DevaCurl products offering to tame frizzy hair have been "the focus and center" of the natural hair movement over the past two decades, Florida hair stylist Stephanie Mero tells NPR. Indeed, the New York Times describes a cult-like following by curly-haired women and men, some of whom used DevaCurl's cleansers, conditioners, gels, and foams every day. Many, including Mero, are now feeling a sense of betrayal. In at least 10 class-action lawsuits, customers say DevaCurl caused a variety of issues including curl pattern restructuring, hair and scalp damage, and massive hair loss. Mero has not joined any suit, though she experienced problems so severe that she eventually cut off all her hair. She did, however, create a Facebook group for customers to air their grievances, per the Times. It currently has more than 60,000 members.
"My hair started falling out in clumps, like disgusting, huge amounts," one member tells the Chicago Tribune. Others say they suffered rashes and even migraines. But DevaCurl, spawned out of New York City's DevaChan Hair Salon, maintains the safety of its products, sold at beauty store chains including Sephora and Ulta. While the company has offered refunds, a rep says the products "are proven to be non-irritating," per the Tribune. The company's website further claims the products can't cause hair loss "because they do not penetrate the scalp or affect the hair bulb." But experts say non-penetrating products can cause hair loss. And in any case, DevaCurl ingredients including aminomethyl propanol penetrate both the upper layers of the skin and the stem cell of the hair follicle, one hair restoration surgeon tells the Times. (A $26 million settlement resulted from similar claims against this brand.)