A class action lawsuit over L’Orèal SoftSheen Amla Relaxer products has been filed against the cosmetics manufacturer, alleging women have suffered hair loss, burns, irritation and other problems.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Sharon Manier, Dorothy Riles, and Lakeytra Nero in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on September 15, seeking class action status on behalf of all women who purchased SoftSheen Alma hair relaxer.
According to allegations raised in the lawsuit, the manufacturer failed to warn women about the risk of hair loss, breakage, chemical burns, blistering and irritation. In addition, the products were also allegedly marked falsely as an Amla oil-based product.
“In fact, the Product contains hardly any Amla Oil (or Phyllanthus Emblica (Indian Gooseberry) Fruit Extract) at all,” the lawsuit states. “The true ingredients in the Amla Relaxer are a dangerous mix of irritants and potentially toxic substances.”
L’Orèal acquired Soft Sheen Products, Inc. in 1998, which was the nation’s largest African American owned beauty products company at the time. It has continued to sell products under the SoftSheen-Carson Laboratories label, including the SoftSheen-Carson Optimum Amla Legend No-Mix, No-Lye Relaxer, which is primarily marketed to African American women.
The SoftSheen Amla class action lawsuit indicates that the manufacturer claimed the products were not only safe, but nourished hair and helped it grow healthier. However, the plaintiffs say the opposite is often true.
Riles indicates that she suffered bald spots, burns and scabs on her scalp from the hair relaxer, and still suffers from damaged and unhealthy hair. She occasionally wears a wig to cover the damage.
Manier, who purchased the product in July, began to immediately suffer scalp irritation, even after doing a strand test and using the scalp protector, as the instructions on the box indicated. She quickly began to wash the Amla relaxer out, however, her hair began to fall out and she now wears partial hair pieces to counter the hair loss.
Nero also indicates she followed the strand test and scalp protector instructions, but also suffered hair loss and scalp irritation. The lawsuit indicates her hair continues to be thin and damaged.
In addition to their complaints, reviews on Amazon.com and other sites contain one testimonial after another from women who suffered irritation and hair loss after using this product.
“Don’t use it! My 26 year old daughter is upstairs crying her eyes out because her hair is gone,” one commenter stated. “And I (her mother) relaxed it for her. We followed directions she has been relaxing for years. We did not leave it on too long. She now has no hair on the sides or back of her head.”
” Attention ladies.. DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT!!!!!!!” another woman warned. “My hair is falling out in clumps and I have no hair in the lower back of my head at all. This company has to be sued and this product needs to be taken off the market. No one should have to go through this at all.”
The lawsuit presents claims of breach of warranty, unjust enrichment, fraud, negligence, and violations of consumer protection laws, seeking to include class on behalf of all individuals in the United States who purchased the products.