Thanks to the natural hair movement, more and more women have in recent years been embracing their natural curls instead of straightening them with the help of hot tools and chemical straighteners. This movement has been significant for brown and black women, who for centuries have been told our natural hair wasn’t beautiful enough. In fact, one of the brands that’s been there with us since the beginning is DevaCurl, known for both their products — their No-Poo cleanser especially — and their famous Deva Cuts. But the popular brand is now facing a class-action lawsuit after a number of curly-haired women — influencers included — have complained about the products resulting in alleged hair loss.
The backlash from influencers and customers speaking out about their alleged hair loss and scalp damage experiences they claim were a result of DevaCurl products, started going viral sometime in late January. DevaCurl has since released two public statements, standing by its initial claim that no safety issues have been found with the existing formulas after additional testing. But recently they announced that they are recruiting industry professionals and customers to be part of their “Professional Curl Care Council” to really get behind what’s going on. A lot has gone down since the accusations went viral so we decided to break it all down for you in a few points — check it out!
YouTuber Ayesha Malik’s accusation
Malik, who used to be a brand ambassador for DevaCurl, released a video on January 31, 2020, sharing her own personal story with the brand. In the video, titled “Why I Stopped Using DevaCurl, she shares how the hair care line she’s been using for the past six years started causing hair loss, dandruff, itchy scalp, and even damage to her hair. Malik claims that her curl pattern changed significantly and that she really started to connect the dots after she started receiving messages from other women who claim to have experienced similar side effects after using DevaCurl products. “If you bought DevaCurl products because of me, I am sorry. And if you’re currently using these products, stop immediately! I do not recommend them. Not on your hair, not on your friend’s hair — do not give these products to them. Do not donate them to a women’s shelter. I do not recommend these products on anyone’s hair,” she said.
Within days other curly influencers started speaking out
View this post on Instagram
As always my page will continue to provide #info + #inspo When I first started sharing my journey my goal was to help other curlies learn how to love and care for their curly crowns the way I did and that is STILL my goal and always will be. Some of us have had some major setbacks recently and together we can snap back from this. #curlrehab #hif3liciahelped #hairjourney #honestreviews #setbacksaresetupsforcomebacks
Curly hair influencer known as @hif3licia on IG posted a video addressing the backlash. She received a ton of criticism from followers who claim that she has recommended DevaCurl products that resulted in hair loss. “There has just been too much going on for me to just not say anything, even though that’s all I’ve been wanting to do is just curl in a ball and kind of close off everything because some of you don’t know how to talk to people and some of you are very rude and some of you jump to conclusions — um but I haven’t been silent. If you’ve been paying attention, I haven’t been silent, I just haven’t posted what you’ve been looking for,” she said. “I’m not going to make some big dramatic video and I’m not saying that other people have, I’m just saying I don’t know what you want from me. I have never been the type to attack anyone. If I tried a product and I didn’t like it, I just didn’t post about it. So if I was using something and it started to not work for me, I just quit posting about it. But if you check my highlights, check my curl rehab posts, check under read my comments under my posts, then you’ll see that I know something is going on and I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of it so that I can be as informative as possible to you guys. Because what’s the point of me just telling you my hair is falling out if I can’t give you answers?”
Brand Ambassadors Started Issuing Apologies
After a few videos started to go viral, folks began to question influencers for recommending the products that have been resulting in hair loss for so many women. One of those former brand ambassadors is India Batson, who decided to release a video titled “Dear DevaCurl,” where she urged her followers to stop using the products. Batson claims she didn’t experience any noticeable side effects using DevaCurl but still wanted to address the backlash. “I have to tell you my truth, that I have not had any negative side effects that I have personally noticed from using DevaCurl. That does not discount the victims that have come forward to tell their story,” she said. “So I have personally decided not to use their products at this point in time and I would recommend as a friend to stop using them as well until we get to the bottom of this.
There is a Facebook support group
There is an entire Facebook support group “for people who believe they are suffering hair and scalp issues from using DevaCurl products.” The page is run by Stephanie Mero, known as @TheCurlNinja on IG, who is an ex-DevaCurl stylist, a personal victim of the products, and “an advocate for those who have less of a ‘voice’ when change is needed.”
Mero speaks out about DevaCurl products
Not only has Mero been dedicating herself to helping restore client’s hair from DevaCurl damage, but she talks about it extensively on her IG page, because she’s a victim of DevaCurl product damage herself. Mero recently explained in an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered, why she decided to speak out. “I had moved actually from Orland to Miami. And around that time my hair started to change, so I just attributed it to, like, dryness or something else. But it got so damaged that I no longer could attribute it to weather,” she told host Leila Fadel. “And then I started to realize that all my clients that use DevaCurl, which was 99% of them — their hair, the texture of it was looking like mine, even if we had totally different hair. And the bald spots and stuff — I noticed after the fact. So people are upset, as you can imagine.”
A class-action lawsuit investigation happens
After the YouTube videos, as well as, the Facebook support page went viral, a law firm posted an advertisement looking for clients to join a free DevaCurl Hair loss class action lawsuit investigation. “If you qualify, an attorney will contact you to discuss the details of your potential case at no charge to you,” it reads.
DevaCurl releases a public statement
In their initial statement, DevaCurl said they were looking into testing out the products to get to the bottom of everything. “Because some of our community have recently asked more questions about some of our products, we have conducted additional testing at the manufacturer and warehouse level,” the statement says. “In addition, we worked with an independent third-party toxicologist to verify the safety of these formulas. All these tests verified there are no safety issues with our products [emphasis DevaCurl’s]. We don’t speculate on why some people are attributing the challenges with their curls to our products. As part of our ongoing commitment to product safety and the satisfaction of our Deva Community, we are conducting additional testing with an independent party.”
Then they released a second statement
On February 11th they posted a new message about how they are taking additional steps to solve this problem. “When some of you first raised concerns about our products, we were laser-focused on our testing as the best way to confirm their safety and quality. You can feel confident using DevaCurl because all our products have gone through rigorous testing that has confirmed they are safe and adhere to both quality assurance and regulatory standards,” the statement reads. We’ve heard you and recognize that any changes to your hair – for whatever reason – demand a special type of attention that safety tests alone can’t address. That’s why we’re partnering with medical professionals, dermatologists, industry experts, professional stylists, and members of our curl community to better address your needs and concerns. We are committed to:
-Creating a Professional Curl Care Council of trusted medical professionals, dermatologists, independent industry experts, professional stylists and members of our curl community to help us all better understand healthy curls and scalp. We will develop Curl Care Resources for you and our stylist professionals, including information about curl and scalp health and using DevaCurl products.
-Sharing answers to some of the top questions we have received from you around safety and ingredients, as well as links to independent professional organizations.
Because many factors determine curl and scalp health, the situation is complex, and we ask for your patience as we work together to provide more answers and address your concerns.
We will continue to share updates.”
The No-Poo is the suspected product
While it’s still unclear if it’s specific DevaCurl products — or all of them — causing the damage, many seem to be pointing at the brand’s famous No-Poo line. It’s been referenced in the curly hair forums and in the lawsuit.
Many suspect that DevaCurl changed their formula
A German company called Henkel acquired DevaCurl in November, which has people believing that the formula may have changed. But a lot of the customer and influencer testimonials actually claim they started experiencing hair damage and loss months before that. In some cases, even years before that. The truth is hair loss can be caused by a number of things including underlying health issues, hormonal issues, nutritional deficiencies — even stress. But it is always important to monitor your health products in case there are ingredients in there that are causing sensitivity resulting in damage or hair loss.
We will continue to share updates as this story continues to develop.