BROOKSVILLE, FL (WFLA) — Ask any woman, and she'll tell you just how bad it is to have a bad hair day. Some ladies equate good hair with high confidence, and in sharp contrast, some say bad hair would seal the deal on low self esteem.
Tina Bak used to take pleasure in hair care. She would spend big bucks on products and conditioning treatments. It made her feel good, she admits. Now, her gut-wrenching reality is drastically different. The Brooksville mother-of-two doesn't want to leave her house anymore. She cries often and dreads looking into a mirror most days. She carefully arranges her strands of hair when she pulls her locks into a ponytail.
"I'm devastated," Tina Bak told News Channel 8 in an exclusive interview Wednesday night. "I'm going bald, there's nothing I can do about it. Every day for me is a bad hair day. I can't get away from it."
Tina says that it all started with a birthday gift from her sister; an expensive hair care product called WEN, sold primarily in infomercials and popular retail stores like Sephora. The product isn't cheap. A bottle of the highly sought-after sweet almond mint cleansing conditioner costs $35.
Actresses such as Alyssa Milano and Angie Harmon have appeared in the segments, alongside their well-known Hollywood hairstylist-to-the-stars. In the on-air presentation, their friend and product founder, Chaz Dean, takes viewers through a step-by-step process, educating women on how WEN will change styling habits for the better and repair highly-damaged hair.
Tina was excited to begin using the product. But, she noticed something odd right away. "My scalp tingled. It was weird. And then it started," she said. "I didn't even really notice it at first. But, then I began digging through my drain in my bathtub. It was clogged with chunks of my hair."
Tina began to notice that bald spots were expanding on her scalp. She would brush her hair and she claims it would come right out of her head. Her scalp would itch and when she scratched it, she tells us, that the hair would rip out from the root.
"I have to vacuum all the time and when I emptied the vacuum, it's all of my hair. I get in the car, and hair is flying everywhere. Hair is all over my pillow in bed. It is literally all over the place," she explained.
At first, Tina thought she was sick, possibly suffering from a disease. "I began taking vitamins all the time. I thought I was going crazy. I thought I might be sick."
Tuesday night her questions were finally answered. She claims the mystery to her missing mane was solved as she watched News Channel 8. "I always watch Channel 8. I was watching that night, and I couldn't believe what I heard."
Tina was both shocked and relieved to hear that she wasn't the only one going through heartbreaking, mysterious hair loss. All over the country, women were reporting that they, too, experienced drastic, sudden and massive hair loss.
Women all said they had one thing in common; they shared their similar stories, pointing out that they all used products from the WEN hair care line.
"I couldn't believe what they were saying," Tina explained. "There were women sitting there talking about their hair loss, missing huge chunks of their hair." As she continued to listen to the news story, Tina also learned that a class action lawsuit was in the works.
More than 200 women, according to NBC News, had joined forces to demand action and answers in the lawsuit, including two women from Tampa Bay. Now, there will most likely be a third. Tina wants to join the class as well.
"It's not about the money," she said. "This company robbed us of our self-esteem. I don't even know if my hair will ever grow back. I don't trust any product now. I don't even want to wash my hair."
The company has not granted any on-camera interviews despite numerous requests from media outlets. Celebrity hairstylist Chaz Dean is listed in the class-action lawsuit along with Guethy-Renker, the distributor.
Although no personal interviews were granted, a statement was released by WEN to NBC News: "There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support any claim that our hair care products caused anyone to lose their hair," said Joe Hixson, the spokesperson for WEN. "There are many reasons why individuals may lose their hair, all unrelated to WEN hair care products."
The spokesman went on to say that the defendants would "vigorously contest the allegations made against our products." NBC News also reported that a settlement was being discussed.
WFLA spent the majority of Wednesday reaching out to the WEN Corporation. After repeated, unsuccessful attempts to reach a provided contact number on the website, WFLA was connected to a call center in the Philippines, then transferred back to the United States where a hair care specialist promised to pass along our questions and contact information. "I can't promise a call back today," she said. Calls were never returned.
As for Tina, she tells News Channel 8 her confidence has crumbled, but her story is crucial. "It was so hard for me to do this interview. I almost didn't meet you here. This is so embarrassing. But, I thought that if I spoke out, it may help other people, other women, and save their hair. I wish I would've known."