Suave Keratin Class Action LawsuitA Kentucky federal judge has rejected Unilever U.S. Inc.’s motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit accusing the company of falsely advertising that its Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit products are safe, even though they allegedly caused hair to fall out.

Due to a lack of explicitly relevant Kentucky state case law, Judge Joseph H. McKinley relied heavily on a similar decision in district court in Illinois, especially regarding the women’s claims that the company breached express warranties. The women both alleged that they chose the product because it would only last 30 days and would result in smoother hair. Instead one woman suffered breakage and the other reportedly developed scalp burns after using the product.

Plaintiffs Terri Naiser and Jonnie Phillips allege in the Suave Keratin class action lawsuit, filed last year, that they purchased the kit because it was advertised as a keratin-based smoothing treatment instead of a chemical relaxer and its effects were supposed to last up to 30 days. The plaintiffs also claim they purchased the product because the label said that it did not contain formaldehyde and that the treatment was safe. Naiser and Phillips allege that all of these claims are untrue, and that the product contains an ingredient or combination of ingredients that cause hair to fall out.

While Unilever recalled the Suave Keratin Smoothing Kit in May 2012, the company allegedly failed to warn consumers about the side effects associated with it. In their class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that Unilever breached express and implied warranties and violated consumer protection laws by issuing a late and incomplete recall of the hazardous product.

Unilever sought to dismiss the Suave Professional Keratin class action lawsuit in its entirety, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to identify an “affirmation of fact or promise” by the company that was untrue. Unilever also claimed that the plaintiffs did not adequately argue that they relied on the advertisements when making the choice to purchase the product. Further, the company argued, there was no privity of contract under Kentucky law because the plaintiffs purchased the products from a retailer and not directly from the company itself. For these reasons, Unilever argued, the plaintiffs did not have standing to file the class action lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. rejected Unilever’s motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit, finding that the plaintiffs adequately pled their case. He found that the plaintiffs sufficiently argued that the Suave Keratin Smoothing Kit was advertised as a “smoothing” product and not a “chemical relaxer,” a representation that could be considered an “affirmation of fact or promise” that could survive a motion to dismiss. He rejected Unilever’s argument that the representation was “mere puffery,” finding instead that it could be interpreted as a factual statement by a reasonable consumer.

Judge McKinley also found that the plaintiffs sufficiently argued that they relied on Unilever’s representation, believing they were purchasing a short-term hair smoothing product instead of a harsh chemical relaxer when they chose to buy the Suave Keratin Smoothing Kit. He also found that the class action lawsuit could proceed under the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act because the plaintiffs adequately argued that Unilever engaged in false, misleading or deceptive practices.

The plaintiffs are represented by Richard A. Getty and Danielle Brown of the Getty Law Group PLLC; Peter Safirstein, Elizabeth S. Metcalf and Christopher S. Polaszek of Morgan & Morgan PC; and Jana Eisinger of Law Office of Jana Eisinger PLLC.

The Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit Class Action Lawsuit is Terri Naiser, et al. v. Unilever United States Inc., et al., Case No. 3:13-cv-00395, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

–Additional reporting by John Curran

UPDATE: Unilever agreed to a $10 million class action settlement resolving claims that Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit was falsely advertised and damaged hair.

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14 Comments

  • Kris October 15, 2013

    Will This be opened up at any time as a class action? I had the exact same thing happen to me, my scalp was burned and anyone around me could smell “burning hair”. I have lost over half of my original thickness and hair still continues to fall out. Please advise. Thank You

  • Charlene October 17, 2013

    bought this product last year and used it just last week. I would not have used it if I had seen or heard anything about the product burning your hair or making it fall out. Or any sort of refund. Or being taken off the shelves. Unfortunately I did not. I wish I could show you pictures of what this product has done to my hair. I am in a professional roll at work. Meeting with potential clients on a daily basis. I can see them staring at my hair, as I look like I could be a cancer patient. A woman’s hair is her virtue. I’m angry as hell and thoroughly embarrassed everyday of my life.

  • Jeremiah Bohn October 18, 2013

    this messed up my hair, I used to straighten my hair, but after this I dont think I want to, missing hair on the top back of my head, and had burns on the back of my ears and top and on my neck and they felt like major burns it was so bad that my hair woud stick to my ears at that burn marks, you can still see the burn marks cause they left scars and this was a half of year ago

  • christina October 18, 2013

    I used this product last year to smooth my hair since it said it contained no harsh chemicals. It burnt my hair to the point where I had to cut about 12inches off. I have never been so embarassed or angry about my hair before! Shame on them!

  • Joe d. Montoya October 18, 2013

    I am using suave keratin infusion smoothing shampoo one of the ingredients is tetra sodium EDTA . I have used this shampoo for sometime now . I have noticed my hair falling out every time I comb. Even when I am in the shower it comes out in clumps.

  • Teneka Ray October 19, 2013

    I used this product. Not only did it burn my hair out but it also burned my scalp

  • fannie porchia October 19, 2013

    My granddaughter applied this to my hair and I have to now where wigs because it has burned my hair competely out

  • Shana Minor October 20, 2013

    I purchased the Unilever’s Suave Keratin Infusion 30-day smoothing kit in March of 2012. I followed the package directions to the letter after completing the questionnaire on the company’s website. The product destroyed my hair! Not only did I have to have nearly 8 inches of damaged hair cut off, I was still experiencing hair loss four months later. I contacted Unilever to complain about the terrible result of their product on my hair, and the simply sent me coupons for more of their product and a check for $12.99 as reimbursement for the “inconvenience!” I have since spent many hundreds of dollars trying to correct and repair the damage this despicable company’s product caused. I was not surprised in the least to find that there is now a class action suit against Unilever, and even if I receive no monetary compensation, I hope that the company is forced to make right all the damage they have caused to so many women.

  • Jannet Dimas October 21, 2013

    I bought two packages one for me and one for my daugther thank god I tried it first. It melted my hair. My hair was gummy and strtetchy. I immediately washed it off. But the damage was done. I have been wearing extensions for over a year and still have like 3 inches of dry damaged brittle hair!

  • pat b October 21, 2013

    Last year for easter I decide not to use a lye relaxer for my then 9yr. Old daughter’s hair so sfter seeing all the commericals on kertain & reading up on this product . I decide this would great for my daughter. It look great afterwards but later that week her hair started to fall out by the hands full. She has been losing hair ever since.I have not been able to do to anything to. stop the breakage. My daughter had beautiful. thick hair until the damage from kertain. Please help

  • Debbie W. November 22, 2013

    I used this product in May of 2012. It is now Nov 2013. I’m still suffering the effects of this horrible product. I have natural curly hair. This product promised smooth silky hair. No harsh chemicals.
    When I applied the solution, I oticed a strong rotten egg smell. I had to open the windows in the whole house. The smell alone lingered in my house for days.
    This product burnt the heck out of my hair. Instead of smooth silky hair, I had burnt frizzy hair! It was coming out in clumps! It burned my scalp, and caused tons of hair loss.
    I immediately contacted my personal hairdresser. I walked into my Salon that I had been going to for years. I knew all the hairdressers in the Salon. They were shocked to say the least. I had four hairdressers gathered around me asking me what the hell I did! When I told them which product I used they were shocked.
    In the past 18 months, I’ve spent a small fortune trying to get my original hair back. Over the past year I’ve had well over 12 inches cut off my hair. My hairdresser said the only way to get this stuff out of my hair wast to cut it off. So slowly, I’ve had to keep getting more and more hair cut off. Obliviously this did not wash out in 30 days. I have to use expensive shampoo and conditioner, plus a special hair masque cream on my hair. These products are extremely expensive. After 18 months, my hairdresser told me last week, were finally getting there. More haircuts, and special products I still must do and use. The shampoo and conditioner are around 30.00 a bottle each. The hair masque is 40.00 a jar, plus all the haircuts I’ve had to have is adding up quickly. I have contacted a lawyer about the Cival Lawsuit. I intend to go through with this suit, so that they are never allowed to do this again to anyone. Living this way for 18 months had been painful, and humiliating! I wish all the very best for all of you who went through the same ordeal!
    Thank you
    Debbie W.
    Upstate, N.Y.

  • Santos Peralez February 26, 2014

    I actually bought the shampoo and conditioner today (2/26/14) and it has those ingredients in it. Why are stores still selling this product? I am very lucky that I checked the reviews before I used this hazardous waste in my hair. I have low immunities due to a transplant, so who knows what could have happened to me.

  • Christiansen Davis March 10, 2014

    Unilever Sends Out Notice of Pending Settlement in Suave’s 30-Day Keratin Treatment Kit

    Dallas, TX | March 7, 2014 — Unilever recently asked a court to approve a settlement that could bind all victims who have not yet settled their claims individually. In our opinion, the proposal is unfair to victims. Reimbursement for efforts to repair damaged hair and for medical treatment would be limited to much less than what many actually spent out of pocket. The proposed settlement would also minimize compensation to victims for psychological injuries and would require victims go through a special process to prove they deserve any compensation for these injuries at all.

    We can now make a request on your behalf to opt out of the proposed class action settlement. That will allow us to pursue your claim without the strict limitations and uncertain claims process required if the settlement is finally approved.

    Call us to talk more about your options and how we can help you choose the best, quickest and easiest method for you to be compensated fairly for your injuries. Please call 214-838-3501 ext. 2 or 1-800-388-1736. Christiansen Davis LLC, 4100 Spring Valley Rd., Suite 450 Dallas, TX 75244.

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