CHICAGO - Leslie Gomez noticed her ringlet curls becoming wavy and her hair thinning last summer, but she didn't panic until her mother told her, "You look like you're balding." Before that, she had a head full of shiny, perfect curls, she said, and she was horrified.
"That sent me into hysterics, because I'm thinking that something's wrong internally," Gomez said.
The following month, Gomez began getting medical tests done, wondering if her hair loss could be due to hyperthyroidism. The possibility of that diagnosis felt far-fetched to the 25-year-old because the condition doesn't run in her family, but she hoped for an answer.
The results from her tests came back normal, she said, and her worry increased.
"If you look at my scalp normally, with dry hair, you can see through the hair. That's how thin it got," recalled Gomez. "And that's not how it was before."
Gomez is one of many consumers alleging the products from the otherwise highly acclaimed hair care brand DevaCurl have been the cause of severe hair damage, such as hair loss, scalp issues and curl pattern restructuring, among other things. Some former consumers, who include influencers, are also alleging the products caused health issues, like constant migraines and skin rashes.
"I don't know if they reformulated and didn't say anything, or if their packaging is really messed up," said Gomez, "but my hair started falling out in clumps, like disgusting, huge amounts. In the shower, I could feel balls of hair just falling out (when washing my hair). It was horrifying."
In business for 26 years, DevaCurl offers products made specifically for curly-haired individuals, which include everything from cleansers and conditioners to gels, foams, custards and tools.
In March, at least three class-action lawsuits have been filed against DevaCurl's parent company.
Gomez, who used the brand for three years, attributes her severe hair loss to some of the DevaCurl products, because when she removed DevaCurl from her hair care regimen and switched to a different brand, she noticed "a lot less fallout," she said.