HBO's Not So Pretty Review
Episode 4 – Hair
In this blog post, Ology Essentials’ Chief Formulator reviews episode 4 of HBO’s ‘Not So Pretty.’ For an overall review, be sure to read HBO’s ‘Not So Pretty’ Review by a Cosmetic Formulator.
Episode 4 tells the stories of many of the influencers involved in the #DevaDamage movement from 2020. I am not 100% sure what happened with the whole DevaCurl problem. Their ingredient decks read very much like hundreds of other hair products on the market. So without seeing the actual formulas and percentages I cannot speak from a place of knowledge on why so many people had adverse effects. I did have a family member using the product when the stories started coming out in 2020 who asked me to look into it.
This episode was horrifying to watch and at the same time had a tinge of fearmongering. “In the hair episode, for example, they give an example of a woman who had an itchy scalp, started losing hair, struggled with anxiety and memory loss, and even delayed speech. It cannot be conclusively said that all of these issues were related to the DevaCurl product she was using. Yet, the docuseries implies that these were a result of the product use, which I think is quite on the edge of fearmongering.” Krupa Koestline in Beauty Independent.
I am not sure if the Deva Curl products were were a misbranded product or if some combination or usage level of one ingredient could have caused it which goes back to making a misbranded product. According to the FDA a product can be considered misbranded if, “…It is dangerous to health when used in the dosage or manner or with the frequency or duration prescribed, recommended or suggested in the labeling…”
Social media played a huge role in spreading information about #DevaDamage and so many wonder if the Tourette-like Syndrome that is happening right now with young girls watching TikTok offers a clue towards some sort of mass event. It could be that some sort of chemical reaction was happening with some people and not others. A great example of how some people’s chemistry reacts differently from one person to another is orange blossom distillate. If you spray orange blossom distillate on 100 people it will smell delicious on almost everyone until you hit the one person whose chemistry makes it smell like cat urine. We have our very own chemistry, sensitivities, and mast cell reactions to different ingredients. I react to all sorts of things–but we should not regulate the world based on my wacky reactions.
The company did reformulate. My theory all along was that the Diazolidinyl Urea was the issue. It is a formaldehyde releasing ingredient. There are people who have a formaldehyde allergy or it could have been too high or reacting with something else in the formula. There are several articles about formaldehyde releasing ingredients in hair care products, here are two of them: She Finds, Healthline and the CDC.
I want to be clear that I am only theorizing because I have not seen the formula, but I did check the new product and sure enough it has a new preservative system. The No Poo Original from January 1, 2018 ingredient deck shows diazolidinyl urea in the ingredient deck and the new No Poo now uses Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (boosts the effectiveness of phenoxyethanol), Sodium Benzoate (pH dependant co-preservative), Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate (chelating agent), Tetrasodium EDTA (chelating agent), Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate (a synthetic antioxidant for product stability), and Tocopherol (Vitamin E/antioxidant). They also made the new product fragrance free.
Let me reiterate that it is important to look at both sides to make decisions for yourself. It is odd that a brand that had been on the market since 1994 suddenly had such a dramatic change in consumer response. Devacurl was acquired in May of 2017. In the digital breadcrumbs that I searched to see if they reformulated after that acquisition it is not clear whether there was any reformulation after the purchase or not. DevaCurl has made statements about safety and their company values.
About the Author
Kayla Fioravanti has been a leading expert in the natural cosmetics industry for over 22 years. In 1998, she co-founded Essential Wholesale – one of the first all natural cosmetics/ingredients companies – that started out with $50 in her kitchen and grew to a multimillion dollar company (all while raising her 3 kids). As Ology’s Chief Formulator, Kayla is able to combine her love for natural remedies like aromatherapy, herbal medicine and CBD with her expert knowledge as an organic/natural cosmetic formulator. Kayla is extraordinarily grateful to be on this journey with her family and loves that Ology Essentials is leading the way as a majority woman owned CBD company! Kayla is also an aromatherapist, aromatherapy educator, business consultant and an award winning author.