Olaplex Holdings Inc. is facing a lawsuit filed by about 30 consumers who allege the company’s products damaged their hair and scalp. The case is Albahae et al v. Olaplex Holdings, 2:23-cv-00982, US District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
On Thursday, a complaint was filed accusing Olaplex of making false statements, including that its offerings restore damaged hair and provide the “ultimate breakage insurance.” The suit further claims that the company has knowingly used ingredients that cause irritation and sensitivity, contributing to a host of hair and scalp issues.
“Far from repairing and protecting hair from damage, the products have instead left plaintiffs’ hair dry, brittle, frizzy and dull,” the lawsuit alleges. The complaint also alleges the product has led them to hair loss and scalp injuries.
A statement released by Olaplex rejected these allegations and defended the “safety and efficacy of our products, which are thoroughly tested in house and by independent third-party laboratories.” The hair transformation brand added that they are prepared to vigorously defend against the claims.
“There are a wide variety of reasons for hair breakage or hair loss, as medical and scientific experts have publicly stated, including lifestyle, various medical conditions and medications, the aftereffects of Covid, skin conditions and more,” the company said. It has declined to share copies of its research.
This suit follows other claims against Olaplex from some aggravated customers. Last year, posts alleging the company’s products harmed hair pervaded throughout social media, especially TikTok. A Facebook group where users discuss hair damage they attribute to the products has amassed more than 5,000 members since cropping up in July. Additionally, The US Food and Drug Administration has received about 25 consumer complaints about the products, according to documents Bloomberg received through a public-records request.
The plaintiffs, represented by Dallas-based lawyer Amy Davis, asked a federal court in California to order Olaplex to stop what they call false and deceptive marketing. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages. The customers say that Olaplex products “contain or have until recently contained” the allergy-causing ingredient lilial, and that they also include panthenol, as well as ingredients like sodium benzoate that they said could form the chemical benzene. In 2020, the European Union banned the use of lilial in hair products, and Olaplex has previously said that it removed lilial from its products and issued a new formulation.
The new K-19 product is the latest craze and opposite of Olaplex, the product restores the biology of the hair.
Amid rapid growth, the company raised $1.55 billion in an initial public offering in September 2021, which was the biggest in the US consumer-goods sector in two decades, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Annual revenue neared $600 million in 2021. However, sales gains slowed last year. Olaplex slashed its annual forecast in October, sending its shares tumbling. The stock has rebounded this year, but is still down about 70 percent from its IPO.
Carlos Wesley, a cosmetic surgeon who specializes in hair transplants and restoration, said that Olaplex seems to target appearance, not biology — meaning it doesn’t appear to address underlying potential issues with the drivers of hair growth.
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