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If you have curly hair and have ever followed a “curly girl method” in your hair care routine, you might know about the DevaCurl shampoo lawsuit. To clarify, in 2020, DevaCurl faced multiple lawsuits from users who claimed they had had an adverse reaction to DevaCurl products, including hair loss (source). A year before that, in 2019, a Facebook support group was created for people who believed they were suffering hair and scalp issues from using DevaCurl products. One of the active DevaCurl promoters, Ayesha Malik, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Stopped Using DevaCurl” in which she apologized to anyone who had started using these products because of her. The video got more than 3 million views. Ultimately, many of the lawsuits were consolidated and on January 3, 2022, the consolidated DevaCurl lawsuits were settled for $5.2 million (source).
Personally, I do not know whether the claims by the plaintiffs in the lawsuits were true. Nor do I have an opinion as to whether these products were causing hair loss. However, in 2020, I wrote a blog post about DevaCurl shampoo ingredients, some of which are associated with medically documented cases of allergic reactions. Now, three years later, let’s see if the lawsuit has affected DevaCurl product formulations in any way. Specifically, we will look at the ingredients of DevaCurl Low-Poo Original and DevaCurl No-Poo Original cleansers. And if you are suffering from hair loss, check out my blog post entitled The Most Overlooked Hair Loss Causes.
DevaCurl Shampoo Ingredients
To begin with, my interest in ingredient research started with researching baby shampoo ingredients in 2012 when I was expecting a baby. Since then, I have read the ingredients of hundreds of shampoos and conditioners. And learned what ingredients they must have to function as such. I have also learned what ingredients hair cleansers may contain that can potentially cause adverse reactions and even hair loss.
According to Maryanne Senna, M.D., a dermatologist and the director of the Hair Academic Innovative Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, there is no need for a product to reach the hair bulb to cause hair loss. Some products can cause superficial inflammation, and that can lead to breakage and hair loss. Additionally, the inflammation around the follicle can cause it to harden, affecting both the hair texture and curl pattern. As for specific ingredients that may be causing irritation in DevaCurl shampoo, Dr. Senna points out fragrance, emphasizing that it is a significant sensitizer (source).
DevaCurl Low-Poo Original Cleanser Ingredients
Let’s compare the ingredients of Low-poo shampoo in 2020 and 2023. The ingredients that I consider concerning are in bold.
|Low-Poo Ingredients as of August 2020||Low-Poo Ingredients as of August 2023|
|Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-Betaine, PEG-75 Lanolin, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Extract (Matricaria), Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Humulus Lupulus Extract (Hops), Rosmarinus Officinalis Extract (Rosemary), Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Fragrance (Parfum), PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Polyquaternium-10, Propylene Glycol, Polyquaternium-7, Aminomethyl Propanol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.||Water, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citric Acid, Coco-Betaine, Disodium Edta, Disodium Phosphate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Polyquaternium-10, Polyquaternium-39, Polyquaternium-7, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbitol, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Benzoate, Geraniol, Linalool.|
We will talk about the ingredients I find concerning later, so keep reading! For now, I want to underline that Diazolidinyl Urea and Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate are no longer in the 2023 formulation of this DevaCurl shampoo. This is a true victory, and here is why.
To start with, diazolidinyl urea is a preservative that protects a product from the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold. Therefore, it is good that DevaCurl Low-Poo Original had a preservative in their 2020 formulation. However, diazolidinyl urea releases small amounts of dangerous formaldehyde into a product over time. In 2015, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named formaldehyde its Allergen of the Year (source).
In this study, researchers concluded that the primary cause of sensitization to diazolidinyl urea is via formaldehyde release. And in this study, researchers determined that longer storage time and higher temperatures increase the amount of formaldehyde released from diazolidinyl urea. This, in turn, can lead to higher risks of an allergic reaction.
Related: Hidden Ingredients In Cosmetics
Another preservative in DevaCurl Low-Poo Original used to be iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. It may also cause dermal irritation or allergic contact allergy. Therefore, the American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists it as one of the core allergens, even in concentrations as low as 0.1%.
In addition, according to the CIR Expert Panel 1998 report, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate readily penetrates the skin and is safe only in concentrations less than 0.1%.
For the reasons above, it is great that DevaCurl shampoo has no diazolidinyl urea and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate in its 2023 formulation. However, there are still other ingredients in it that I find concerning. Keep reading!
DevaCurl No-Poo Original Cleanser Ingredients
Let’s compare the ingredients of No-poo shampoo in 2020 and 2023. The ingredients that I consider concerning are in bold.
|No-Poo Ingredients as of August 2020||No-Poo Ingredients as of August 2023|
|Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Isopropyl Palmitate, Behentrimonium Chloride, Laureth-4, Propylene Glycol, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Wheat Amino Acids, Melissa Officinalis Extract, Humulus Lupulus Extract (Hops), Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Extract (Matricaria), Rosmarinus Officinalis Extract (Rosemary), Achillea Millefolium Extract, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Menthol, Citric Acid, Polyquaternium-7, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance.||Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Palmitate, Behentrimonium Chloride, Laureth-4, Glycerin, Ppg-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Citric Acid, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Isopropyl Alcohol, Menthol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Polyquaternium-7, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium Edta, Tocopherol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance, Citronellol, Geraniol.|
As you can see, the ingredients in this DevaCurl shampoo have not changed much. And the ingredients that I consider concerning are similar to those in the 2023 formulation of DevaCurl Low-Poo Original. They are:
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine
- Ethoxylated Ingredients (PEG, PPG, Polysorbate, and words that end in “-eth”)
- Fragrance and its ingredients (including Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool), and
So, let’s talk about them.
To begin with, cocamidopropyl betaine is a common surfactant in so-called “natural” shampoos. It’s what makes the shampoo lather. While it is made of coconut fatty acid, a renewable source, it is not so harmless, in my opinion.
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, a cosmetic industry association, has issued two reports on Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB). In the 1991 CIR report, the industry experts concluded that CAPB was not an irritant or sensitizer when used at concentrations of 3% or less. However, because of many reported cases of sensitization from the use of rinse-off products with this ingredient, the CIR Expert Panel re-opened its investigation into it. So, in 2012, the Panel recognized that cocamidopropyl betaine had the potential to induce skin sensitization – an allergic reaction after repeated contact with an allergen over time. Thus, it is possible that the DevaCurl Low-Poo Original users who noticed symptoms years after they began using this DevaCurl shampoo could have become sensitized to it.
To learn more about cocamidopropyl betaine and form your own opinion on its safety, as well as to learn the difference between it and coco betaine (which is in Low-Poo shampoo), read my post Is Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine Safe?.
In the 2023 formulation of Low-Poo shampoo, the ethoxylated ingredients are:
- PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
- PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, and
- Polysorbate 60.
And in the 2023 formulation of No-Poo shampoo, the ethoxylated ingredients are:
- Laureth-4, and
- Ppg-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate.
What is wrong with them?
Well, they are a group of ingredients made by the process of ethoxylation. In this process, carcinogenic ethylene oxide is reacted with other ingredients to make them less harsh on the skin. As a result of the ethoxylation process, carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane is created, and can be left behind in the product (source). Of course, 1,4-dioxane can be reduced or removed from a product through the vacuum-stripping process. But, as consumers, we do not know if this process actually took place. The worst thing is that this contaminant may be present as a hidden ingredient even in the “best” baby wipes.
Fragrance And Its Ingredients
The most important thing to understand about fragrance is that it is not just one ingredient. Instead, it is a mix of multiple ingredients that manufacturers typically choose not to disclose. Why? Because US law does not require manufacturers to do so. As they don’t want to tell their competitors how they made their shampoo smell like lilacs. If you scroll down the International Fragrance Association transparency list, you will see chemicals associated with cancer, endocrine disruption, and allergic reactions. Thus, such fragrance ingredients as benzyl benzoate, geraniol, and linalool in DevaCurl Low-Poo Original and citronellol and geraniol in the No-Poo DevaCurl shampoo are potential allergens. You can learn more about them, as well as why even “natural” fragrance is not that harmless, in my post Is Natural Fragrance Safe?.
For starters, phenoxyethanol is a common cosmetic preservative in skin care products, shampoos, liquid washes, mascaras, and foundations. It is not the worst one. But I choose not to use or promote products with this ingredient on my blog.
First, the American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists it as one of its core allergens, even in concentrations as low as 1%.
Another reason I do not promote products with phenoxyethanol is its manufacturing process. Indeed, phenoxyethanol is the product of the reaction of carcinogenic ethylene oxide with highly corrosive phenol. To clarify, all forms of phenol may cause irritation. Even highly diluted solutions (1% to 2%) may cause severe burns in the case of prolonged contact. You can learn more about this preservative and form your own opinion in my post Phenoxyethanol In Skin Care.
Conclusion About DevaCurl Shampoo
Some Ingredients In DevaCurl Hair Care Products May Cause an Adverse Reaction In Users.
I’d like to emphasize that I do not know whether the claims by the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits were true. Nor do I have an opinion as to whether DevaCurl products cause any hair loss or other scalp issues.
However, DevaCurl Low-Poo Original and No-Poo Original do contain ingredients that, in my opinion, can cause allergic reactions documented in medical and scientific literature.
Further, an allergic reaction usually occurs to an ingredient rather than to an entire product. Anything can cause an allergy, even seemingly harmless plant extracts or oils. Additionally, according to the principle of sensitization, it may occur even years after you started using a product. DevaCurl products seem to have many sensitizers that can cause such a problem. Learn about other Shampoo Brands To Avoid Today.
Therefore, as consumers we should educate ourselves on ingredients to be able to make informed decisions about products. By no means do I approve of any manufacturer who might have caused health issues to their customers. Nevertheless, we should understand that we are all in this together. A manufacturer of one product is also a consumer of another product. So, we all need to educate ourselves to bring positive changes to the world of consumer products.
Personally, I use Pure Haven non-toxic shampoo and conditioner, but my hair is straight. For curly-heads, I’d say Evolvh hair care will work well as well as Hair Print shampoos and conditioners. Check out other non-toxic shampoo options in the “Healthy Hair & Hair Color” section of my shop.
Browse the I Read Labels For You blog for free education on the safety of ingredients. Also, check out my e-books, look for other non-toxic products in my shop, and book a service with me if you need help with healthy living.
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