July 19, 2021 — A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Johnson & Johnson with the claim that the company’s OGX hair care products cause significant hair loss.
The products are sold at major national retailers, including Target, Ulta, CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens. Johnson & Johnson shampoos, conditioners, and some hair oils are among the products named in the lawsuit.
The plaintiff, Larissa Whipple, an Illinois woman, cites the ingredient DMDM hydantoin as the main concern. DMDM hydantoin is a preservative and antimicrobial agent sometimes found in hair care products. It’s considered a “formaldehyde donor,” meaning it releases a small amount of formaldehyde over time to keep the product fresh.
But formaldehyde donors like this one have been linked to allergies, rashes, hair loss, and cancer. The Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program has said formaldehyde is known to cause cancer.
The lawsuit says that the company may have violated consumer protection laws by advertising the products containing this ingredient to people who want healthy hair.
“Johnson & Johnson made a number of affirmative misrepresentations … that the products ‘deeply nourish’, ‘gently cleanse,’ and ‘repair hair.’ However, the products’ formula contains an ingredient, or combination of ingredients, that has caused Plaintiff and thousands of consumers to experience hair loss and/or scalp irritation,” the lawsuit says.
Johnson & Johnson says all their ingredients are carefully selected and are listed on the products’ label. The company stated that none of their new products contain DMDM hydantoin and they have not launched any new hair products with this ingredient in several years.
“We carefully select ingredients to ensure the safety and performance of our products,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement to WebMD. “Some of our existing products contain a small amount of DMDM hydantoin, which is used to prevent mold from developing while the product is in the shower. Every preservative used in our products must clear our rigorous safety assessment process.”
In August 2012, Johnson & Johnson announced it would remove DMDM hydantoin and other similar ingredients from their products by 2015. However, the lawsuit says that is a “broken promise.”