” O’Dell said.

7. Heavy metals
Nickel and chrome are two heavy metals found in all types of makeup, especially in green or metallic shadows, as well as makeup brushes, even the expensive types, O’Dell said.

Heavy metals are neurotoxins that have been linked to brain damage. Nickel in particular has been associated with lung cancer and respiratory concerns. What’s more, up to 17 percent of women have a nickel allergy, which can cause dry, itchy eyelids, a red skin rash and watery blisters.

eyeliner could be unhealthy

 Your dramatic eye makeup could actually be unhealthy for your eyes assuming you’re a contact lens wearer, according to a tiny pilot study that appears in Eye and Contact Lens Science and Clinical Practice.

The study involves the “waterline.” That’s the thin inner portion of the eyelash line, and it’s a popular place to apply eyeliner: The waterline has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to it; an Allure article touts the “big, open eyes” you can get from putting makeup on it; and celebs like Selena Gomez apparently favor it.

But researchers wanted to quantify how much eyeliner might enter the tear film—which a press release explains is “the thin coating protecting the eye”—when it’s applied in one of two places: on the waterline, or outside the lash line, along the skin.

The study involved just three female participants who visited twice on separate days. They were randomly assigned one of the two eyeliner application conditions, and used Avon’s “Glimmerstick.” Alison Ng, a scientist at Canada’s University of Waterloo, took more than 200 frames of video of the subjects’ eyes over a two-hour period to record the amount of particles that moved into the tear film.

Ng says, “the makeup migration happened quicker and was greater” in the waterline scenarios. “Within five minutes, between 15% and 30% more particles moved into the eye’s tear film,” the release notes.

That could lead to discomfort, says Ng, or cause buildup on the lens (especially when lenses are worn for several days) that could fuel more troublesome problems, like irritation or even an eye infection.

“For anyone who wears heavy makeup or enjoys regularly applying beauty products around the eye, I would recommend daily disposable lenses for optimal cleanliness and comfort,” she says.