We Asked a Cosmetic Chemist About the Ingredient Behind the TRESemmé Class Action Lawsuit

You may have heard the news or even seen a TikTok popup discussing the class action lawsuit against Unilever, the makers of TRESemmé. Two women said they had suffered from hair loss and scalp burns from TRESemmé Keratin Hair Smoothing Shampoo and Keratin Hair Smoothing Shampoo Conditioner, and noted that the company had not warned them about a dangerous chemical in the ingredients.

The ingredient
The ingredient DMDM ​​hydantoin is now on the radar of many consumers as the news of the lawsuit spreads further. In the application, applicants state that “DMDM hydantoin, a preservative known to release formaldehyde, is a known carcinogen and the products’ use of DMDM ​​hydantoin may cause or contribute to hair loss and scalp irritation. ”

According to ChemicalSafetyFacts.org, a website developed and maintained by the American Chemistry Council, “DMDM hydantoin is an odorless white, crystalline substance that acts as an antimicrobial and preservative in cosmetics and personal care products.”

Other hair care products
In recent social media posts, other shampoos from brands like Suave, VO5, Neutrogena, and others have been identified that contain the same preservative. A recent TikTok went viral when user @mikaaeeliah posted screenshots of more than a dozen popular shampoo and conditioner drug stores, warning viewers to stop using these hair products immediately.

The 411
To get the situation under control, we spoke to cosmetic chemist and NewBeauty Brain Trust member Ginger King, who shed some light on DMDM. “DMDM hydantoin is known to be a formaldehyde donor that can release formaldehyde, so it’s used as a preservative to kill insects,” she explains.

While formaldehyde-releasing preservatives help prevent the growth of microbes in water-based products, class action lawsuits are spreading awareness of how they affect consumers as a whole and how they have been linked to certain skin reactions. “Long-term use can lead to contact allergies, as has been documented in some studies,” adds King. “As for hair loss, an allergic effect on the scalp can cause people to scratch their heads and cause breakage. However, this is only a hypothesis and it remains to be proven whether the people who experienced hair loss also had itchy scalp symptoms initially. “

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