Former users of the DevaCurl hair care line are warning others about their experiences after claims the product can cause severe hair loss, scalp burning, rashes and other symptoms.
Concerns about DevaCurl went viral after social media influencer Ayesha Malik posted a video on Jan. 31 titled “Why I Stopped Using DevaCurl” on YouTube. Since its released, it has received more than 1.5 million views.
“It came to the point where I never saw a good hair day ever again,” said Malik in the video, who is a former ambassador for the brand.
The brand markets itself towards curly-haired women, particularly women of colour who want to wear their hair naturally.
“My hair … doesn’t look like how it used to. For the first time in my life, I experienced dandruff,” said Malik. After using DevaCurl for six years, she blames the company for her hair losing its curls and volume.
“These products are really expensive … and that’s why I feel like I’ve been lied to.”
Ayesha Malik claims that her hair has become less curly since she started using DevaCurl.
Criticism against the hair care brand first surfaced in August 2019 when Florida hairstylist Stephanie Mero created a Facebook group for anyone who made similar allegations about the brand. The group now has more than 40,000 members. As well, some lawyers are also seeking a potential class-action lawsuit against DevaCurl.
The company released a statement on its website on Tuesday and a similar statement to Global News, explaining that their products have “gone through rigorous testing that has confirmed they are safe and adhere to both quality assurance and regulatory standards.”
It states that they have partnered with medical professionals, stylists, dermatologists and members of their “curl community” to address concerns that safety tests may not address.
DevaCurl also shared answers to questions about the kinds of testing they do along with what ingredients are in their products.
The impact of hair loss for women
Some DevaCurl users are posting their hair loss concerns on social media.
Lama, a woman from Toronto, says she’s stopped using DevaCurl products recently after being devoted to the brand for more than five years. (Global News has agreed to withhold her last name for privacy reasons). She was first attracted to the brand in 2014 when she wanted to start wearing her hair naturally.
Endorsements from popular social media influencers in the curly-hair community made the product seem reliable and tested, she said.
“At the beginning I found that it was really positive because it was the first time embracing my curly hair,” said Lama, 25.
Initially, she thought the hair loss and scalp sensitivity issues had to do with changes in the weather, stress or a thyroid problem. But a visit to the doctor confirmed that she had no underlying conditions that could cause these issues, she said. She continued to use the products because she trusted the brand and didn’t think that could be the problem.
“In the last two years, I found it got really bad,” she said. “That’s when I’ve noticed the more hair loss, like a significant amount of hair loss. And the actual curls themselves, they don’t curl anymore. It looks like they are relaxed.”
Losing hair has impacted her self-esteem, especially as woman of colour who has been discouraged from wearing her hair natural in the past, she said. DevaCurl’s marketing made her feel that having curly hair was beautiful, and she said she now feels duped.
“It can really ruin your confidence … it just looks terrible,” she said. “It’s just a whole journey trying to get your hair to a better place, and a lot of us have to restart. And now for me, I’m being very careful about what I use.”
Hair loss, particularly for women, can have severe psychological impacts and is linked to anxiety, depression and social withdraw according to researchers.
“We see many women every day in our office who are impacted by their hair loss … emotionally,” said Dr. Jonathan Huber, a Toronto-based surgeon at the Toronto Hair Transplant Centre.
“We see people suffer from depression as a result of their hair loss. We see people lose their confidence, their inability to go out into public … we can only imagine how that impacts your emotional state.”
For men, it’s socially acceptable to lose hair over time, but expectations on women is that they need beautiful, full hair consistently, he said.
“You lose a big part of yourself that you never expected to lose in the first place, and certainly if you’ve lost it because you’ve done something you thought was going to be good for your hair, it makes the impact all that much worse.”
Huber also recommends testing small amounts of a new product first for a few weeks, to be sure that it’s the right one to you. Seek medical help if you have an adverse reaction so they can determine the cause of the issue, he said.
‘My scalp is permanently sensitive’
After using DevaCurl for five years, Inderpreet Gill says she’s ditched the products as well after her scalp became extremely irritated, itchy, flaky and inflamed. She is now on prescription medication from a dermatologist to help ease her symptoms.
“The skin is inflamed and I even spoke to my dermatologist a few weeks ago, and she said you’ve got yeast growing on your scalp … and I now have permanent dermatitis on my scalp,” she said. “I also had some sort of dermatitis or psoriasis … in my ears.”
Gill, 27, who lives in Toronto, initially chalked up the issues to environment changes after moving from Vancouver, or possible hormonal issues. She also started to notice excessive hair loss when brushing her hair. Using DevaCurl products was to “truly appreciate my hair and not be ashamed of it … but I don’t have nearly as much volume or as much hair as I did before,” she said.
By the end of summer 2019, she started to feel the DevaCurl products might be the issue, and stopped using them.
A woman shares her experience with DevaCurl on Instagram.
“It was definitely frustrating financially because I was spending all this money on these products and all these treatments … they had so many brand ambassadors and everything looked great, but I wasn’t getting there,” she said.
Since the products were so popular on social media, Gill says she will have trouble finding another curly-hair brand she’s confident about. She also hopes to get a refund on the DevaCurl products she bought at Sephora.
“It’s making it harder for me to trust other companies, because, they say it’s supposed to work but what if it doesn’t actually?” she said. “My scalp is permanently sensitive now from here on out.”