TikTok Shuts Down Shampoo Scam

TikTok: What parents need to know about online safety - Pittsburgh Parent

As I’m scrolling endlessly through TikTok, I notice that a lot of videos that show up on my ‘For You’ page are videos that teach me things about certain products or companies in the United States, and how they’re actually pretty harmful to the consumer. 

The first time I’ve seen a video like this on my timeline was on January 5th, 2020, by user @mikaaeeliah, the TikTok has since gone viral on the app. She included a video with images of certain shampoo bottles, and the thumbnail for the video stated, “if you use any of these shampoos please listen!!” Naturally, I sat through the video which showed pictures of many shampoos that I’ve used in the past, as well as companies that I’m currently using. 


This TikTok brought to my attention that the company Tresemme had a national class-action lawsuit filed against them for containing DMDM Hydantoin, a formaldehyde-releasing preservative which when mixed with water, is very harmful. The filer claims that the shampoo was a cause of her hair loss. 

Tresemme Keratin Shampoo Lawsuit | OnderLaw, LLC

The lawsuit states, “Formaldehyde is a well-known human carcinogen that can cause cancer and other harmful reactions when absorbed into the skin. DMDM hydantoin has been used as a preservative in Unilever products for more than a decade; however, the use of DMDM hydantoin as a preservative is an entirely unnecessary risk because various safer natural alternatives exist…the products are rendered dangerous and unsafe for sale as over-the-counter hair-smoothing shampoo products…”

WWW.Cancer.Org states, “Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in making building materials and many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials.” It can also be used to kill various bugs and insects. 

Another user @jpall93 also made a video with the title “Product brands I’ve found that have formaldehyde releasers in them…” She then goes on to list brands that include them in the 30-second TikTok video.  Some of these products are from really well-known cosmetic companies such as Neutrogena, Dove, Revlon, Loreal, V05, and many others. Amongst these are some of the Cera Ve products which dermatologists and self-proclaimed “skin-care experts” on the app speak highly of. 


TikTok user and student at Thomas A. Edison High School, Manjinder ‘Mansi’ Dushanch, who also has a significant amount of hair, was interviewed on the products she uses. “I use Pantene shampoo and conditioner for my hair. I haven’t really noticed any out of the ordinary hair loss when using the products.” She said. 

She emphasized that she wouldn’t have continued using the products after two years if she had experienced any hair loss. Mansi also stated that she chooses which products to use, or in this case, which product to use, based on what her family and friends think about it. “Whenever I buy shampoo or conditioner I usually don’t look at the ingredients list, I pick a certain brand based on what family or friends think about the product. Or I just use whatever my mom gets from the store” She said. 

And like many others who’ve seen these TikToks of people calling out these companies and major corporations/conglomerates, such as Unilever United States, Inc. for using harmful ingredients, Mansi explains that she will be more cautious when it comes to picking products, and advise her family members and friends to do the same. “ I will definitely be more cautious and do my research before buying products. I want to make sure that I get my money’s worth. So, I will look at the products before buying them and make sure that it’s good for my family and is healthy.”  She said. 

However, ChemicalSafetyFacts.org states, “DMDM hydantoin is a preservative found in cosmetics and personal care products, that works by slowing and preventing spoilage in products such as shampoos and hair conditioners, and in skincare products like moisturizers and makeup foundations.”

They also state on the website, “DMDM hydantoin is safe as a cosmetic ingredient at current normal levels of use in products, according to scientific experts at the Cosmetics Directive of the European Union as well as an independent Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel…to put formaldehyde exposures from DMDM hydantoin in personal care products into perspective, the tiny amount of formaldehyde released from a formaldehyde donor when shampooing your hair is about equivalent to the amount of formaldehyde naturally occurring in one medium-sized apple or pear.” 

I’m not sure what to believe, but I’d rather stay safe than sorry. There are many other shampoos with natural ingredients included in them that I will check out. And I definitely will not be purchasing products that contain DMDM hydantoin in them and will be checking the ingredient list of every cosmetic product I purchase from here on out. 

Ishrat Hassan

Hi, I’m Ishrat Hassan from Queens, NY and I love creating. During my free time, I like to watch TV shows/movies, paint, write, etc. After college, I’d love to have a career in interior design and real estate and eventually, start my own company within those fields.