Unilever Suave Shampoo Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Formaldehyde Problems

A class action lawsuit have been filed over Unilever Suave shampoos and conditions, alleging the manufacturer falsely advertised its professional hair products as safe, while concealing information that Suave shampoos and conditions may contain formaldehyde, which is a known human carcinogen.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Deanna Lewakowski in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on June 18, seeking class action status to pursue damages on behalf of all consumers nationwide who purchased variations of Suave Professionals Shampoo and Conditioners, based on misleading and false benefits purportedly offered by the products, and without warning of being exposed to cancer causing ingredients.

The lawsuit involves Suave Professionals Shampoo and/or Conditioner products which contain the ingredient DMDM hydantoin.

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Lewakowski claims Unilever advertises its Suave products nationwide with false and misleading marketing and labeling claims ,indicating the products provide smoothing, repairing, or restoring benefits, and hails them as a superior product for preventing hair loss, compared to alternatives.

The plaintiff alleges Suave professional hair products are marketed as working “just as well as premium brands,” and asks consumers to “trust [they]’ve got the good stuff.”, when in fact, customers are unknowingly being exposed to DMDM hydantoin ingredients, which may cause consumers to suffer hair loss, allergic reactions, or skin and scalp irritation.

While formaldehyde-releasers are common in shampoo and conditioner to prevent microbes from growing in water-based products, the lawsuit claims there are safer alternatives than DMDM hydantoin. DMDM hydantoin is an antimicrobial formaldehyde known to cause reactions including itchiness, red rashes on the skin brittle hair, loss of hair and even dermatitis.

Lewakowski’s lawsuit indicates that within two months of using the Suave products, her hair became dry, brittle and began breaking easily. Plaintiff also claims she suffered scalp irritation, yet when she stopped using the Suave products, the symptoms slowly dissipated.

The Suave shampoo and Conditioner class action lawsuit alleges Unilever knew, or should have known, DMDM hydantoin would cause thousands of consumers to experience hair loss and/or scalp irritation, yet concealed the information while marketing their “Professionals” line of products as superior.

The lawsuit further cites the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have both recognized DMDM hydantoin as a known human carcinogen, yet the chemical has been used in Unilever products, including the Suave Products, for more than a decade.

Lewakowski presents claims of Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, state consumer fraud acts, fraud, and unjust enrichment.

The lawsuit seeks to represent a nationwide class of individuals who purchased one of the Suave Professional products and has either suffered, or will suffer economic losses in repairing and restoring damage caused by the products. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages against Unilever for its alleged malice, motive and reckless disregard for consumer safety.

In 2014, Unilever agreed to pay $10.2 million to settle a Suave class action lawsuit filed by consumers over hair loss from its formaldehyde-containing Suave Keratin Infusion treatments. The lawsuit claimed the manufacturer engaged in deceptive advertising by claiming the Keratin Infusion hair product was formaldehyde free, even though it contained a chemical which released formaldehyde when used.

25 Comments

  • LandonJanuary 16, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    I've been using suave shampoo for around 5 years and never heard or realized any of these problems, until I used a different brand for 6 months, then I went back to suave and in the first week I started noticing my rash coming back. 5 years ago I started getting bad skin lesions on my scalp and back, so I started looking into suave shampoo and found other people having skin issues as well. I'm nev[Show More]I've been using suave shampoo for around 5 years and never heard or realized any of these problems, until I used a different brand for 6 months, then I went back to suave and in the first week I started noticing my rash coming back. 5 years ago I started getting bad skin lesions on my scalp and back, so I started looking into suave shampoo and found other people having skin issues as well. I'm never using suave again

  • AudreyJanuary 15, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    I have been using suave the last few months the green bottles. My hair is now falling out as well.. I am freaking out. I stopped using it now. I hope my hair stops falling out. I have bald spots and in the back my hair is falling out a lot. I had thick hair and now it is so thin.. :( I can not believe this is even on the shelves..I am in tears every day..

  • AshleyJanuary 13, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    Like everyone had commented, I as well lost hair with the suave keratin shampoo & conditioner. After doing some reading, supposedly the ingredients had changed and no longer would cause hair lost. However purchased December 2021, used 3 times only, and had scalp irritation, and hair fell out way too easy! If you’ve ever had postpartum hair lost and know that feeling of sensitive yet painful scalp[Show More]Like everyone had commented, I as well lost hair with the suave keratin shampoo & conditioner. After doing some reading, supposedly the ingredients had changed and no longer would cause hair lost. However purchased December 2021, used 3 times only, and had scalp irritation, and hair fell out way too easy! If you’ve ever had postpartum hair lost and know that feeling of sensitive yet painful scalp then it’s the exact same feeling!

  • VJanuary 12, 2022 at 2:13 am

    Ive used Suave for about 10 years on and off. Everytime i use it i have either a rash on my back and more recently my face swells up as well.

  • SylviaJanuary 1, 2022 at 1:36 am

    I used Suave a few days ago for the first time and my hair fell out in my hands..I lost a good hand full of wet hair..I was shocked..I had always taken care of my hair and it was down past my waist..I now have bald spots to cover..I have pictures of Thanksgiving day and also pictures of my hair after it fell out..I have never colored my hair either.

  • TysonDecember 28, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    I used Suave shampoo one time and my hair dissolved in my hands as I lathered it in. Won't be making that mistake again!

  • WilliamDecember 22, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    I had a bottle of suave ..burn a hole in the bottle sitting on a shelve leak onto my arm..while showeing ...leaving a chemical burn on my left arm...sending me to the hospital.....

  • KathleenDecember 18, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    I have been using Suave Professional Moroccan Infusion almost exclusively for years now. I have noticed a lot more hair in my drain every day, as well as hair everywhere I go, in the kitchen on my stovetop, on my clothes, etc. I assumed it was just part of getting old, but my scalp itches constantly also. Thankfully I have not noticed bald spots, yet. Thank you for bringing this to my attentio[Show More]I have been using Suave Professional Moroccan Infusion almost exclusively for years now. I have noticed a lot more hair in my drain every day, as well as hair everywhere I go, in the kitchen on my stovetop, on my clothes, etc. I assumed it was just part of getting old, but my scalp itches constantly also. Thankfully I have not noticed bald spots, yet. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, but now I don't know what reasonably priced shampoo and conditioner to buy. Arghhh! :-(

  • JulieDecember 17, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    I started using Suave shampoo and conditioner about 3 months back and now I suffer from severe alopecia. I’m glad I googled it up. I have to throw out the rest of the shampoo. I hope something come as out of this lawsuit. How can they do this? Walmart is still stocking it on their shelves.

  • gemaNovember 29, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    I started to us it about 2/3 months and I have lost so much so hair that I have bold spot, I also notice my scalp is red and Irritated. I need to know if it’s going to grown back?

  • KimNovember 26, 2021 at 2:54 am

    I can’t believe this is my 1st time hearing of this. I just started using suave naturals Shea butter and almond shampoo and conditioner 2 months ago and my hair is falling out by the handful several times a day my hair has always been extremely thick. It’s healthy no chemical or color treatment for I’ve 2 years now rarely use heat or styling products. And it’s thinned so much in the last 2 weeks t[Show More]I can’t believe this is my 1st time hearing of this. I just started using suave naturals Shea butter and almond shampoo and conditioner 2 months ago and my hair is falling out by the handful several times a day my hair has always been extremely thick. It’s healthy no chemical or color treatment for I’ve 2 years now rarely use heat or styling products. And it’s thinned so much in the last 2 weeks that people are beginning to notice and my scalp hurts, burns my face my ears all burn. Irritated and red. I’m so upset!!!

  • ArmaniNovember 17, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    I’ve used the shampoo twice and my scalp burns like crazy and major shedding my pillow is full of hair. It’s more than daily shedding. It has thinned my super thick hair out. And I some got on face while rinsing it and that burns and is now dry and super irritated. I can’t touch my face or scalp without pain.

  • PatOctober 11, 2021 at 4:31 am

    My hairdresser washed my hair with Suave Instead of her usual shampoo yesterday. By morning my scalp was burning and it hurts to touch my hair. My forward and side of my face Have red whelps that are very sore. Thought the shampoo had ingredients that might have caused this. She read ingredients to me over the phone but neither of us recognized any of the words. I decided to Google for informatio[Show More]My hairdresser washed my hair with Suave Instead of her usual shampoo yesterday. By morning my scalp was burning and it hurts to touch my hair. My forward and side of my face Have red whelps that are very sore. Thought the shampoo had ingredients that might have caused this. She read ingredients to me over the phone but neither of us recognized any of the words. I decided to Google for information and found problems and law suits and people loosing their hair. I very concerned and upset.

  • DerrickOctober 6, 2021 at 10:43 am

    I've been using suave shampoo for 3 months now and I'm losing hair like crazy. I also have long hair and since I've been using suave shampoo my hair is now thin with 5 to 6 bold spots

  • JoyOctober 4, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    I have used Suave shampoo and conditioner for years. I have long hair, and have lost so much hair! I am so angry over this! I will be looking into this law suit. How long will it take to heal from this?

  • SamanthaOctober 1, 2021 at 1:55 am

    I have been using Suave for the last 6 months. I noticed my hair coming out in huge clumps over the last 2-3 months. Today I went to my hairdresser who immediately asked me what I’ve done differently because my hair is soooo much thinner and was falling out when she was brushing it. I told her I didn’t think I had done anything different but I did tell her I had noticed my hair falling out wheneve[Show More]I have been using Suave for the last 6 months. I noticed my hair coming out in huge clumps over the last 2-3 months. Today I went to my hairdresser who immediately asked me what I’ve done differently because my hair is soooo much thinner and was falling out when she was brushing it. I told her I didn’t think I had done anything different but I did tell her I had noticed my hair falling out whenever I wash it and brush it. She was concerned and told me to please schedule an appointment with my dr. After leaving the salon I called my dr and made an appointment. I discussed with my BF who asked me if I thought maybe it could be the hair products I use. So I decided to google suave shampoo and conditioner and hair loss and this article came up. I’m devastated over the massive amount of hair I’ve lost. I highly doubt it’s a medical issue because I feel great. No other issues except this hair loss. I’m going to proceed with talking to my dr and getting blood work done just in case. But I’m 99.99 percent sure it’s the Suave.

  • MiaSeptember 25, 2021 at 10:36 am

    I used Suave shampoo and conditioner daily for over 5 years, my scalp is destroyed now, you can see the one where it's burned from the formaldehyde, it's super red and extremely itchy, my hair is still falling out and I quit using all products with formaldehyde from Suave over a year ago, my scalp is now permanently damaged by Suave products.

  • TinaSeptember 5, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    I bought this conditioner and with the 1st use I had tremendous hair loss.i used the product a few more time and each time I had gobs of hair in my tub strainer.I switched to a different conditioner and I did not have not any issues.I decided to use the suave keratin conditioner again and I had tremendous hair fall out.I wish I would have seen this review earlier since I just used the condition[Show More]I bought this conditioner and with the 1st use I had tremendous hair loss.i used the product a few more time and each time I had gobs of hair in my tub strainer.I switched to a different conditioner and I did not have not any issues.I decided to use the suave keratin conditioner again and I had tremendous hair fall out.I wish I would have seen this review earlier since I just used the conditioner 3 days ago.I have so many new hairs that stick out because of the breakage.

  • GillianAugust 28, 2021 at 8:08 am

    My 10 year old daughter started using this shampoo at the first part of June. She used it at her grandmothers house and loved it. Within two weeks she had a bald spot on the top of her head. We have been to a dermatologist twice and had her thyroid checked. What started out as a quarter size bald spot has turned into a spot larger than a silver dollar. Completely void of hair. I have taken [Show More]My 10 year old daughter started using this shampoo at the first part of June. She used it at her grandmothers house and loved it. Within two weeks she had a bald spot on the top of her head. We have been to a dermatologist twice and had her thyroid checked. What started out as a quarter size bald spot has turned into a spot larger than a silver dollar. Completely void of hair. I have taken photos as her symptoms have progressed. Initially, there was only breakage to the hair but that changed rather quickly, the spot became a smooth bald spot and growing in diameter each week. She is being treated with a strong topical steroid ointment, applied twice a day and there hasn’t been any success in growing the hair back. She returns to school next week. Thank goodness for high pony tails since kids can be ruthless. Her Dermatologist thinks is alopecia. I just came across this article and I’m more than convinced they have it all wrong and it’s linked to this shampoo and conditioner.

  • ShirleyAugust 25, 2021 at 10:22 pm

    I have been using Suave for years. I'm as bald as a baby with spotty patches throughout my scalp. I just heard about the suit today, and will be looking into it.

  • LoriAugust 15, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    I used suave shampoo immediately my hair started coming out and I got a very dry itchy scalp . Six days later my hair is still coming out. How could they do this to people. This is so wrong on so many levels . I called them made a complaint. They sent me a check for 16.00 dollars . How does this seem fair ???

  • ThelmaJuly 27, 2021 at 12:42 am

    It's July 26th 2021, and I started using the Suave Keratin Infusion shampoo and conditioner .I've been using this brand for over 9 months now, I never really thought much about it, when I started having severe headaches, and then my hair started to come out, and I got really bad irritation to my scalp, and I had really long thick hair and I thought maybe that's why I was getting these headache, bu[Show More]It's July 26th 2021, and I started using the Suave Keratin Infusion shampoo and conditioner .I've been using this brand for over 9 months now, I never really thought much about it, when I started having severe headaches, and then my hair started to come out, and I got really bad irritation to my scalp, and I had really long thick hair and I thought maybe that's why I was getting these headache, but then my hair started falling out. It doesn't matter if my hair is wet or dry when you wash it, or brush it, it just comes out. I got to clean out my brush at least 3-4 times with just one brushing. Everyone told me it could be my thyroid causing me to lose my hair, so I went to my Doctor and had a bunch of tests done and my thyroid was fine nothing wrong with it. Then I talked to a hairdresser, and she asked me what kind of shampoo and conditioner I was using and I told her Suave Keratin Infusion shampoo and conditioner , she said to stop using that right way, because there was a lawsuit against the company that makes that shampoo and conditioner. And I'm still losing my hair, even when I'm asleep it comes out. I don't know what to do about my situation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • LindaJuly 19, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    I used this for a long time. My hair started falling out in clumps. Still have to wear hat or wig if I go out of the house. Still have a bottle partly used.

  • TheresaJuly 12, 2021 at 11:58 am

    I have been using Suave Keratin Infusion shampoo and conditioner a couple weeks now I started noticing about a week ago I am getting really bad headaches and eye irritation and my hair is coming out

  • PhyllisJune 25, 2021 at 2:40 am

    This could be true .I use Suave shampoo. It makes my brittle.and i have lost a lot of hair . It took me a while to realize Cause the bottle says different ....AND THIS IS TRUE ABOUT ME !!!

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