On Thursday, Olaplex began a defensive marketing push to fight back against a lawsuit accusing the brand’s products of causing hair loss and scalp sensitivity and irritation.
JuE Wong, chief executive officer of Olaplex, took to Olaplex’s social media channels in a just over two-minute video to state that the suit, filed last week in California, was based on “misinformation.” Across platforms, Olaplex has 3.2 million followers.
“This has gotten to a point where we have to react,” Wong told The Business of Beauty. “Hair loss is a very stressful and emotional issue. I feel very responsible as a CEO that this is causing anxiety and it is not necessary. We need to defend ourselves. … This is a frivolous lawsuit.”
In a Feb. 9 complaint, the plaintiffs, a group of 28 consumers represented by Dallas-based lawyer Amy Davis, accused Olaplex of false advertising. Among the messages they say were deceptive include that its products restore damaged hair, create “strong, healthy-looking, more resilient hair” and are the “ultimate breakage insurance.” Davis states in the suit that “plaintiffs have suffered and are entitled to recover damages, both compensatory and punitive.”
Wong’s initial response is just the beginning of the brand’s outward response. She said communications going forward will lean heavily on the brand’s human repeat insult patch tests (HRIPT), which are a FDA standard for topical beauty and OTC products. Olaplex conducted this test on all of its products between December 2014 to February 2023 for its latest product, No. 4D Dry shampoo, via independent labs. It will kick off a series of upcoming videos featuring Olaplex’s internal scientists and team within the next week.
“We’ve gone through rigorous testing to make sure our products are safe, and more importantly that they don’t cause hair loss or hair breakage,” she said.
Though the lawsuit has not reached class action status, there are several disgruntled customers in Facebook groups claiming Olaplex has damaged their hair. One of the largest groups, “Olaplex Hair Loss/Hair Damage?” has 6,200 members. Davis opened a call for more potential clients to share if they believe they were injured by Olaplex products on her website through an “Olaplex Investigation Questionnaire.” Davis did not respond to requests for comment, but hair care litigation appears to be her focus; she currently has a pending case against Monat and previously brought a case against DevaCurl.
Previously, Olaplex responded to the suit with only a statement. “There are a wide variety of reasons for hair breakage or hair loss, as medical and scientific experts have publicly stated, including lifestyle, various medical conditions and medications, the aftereffects of Covid, skin conditions and more,” the company said on Feb. 9.
Founded in 2014, Olaplex is often credited with creating the prestige hair care category. In September 2021, the fast-growing brand raised $1.55 billion in its initial public offering, but the stock is down 70 percent from its IPO. In October, Olaplex cut its annual forecast, and is expecting sales between $704 million and $711 million in its next quarter. The brand will announce upcoming results on Feb. 28.