Plaintiff Molly Crane bought a bottle of Healthy Sexy Hair Sulfate-Free Soy Moisturizing Shampoo, made by Sexy Hair Concepts, LLC and sold by Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. According to the complaint for this class action, the front of the bottle carried in large print the claim that the shampoo was “sulfate-free” and free of salt. However, the complaint alleges, the small print on the back of the bottle said that the shampoo contains sodium sulfate (a sulfate), sodium chloride (table salt), and ammonium chloride (another salt).
The Nationwide class for this action concerns all persons in the US who bought Sexy Hair hair care products that were labeled sulfate- or salt-free but contained sulfates or salt. The Massachusetts Class is all persons who bought, in Massachusetts, Sexy Hair hair care products that were labeled sulfate- or salt-free but contained sulfates or salt.
In the Memorandum on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, the judge makes statements about the complaint that seem to apply to a later or amended version. According to this document, the complaint says that the complaint claims that consumer organizations, hair industry participants, and other sources have voiced reservations about the use of sulfates in hair-care products. It quotes beauty experts Michelle Villet and Melissa Jongman as indicating that sulfates in shampoo can be irritating and can cause damage to hair, and articles in Women’s Health Magazine and Essence that claim that sulfates can dry out both scalp and hair. Additional quotes from L’Oreal Paris said that “sulfate-free shampoos are gentler on the hair fiber” and that “[s]ulfates are associated with harshness.
Because of these kinds of statements, the complaint claims that consumers seek out sulfate-free shampoos, believing that they are safer, healthier, and of better quality, and they are willing to pay more for them. In fact, the complaint alleges that shampoos on Ulta’s website that are advertised as being sulfate-free are generally priced more than 50% higher than shampoos that contain sulfates.
The complaint alleges that the companies have violated Massachusetts laws against deceptive advertising as well as laws against unjust enrichment.