For more than two decades, DevaCurl — the distinctively scented line of hair-care products for curls — has maintained a large and devoted following. Recently, however, many users have noticed some unpleasant changes in their hair — hair loss, in some cases by the handful; itchy and irritated scalps; and frizzy, breakage-prone curls — which they believe are side effects of DevaCurl use. The complaints have become so widespread that, in January, two legal firms issued a call for participants in a class-action lawsuit against the brand.
So, what the hell is going on with DevaCurl? Here’s everything we know so far.
DevaCurl customer testimonials.
According to Vice, the negative reviews began rolling in about five months ago. Customers posted product reviews on Sephora, warning of thinning hair, “crazy dandruff,” and shedding. Criticism appears to have picked up steam after the Daily Dot covered the DevaCurl backlash online, including public denunciation of the brand by influencers. Two former brand ambassadors, beauty vloggers India Batson and Ayesha Malik, have publicly disavowed the brand. Batson, who has reportedly promoted DevaCurl products on the company website, said she hasn’t noticed any negative side effects from her own use. Still, in a video posted Tuesday, she said she cannot ignore the “horror stories” and insinuated she won’t back the products anymore.
Malik, meanwhile, spoke to the alleged issues firsthand.
“If you bought DevaCurl products because of me, I am sorry,” Malik said in her “official statement” video. Posted to YouTube on January 31, the video has nearly one million views, and has generated over 5,000 comments.
“If you’re currently using these products, stop immediately: I do not recommend them,” Malik continued. “I used DevaCurl every single day for six years. I used it religiously.” But then her hair started looking dry, sort of crispy, and she started getting dandruff. “It was like it was snowing every day,” she recalled. “It was itching like crazy, my scalp was on fire.”
But as Malik mentions, the controversy had been brewing well before she got involved. Starting last spring, after she restocked her DevaCurl products, Florida hairstylist Stephanie Mero began noticing drastic changes in her hair and her customers’ hair. It was “fried,” she told ABC 7 New York. “I have not seen damage like this from color, bleach, I haven’t seen damage like this from heat. This is different. The cuticle of the hair, it’s like it exploded.”
Mero started airing her grievances publicly, and also created a Facebook support group, which — at time of writing — had nearly 25,000 members and counting, many of whom have shared photos and videos of their heads before and after DevaCurl. The “after” photos show drastic thinning, chunks of hair that have fallen out, bleeding scalps, and large flakes of dandruff.
What does DevaCurl say?
In a statement to its “devoted Deva community,” DevaCurl said it remains “committed to providing the information you need to continue to use DevaCurl with confidence.”
Touting its rigorous testing of every Deva product, the brand said that they doubled down when complaints began coming in.
“Because some of our community have recently asked more questions about some of our products, we have conducted additional testing at the manufacturer and warehouse level,” the statement says. “In addition, we worked with an independent third-party toxicologist to verify the safety of these formulas. All these tests verified there are no safety issues with our products [emphasis DevaCurl’s]. We don’t speculate on why some people are attributing the challenges with their curls to our products. As part of our ongoing commitment to product safety and the satisfaction of our Deva Community, we are conducting additional testing with an independent party.”
Which products have allegedly been causing problems?
Has DevaCurl changed its formula?
Some users suspect so, although the brand hasn’t said anything about it. A German company called Henkel acquired DevaCurl in November, but based on customer testimonials, many people started experiencing problems with the products months (or in some cases, years) before that.