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City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto Settles with Keratin Hair Treatment Manufacturer over Misleading Formaldehyde Claims; Company to Refund Eligible Consumers

Posted on 03/13/2024

Los Angeles – Today, City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto announced that her office has settled a civil enforcement action against Lasio Professional Products, LLC (“Lasio”), a Florida-based manufacturer of hair straightening products. The suit alleged that, since at least 2016, the company has marketed and distributed a hair straightening product, Keratin Treatment – Keratin Tropic (“Keratin Tropic”), which it falsely advertised as “formaldehyde free” and “containing 0.00% formaldehyde,” although independent testing confirmed it contained the carcinogenic chemical. Associated risks of hair products containing formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals include cancer, reproductive toxicity, nervous system disorders, respiratory problems and serious irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and lungs. 

Under the terms of the settlement, Lasio is permanently prohibited from marketing, advertising, selling or distributing “Keratin Tropic” unless it is reformulated and tested to verify that it doesn't contain formaldehyde. Lasio has also agreed to pay a substantial civil penalty and to refund California consumers, including salons, who purchased the formaldehyde-containing product within the past four years. The Food and Drug Administration has recently proposed a ban on hair straightening products containing formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals due to the potential health impacts, which are more prevalent among Black women because they represent about 60% of US customers for hair straighteners and relaxers.

“The widespread popularity of hair straightening products and treatments disguise the potential health consequences they can pose, particularly those containing formaldehyde,” said Hydee Feldstein Soto, Los Angeles City Attorney. “It is vital that companies market their products truthfully, especially those that contain a carcinogen. My office will always take action to protect the health and safety of consumers in California.”

According to the complaint, Keratin Tropic is among the hair care products that Lasio manufactures, advertises and sells. The product purports to straighten hair and is advertised as containing “0.00% Formaldehyde” and as being “Formaldehyde free.” Independent testing confirmed that the product contains formaldehyde in excess of 10,000 milligrams per kilogram.

Lasio has made representations to consumers and salon professionals that the product does not contain formaldehyde, is “safe,” and makes hair “healthy.”  Because consumers and salon workers are aware that many hair straightening products contain formaldehyde, the misrepresentations can lead to consumers purchasing Lasio’s product over competing products. 

In addition to restitution and civil penalties of $68,000, which include refunds to identifiable California customers who purchased its Keratin Tropic product within the last four years, Lasio is permanently enjoined from marketing, advertising, selling or distributing this product unless it is reformulated and tested to verify the lack of formaldehyde. 

Among other stipulations, Lasio is further prohibited from violating:

  • California’s Unfair Competition Law - Business and Professions Code Sections 17200, 17500, and 17580.5, by making or disseminating misleading statements about the presence or specific level of formaldehyde in “Keratin Tropic”.
  • California’s Safe Cosmetics Act, by failing to provide the state’s Department of Health Services with an accurate list of cosmetic supplies that contain any ingredient that is a chemical identified as causing cancer or reproductive toxicity, and by marketing and selling a misbranded cosmetic product that has not been adequately substantiated for safety.
  • The Sherman Law by misbranding a cosmetic, or by manufacturing, selling or delivering a misbranded cosmetic.
  • The Greenwashing Law, by misrepresenting that the product is free of, or does not contain a substance, in this instance formaldehyde, when testing confirms it contains formaldehyde. 
  • The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (“Prop 65”) by failing to provide a “clear and reasonable warning” before exposing consumers to formaldehyde in excess of 40 μg/day.

This litigation was managed by attorneys in the Public Rights Branch of the City Attorney's Office.  The Public Rights Branch brings civil enforcement actions in the name of the People of the State of California, seeking to vindicate public rights related to many areas, including unlawful, fraudulent, or unfair business practices, consumer protection, environmental justice, nuisance abatement, and intellectual property.

LA Superior Court Civil Case No. 24STCV04830
The People of the State of California v. Lasio Professional Products LLC: Joint Stipulation
The People of the State of California v. Lasio Professional Products LLC: Complaint