Friday, April 3, 2009

Lorraine Massey wrote to me

Gentle readers, gather round. I want to share an email I received from Lorraine Massey today. (I don't think she'd mind my putting it out for the world to see.)

dear Sage!
came across your blog ,someone 4warded it to me!!
so sorry about your frustration with me ,but i never claimed to be an author!
we never even thourght [sic] we would sell as many copies as we did!!
YES , i am updating & expanding CG as we Curl!!
thank you ,its curly girls like you that push me to try even harder
much curLOVE
lorraine ox

She is obviously responding to my post of a few weeks ago, in which I implored her to speak up about several discrepancies between the philosophy in her book and the ingredients in her products. Mainly, though, the post asked her publicly to update her book in order to address these discrepancies.

She must subscribe to Google Alerts or something because she found me and wrote to assure me that another book is coming.

Most of us knew that already, thanks to the Curly Girl Challenge. And for the most part, it's good news. As long as the book has more substance than the first one, that is.

I am touched, honored, and flattered that Lorraine would take the time to write me. It's also good business. Her timing is interesting, though, isn't it? For those of us who've been following the controversy at NaturallyCurly about the Curly Girl Challenge, Lorraine's response comes up a little short, I'm sorry to say.

I wrote her back, and here is what I said:


What a pleasure to hear from you! I'm very flattered that you took the time to write me, and I'm excited to know that another book is in the works. I'd heard about it through the Curly Girl Challenge you are conducting with the help of

I'm not sure whether you know that you and Deva are not getting good press at the moment. There is confusion over not only the contest, but the Deva line of products. And nobody from Deva is representing the company in a manner that adequately addresses the community's concerns, which is only adding fuel to the fire and raising the level of debate. In fact, I am sharing this email with the readers of my blog at because many of us are following this topic with great interest.

I confess that I am at a loss to figure out why so many questions continue to go unanswered. Rather than sending a representative to field questions and promote Deva at, why don't you speak to us directly, as you did to me via email? The Curly Community who frequent the forums there are rapidly losing faith in what you and Deva stand for. Nobody is happy about the situation. I would think that would be true of you most of all.

A Deva representative stated: "Any trace amount of a cone that was previously in Deva, has been removed. The reason it was there in the first place, was because we were unable to find a botanical replacement. However, I am happy to report that as of January 1st, 2009, DevaCurl is silicone free, paraben free, plastic free, resin free, sulfate free, botanically drenched and considered vegan. We have never tested on animals and we will never test on animals.

"Please note that by law, we have permission to finish any unused labels from 2008, but rest assured, any product that was filled in 2009, even with 2008 labels stands by our promise."

Some people have found the Challenge unclear and confusing. (I am not in that camp, but am just relaying some of the buzz to you.) More important, though, is the flurry of commentary that has arisen from the Deva rep's statement I quoted above. People are demanding to know:

1. How can Deva legally sell a product whose contents are not accurately represented on its label? Gretchen from tried to explain that Deva just wanted to use up all its labels. Are the costs of labels that big an expense for a company as large as Deva? And are labeling standards that loose in the United States? If so, it would seem that none of us should trust that what's listed on any product is actually what's inside the bottle/tube/jar. Why not put a new label over the old one, or at least date the bottles to help consumers know whether they are using the old or new formulation? Surely you can appreciate how ridiculous Deva looks when it makes a statement like that. You need to step in and clear things up.

2. Many of us, myself included, feel that DevaCurl OneCondition is the antithesis of what you say curly hair needs. It contains a silicone, and has no protein. (Your book states that a good conditioner should have a balance of protein, emollients, humectants, and moisture.) Although amodimethicone is a relatively light silicone, it is nevertheless present in OneCondition, and we can only assume, since Deva is your company, that you were fully aware it was there. Because you have been silent on this point, many of us have further assumed that you opted to put out such a product because it was financially expedient to do so. We'd probably even find it in our curly hearts to forgive you for that lapse in judgment if you'd just talk about it publicly. Your silence is forcing people to fill in the gaps, and when that happens, the truth is lost amid conjecture, accusation, and assumptions. The fact that Deva is now announcing that the silicone has been removed suggests that the company acknowledges it was mistake to have it in there in the first place.

3. The Deva rep says botanicals will replace the amodimethicone. What sort of botanicals? Because the new products aren't labeled properly, we cannot even consult the bottles for more information. Doesn't this lack of disclosure leaves Deva open to civil suits in the event that someone uses the "new" version that contains something they are allergic to? Why would Deva risk that? What is in the new formulation and why aren't you sharing the ingredient list?

Lorraine, I know you're busy but it wouldn't take long to address the curly community through and put a stop to all the rumor mongering and Deva bashing. A few hours of your time and some genuine transparency in lieu of the cutesy curl banter would go a long way toward winning back some customers and gaining new ones. It's a goodwill gesture that's long overdue, in my opinion.

Best regards,
(aka Sage Vivant)


Susan said...

Well said, Jill, well said. All of this Deva controversy could be fixed so easily with one short article by Deva on yet it appears they would rather not. And while I appreciate the time that was taken to send you an email - the timing is very interesting.

Sandra said...

You, lady, are one heck of a writer! I really look forward reading Lorraine's comment to it.

DEL said...

BRAVO! Well said! Let's hope you get a response....

gracefulvintage said...


Ditto the above comments but since
it hasn't been posted yet....
LOVE your 'Lucy' image choice!

Gib said...

Excellent writing as always, Jill! I'm anxiously waiting and hoping you'll get a response from Lorraine very soon.

Alice said...

personally, I don't like the fact she used "4warded" it strikes me as incredibly unprofessional along with the grammar issues (lower case i's?! What?!)

PERSONALLY, I'm tired of dealing with Deva. Especially when, like you said, this could have been handled SO MUCH better than they actually are handling it.

Sage Vivant said...

First, thank you all for the kind words about this blog. Hugs to you for making this writer feel good!

Re: Lorraine. I got another email from her yesterday in which she is still chipper and light-hearted, yet clearly a little irritated by my questions. She thinks some perspective is needed because, after all, "this is not like illness or the recession or something, thank God." She wants to talk with me by phone and although I'm looking forward to it, I'm also dreading it because ... what if she really is as dismissive of things as we already perceive her to be? Wouldn't it be amazing to discover that we care more about the accuracy of her product labeling than she does? How will I post about that? It will be hard for me, I don't mind telling you.

But we'll see. I await her phone call.

Oh, and a note to Alice: she says she types with one finger, so maybe that explains the lack of capitalization and the typos. :)

azalea905 said...

would it be possible to post Lorraine's second email as well especially since Deva is being everything but transparant?

I can't believe Lorraine would take an irritated tone considering there is so much confusion (at the VERY least; and bold faced lies at the worst) going on regarding which ingredients are in which bottle. This reeks of terrible terrible customer service. Even bigger "anti-curly" companies have better customer service than that!

I wish you luck in your phone call with her. I think she will give you the run around. And I think you should ask her to put into writing anything that she has to say.

azalea905 said...

Also, I find it highly highly offensive that she would say: "this is not like illness or the recession or something, thank God."

- It might mean illness for some people who are going to suffer allergic reactions because of the mislabeling of ingredients.
- Deva products are expensive and some curlies may be saving pennies in the current economic climate to re/purchase deva products, and they may be expecting one set of ingredients and getting another set(that may not work in their hair)

Sage: I'm so glad you're exposing Deva for what they are :)

Sage Vivant said...

Well, I feel it might be premature to post her second email quite yet -- I would like to wait until after we speak by phone. I don't want her to feel like every communication we have is under a microscope. She wrote me from some show she's doing in Phoenix and so was probably busy. None of us is at our best when we're busy so I want to give her every opportunity to redeem herself. I promise, though, that after she phones me, I will report on it here.

Susan said...

I will be completely blunt. I don't think they changed their ingredients a year ago. I think it is highly unlikely that you can get 'permission' from the FDA to not change your labels. And, how am I to believe their new labels if that is the case? And if you can do that - how am I to believe any label anymore??

Sage Vivant said...

Susan, I quite agree with you. I don't think the formula changed, either.

Alice said...

the one finger thing makes sense I guess.

I agree with azalea905's point "Deva products are expensive and some curlies may be saving pennies in the current economic climate to re/purchase deva products, and they may be expecting one set of ingredients and getting another set(that may not work in their hair)."

I know I personally have to DROP deva because of the economic eliminate. I just can't afford to spend that much on hair stuff any more :(

Pretty Somnambulist said...

Jill, I love your thoroughness and straightforward, no-nonsense writing! Have you ever considered starting your own curly hair product line? At least I'd feel like I was in good (i.e., honest and knowledgeable) hands if you were at the helm of my fave hair product company. Not that I'm a fan of Deva--I've never tried their products and am certainly put off by this hullabaloo and disingenuousness.

Sage Vivant said...

Thank you, Pretty Somnambulist! What a nice vote of confidence. Unfortunately, though, I don't know a thing about starting my own product line. Maybe in my next life -- and after I perfect my own hair!

kathymack said...

jillipoo, love the blog! Have to applaud your tenacity with this issue. All anyone is asking for is respect. Right now, Deva doesn't appear to respect it's clientele.

kathymack said...

Jillipoo, what a wonderful blog. Love the straight forward comments and tenacity!

jgartadv said...

Jill, has Lorraine tried calling you, or contacting you since her last email?