The British Medical Journal released a paper during February 2007 warning that allergic reactions to hair dye are increasing in the UK as more people reach for the bottle and colour their hair. This is not only putting consumers at risk from sustaining personal injury such as dermatitis but also leaving the industry at risk of having claims made against them.
According to market research, more people are dying their hair than ever, the majority of which are at a younger age. A survey carried out during 2001 found that 41% of female secondary school students, 85% of women in their 20s, and 33% of men in their 20s reported using hair colourants.
Worryingly, over two thirds of hair dyes on the UK market contain known irritant para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which has already been banned from use in Germany, France and Sweden. The reason this chemical, which has caused allergic reactions for many consumers throughout Europe, has not yet been banned in the UK seems to be that no widely accepted alternative is available for use in permanent hair dye.
There have been many compensation claims reported in the media following cases of dermatitis to the face and head and severe cases of facial swelling resulting from using hair dying products. There have also been cases of children having serious reactions to hair dye reported.
23 year old Claire Jones decided to dye her hair with a bottle of Clairol Nice 'n' Easy hair colourant and claims that although she carried out a skin sensitivity test 48 hours prior to applying the product, two days after use her head started itching, burning, weeping and became extremely swollen.
After being admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary she was diagnosed with severe allergic contact dermatitis. Claire made a claim against Proctor and Gamble and, although the company would not accept liability for Claire's personal injury, they agreed to offer her an out-of-court settlement of £4,300.
She has been left unable to use chemical hair dye again and added, "I believe the sale of hair dye should be banned for under 18s. Also people should be advised to carry out two sensitivity tests before using it."
Personal injury solicitor, Victoria Johnson, who represented Claire commented, "The number of allergic reactions to hair dye has doubled in the last six years.
"The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association has been forced to issue safety advice to consumers about applying hair dye. All of this points to the fact there is a very serious problem in the industry."
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