Olaplex is a hair-care brand that gained a massive following for its innovative bond-building technology that promises to repair damaged hair. The brand had a fast rise and became a household name, with numerous beauty influencers and celebrities praising its products. However, the company has suffered a severe backlash and plummeting sales due to negative customer feedback and mounting competition.

In February 2023, dozens of women sued the company, alleging that Olaplex’s products caused hair loss and damage. The brand’s declining sales and plummeting stock prices have pushed it into crisis management mode. Olaplex’s Chief Executive JuE Wong announced that the company has dedicated 2023 to be a “reset year,” with an awareness campaign that includes billboard advertising and a rapid-response approach to social media.

The husband-and-wife duo Dean and Darcy Christal founded Olaplex in 2014 after they realized the problem of chemically damaged hair. They soon joined forces with Craig Hawker, a chemist who developed the Olaplex formula. The company initially launched with salon-only products in Santa Barbara, California, and later moved to sell online and at Sephora and Ulta Beauty.

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Despite its massive following, Olaplex has faced criticism from customers who have taken to social media to share their negative experiences. One beauty influencer with 1.6 million followers on TikTok, Amy Chang, said she was disappointed with the products, and her followers asked her for her thoughts on them. Chang told her followers that she did not like the products, which set off a new cycle of negative coverage for Olaplex.

In May 2022, Olaplex reported a net sales increase of over 57% to $182.6 million in the first three months of the year, compared to the same period one year earlier. However, earlier that year, the company removed an ingredient called lilial from its products after the European Union banned the chemical. The move set off more negative coverage for Olaplex, with concerns posted on social media about the products’ possible connection to infertility.

In February 2023, roughly 100 women sued Olaplex over hair loss and scalp injuries that they alleged resulted from its products. The company has denied the allegations and shared results from independent third-party laboratories to prove that its products are safe to use.

Despite the negative press, Olaplex has doubled its marketing budget for 2023 and is hoping to regain its market position. While it remains to be seen if the brand can recover from its crash, it serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of customer feedback and social media in today’s market.

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