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A Scary High Number of Cosmetic Products Are Causing Adverse Reactions

A vast portion of the beauty products we see on local pharmacy's shelves promise to give our hair “volume,” “lengthen” our eyelashes, and “plump” lips. However, a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found that most of these claims are false, and depending on the chemicals used in the product, the ingredients in these products can provoke negative side effects.

According to the study, the number of adverse reactions from these products escalated from 706 in 2015 to 1,591 in 2016. Baby products, personal cleanliness products, hair care, and hair coloring products were found to be the biggest culprits - responsible for the highest number of injury, death, and disability reports.

From 2015 to 2016, the number of reported negative side effects increased two-fold. The study’s author, Steve Xu, MD, says these complaints were mainly directed at WEN products. Customers claimed that the hair care brand was causing hair loss and skin irritation. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had only received 127 complaints about WEN, 21,100 complaints had been lodged with the brand itself.

The FDA only regulates about 20 percent of U.S. goods. Companies are not legally required to file adverse events with the FDA, which is why the FDA urged customers to send complaints directly to WEN. Despite the public’s efforts, WEN products are still available for sale. Although, the FDA is still investigating the brand.

“Many of these products are really making drug-like claims but are skirting the FDA approval pathway by presenting themselves as a cosmetic,” said Xu. “At the very best, these products are making unsubstantiated marketing claims for products that may or may not work. At the very worst, there are actual drug components in these products that can cause real harm.”

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