My History With Deva

Written March 2020, 1 week before COVID Shutdown

I have to address the Deva scandal because shampoo and curls is a topic that needs serious attention. There is scandal brewing unlike anything I’ve seen from a professional hair brand. Largely due to overselling of a  “philosophy” first sold professionally to reach the public which has caused a litany of issues that all boil down to Deva negligent (IMO) ignoring hair loss and damage. 

 Deva is not a professional brand IMO.

I’ve always had mixed emotions about DevaCurl. I was never “in love” with the brand, or the products. Mainly I disliked how they were directly marketing our hair salon clients, yet calling themselves a “pro” line. I especially didn’t like that. If I choose to carry a line, I must first love it, so the Deva scandal is not a huge surprise. When a brand sends a mixed message to appease 2 different markets, it’s a red flag, and Deva has done that since day 1.  

 But I also don’t have curly hair and for years I’ve heard my curly clients’ hair struggles, so when Deva came along I became certified to help them. 

Deval Scandal Red Flags

Back in 2014 I paid $500 to become Deva curl care & cut certified, to me that was expensive because even then, there wasn’t much I had not already mastered in cutting. After a 2 day class, I took what I heard back to the salon and applied it with caution because there were 2 things I didn’t like from the start. 

Red Flag # 1 of the Deva Scandal


Shampoo is “bad”.



Deva Scandal Foreshadowing

Let me explain that I was fortunate to start my career with a strong cutting foundation and have come to appreciate how rare that is, but at the time I was excited because Deva cuts were something new. After all, they called it “their technique.” I was disappointed to see them teaching the same curl techniques I had learned way back in the 90’s from my salon mentor. Buzz kill. As usual, more of the same since social media made a phenomenon of industry people “inventing” a new technique, when really it’s a core skill that’s been around forever. A skill they simply tweaked at best. 

Secondly, I didn’t agree with how they approached the simple act of doing a shampoo, or hair “cleansing”. They acted like shampoo was bad for curly hair because they didn’t agree with using products (or ingredients) historically proven to clean all hair.

The weird “no” shampoo thing.

Educators gave a vibe like shampooing in general was bad, especially for curls. I’m a big organic and holistic approach kind of gal, so I get their reasoning behind this. Butt he verbiage seemed like a slippery slope for confusion to come.

But at that moment in 2014, to my own confusion, I looked around the room and stylists were amazed, like omg shampoo is evil!  I’m thinking dear heavens. What is going on here. DevaCurl did not just split the atom, and helloooo? Cleaning hair is good so why are stylists nodding along like it isn’t!!?? 

Unable to withstand the conflicting information and cult like vibes, I asked aloud  “ sorry but I have to  state the obvious. How does Deva, as a brand, advise removing buildup? I mean buildup from water and products occur in hair easily regardless. This is especially true in the naturally open cuticle of curly hair, so what does Deva offer for that?” The educator nodded (who had a luscious head of beautiful curls btw) and said to tell guests to clarify hair “as needed”. 

 As needed? Well that’s vague.

Curls revived

 Deva Curl was vague on “care”.

I will say my clients who first started using Deva had more moisturized hair, but soon I could see they had build up. The image above is a client I’ve had for many years and this was her first visit when we used Deva Curl products in 2014 combined with a low 45/over directed cut I gave her. This cut is one I learned in the 90’s and it was later called the tear drop shape by Deva. 

Cuts & Care are two different things entirely. 

Clarifying is deep cleaning the hair and is spoken of carefully in most color salons. When it is, it outlines specific products and detailed instructions, and there was nothing detailed about that answer. Clarifying can shift color so we don’t advise deep cleaning shampoos as a daily shampoo. Besides, a gentle lathering shampoo should remove build up on average air. Curly haired people often have above average thickness, the Deva Curl scandal was of their own making by not teaching a clarifying shampooing is necessary. Period. And in 2014 Deva didn’t have a clarifying shampoo. 

They sort of launch a clarifying option.

Build up buster was introduced in 2017 so I must have not been the only stylist to ask this. But the launch of that product was weak. We were Deva certified and received no information from Deva on that product for months. The product itself to remove build up suggested the top selling “No Poo” which is play on “no shampoo”, and other products in the line, caused build up. Thus blowing apart the “no shampoo” philosophy, and why I feel a Deva curl scandal was imminent. 

For a brand with an involved multi step process for curls, their education was evasive at best. Again this was 2014 so just as I was about to ask why they didn’t have a clarifying shampoo, the educator had moved on to the cute names of different curl patterns like “swavy and botticelli”.

Red Flag # 2 of the Deva Scandal

Level 1 certification:

regurgitated cut techniques.


The Deva Curl Explosion

Another thing I was never comfortable with was how Deva Curl sold product knowledge ( with a very basic cut demo) to stylists as “curl certification”, to be listed on their website as “curl certified” as a brand “approved” salon. Ironic since I didn’t approve their philosophy. More baffling is how any licensed stylist can TO THIS DAY buy the products at the professional beauty store. So what is certification for again?? Plus Deva was also directly to the public from the Deva site. 

Capitalizing on the stylists who helped make their brand big through expensive certification annoyed me VERY MUCH. Salon professional product brands offer free product knowledge classes is the standard in our industry because the benefit is us putting it on our clients hair so we carry it. No salons pay for product knowledge classes so double dipping for profit is basically what their certification was.

When bottom line rules, the bottom will drop eventually.

Free product knowledge is just good business since our customers buy their products, and stylists don’t need “certification” to offer hair care advice. That’s literally our job. But Deva was the first to focus on ONE salon client, those with curl or texture. That was new to our industry and people were tired of straightening or getting relaxers. Embracing natural curl care was a new emerging market and people lost their mind over it. 

Why many stylists say NO to Deva. 

Looking back, not only was Deva double dipping for profit by charging stylists through “certification” (in my opinion)  to do their marketing for them, which to me is just exploiting salon professionals who are licensed to do hair, and the salon owners who paid for staff to be certified like I did, is straight up exploitation. As a Certified level 2 stylist, I think that says alot of how little I respect their  product or brand. 

Some could call it profiteering off professionals.

Free product knowledge is just good business from pro product brands since our customers buy their products, and stylists don’t need “certification” to offer hair care advice. That’s literally our job. But Deva was the first line to focus on ONE salon client, those with curl or texture. That was new to our industry and people were tired of straightening or getting relaxers. Embracing natural curl care was a new emerging market and people lost their mind over it. 

Certification: glorified PK

 According to Deva, 90% of people have some wave or curl, so charging for product knowledge to professionals when the brand was growing, for products they’d soon publicly sell off their site meant part of their business plan was using stylists to get on top of a new market!  And I was right, they targeted salons first, which was genius marketing, and that can still be seen today with how curl wearers remain devoted to the brand.

Deva Gets Sold

If you wanted to be in the curl salon scene, you had to jump through Deva’s hoops because they had already cornered the market.  With little enthusiasm, I paid for each of my staff to become curl certified. As an owner I knew if a stylist left, they took that certification I paid for with them, but I can’t be everything education wise to my staff. The conditioning and styling portions of Deva worked well, so I did it. 

No non paid classes offered.

Even if you were certified which is unreal. In 2017 the brand sold for $300 million, and I feel that’s when things really went downhill. They seemed more product driven, versus the original “curl care” focus they touted.  Deva pumped out new products like crazy. Too many! It was already hard to stay on top of what we had so I kept what we carried limited to what we knew. Continuing product education was supposed to be included in the certification costs. I’ve tried getting an updated Deva product class for years. Unless I wanted to pay to get more stylists certified, they’d not do any new product knowledge class with my existing Deva stylists.

Deva Kept Charging Salons

 We carried their line while  they were selling directly to the public with little home care advice, plus selling to non certified stylists in the supply stores. If we train our new stylists free on everything we offer, shouldn’t a multimillion dollar company I already paid 3k to do the same? 

By 2018 I was over Deva. 

Deva Swells Before Scandal Breaks

By this time the brand had grown to have a massive following, but education is key in our industry. Without it, error and failure occur. Education didn’t seem important to them any longer. It’s important to me, so we were already phasing out Deva before this 2020 class action lawsuit “scandal” broke.  It was a lesson to follow my gut instinct if a brand’s core philosophy is not in line with ours. Though people may have found us by searching for Deva Curl online, I was responsible for Studio 39, not Deva.


Build Up Concerns Build

They came out with a product called build up buster a few years ago when the first concerns arose. They did not offer much info on yet another product in an already layered system. One more thing a Deva user has to buy, but like Deva said, they wrote the book on curl. I do think Deva founder, Lorraine Masse  was passionate about curl solutions. But her and her original partner split so Deva curl has always had scandal, and without brand support, all we could do was advise Deva users.

So we did. We suggested Build up Buster or a similar product, and get deep cleansing treatments in the salon, and SHAMPOO your hair. Do whatever it takes to avoid build up. We advise this to everyone regardless of texture. To my knowledge none of our clients have experienced hair loss, but that’s what the 2020 scandal is about. Hair loss due to buildup induced follicle suffocation. 

No More Deva Here

We’ve always advised Deva seekers to use an alternative shampoo, or the Deva Low Poo lathering cleanser over the cream No Poo cleanser. If they used No Poo, we recommended Enjou clarifying spray,a and here we were, advising people to still shampoo. 

It’s sad really, it could have been avoided with some common sense. Always take advice from your stylist over a brand. We are invested in you and your hair because we know you. You pay us for professional care! Brands sell their culture so you are loyal, but shampooing is as important to hygiene and health as washing your face or brushing your teeth. 

Deva’s Statement On Hair Loss

To be fair, I called Deva to see what they’re advising salon owners. They had nothing to offer, just a product return line as “support” and it’s a multi step process just to get return “approval”. The whole thing is a mess. Since we already started phasing out Deva before this whole scandal, unfortunately we cannot accept returns on a line we don’t carry. Especially since we’re spending more to bring in new curl lines. Deva left everyone in the lurch, and their stance online is denial. 

In their defense, they say there are no issues with the products themselves, overall I agree with that. The products are clean and high quality, they are just too laden with shea butter and coconut which accumulate on the hair. This combined with their no shampoo approach is why hair loss is happening in those that experienced it.

Never buy a philosophy.

They weren’t vigilant in educating that shampooing is necessary to clean the hair, so they can’t admit anything is “wrong” because it blows apart their whole no shampoo concept. It’s caused a curl pandemic, and curly hair lines are in a tailspin because the Curl kingpin is sinking fast. Salons are dropping Deva and it’s been a lesson to me to follow my gut instinct about making sure a brands ENTIRE philosophy is in line with ours.

You can read their statement here on their site. 

On the bright side, unlike Deva, I fully embrace our new curl options. We have brought in Surface and Loreal Professional Curl Expressions. You can read about Surface Curl in the next post, with tips to get off No Poo.


Read the next post about Curl Cuts and products.