Product liability: Hair dye products

A paper released by the British Medical Journal in February 2007 warned of a substantial increase in allergic reactions to hair dyes in the UK. Apparently, the vast majority of these cases are caused by PPD (para-phenylenediamine), a known irritant already banned in France, Sweden and Germany. Frighteningly, more than a third of all permanent UK hair dyes still contain this dangerous chemical. It seems use of this substance in dyes has not been banned in the UK as yet, because there does not appear to be an accepted alternative.

Hair dye and product liability

Hair dye packages and instructions do warn users of the potential risk of allergies and recommend performing a patch, or skin test prior (48 hours) to using these products. Doing the test with just a small amount of the product is, however, not a guarantee that you will not be injured by hair dye when using the full, directed amount needed to successfully colour your hair. This became painfully obvious to one consumer, who was fine after the test, but suffered severe contact dermatitis after properly using the product.

The real risks of injury by hair dye

Quoting a paper published in 2007 may seem to be a little out of date. Considering fairly recent headline cases, however, it becomes clear that PPD in hair dyes is still as much of a problem today as it was almost seven years ago. Such cases show that hair dyes containing PPD can not only cause contact dermatitis and other severe allergic skin reactions, but may ultimately lead to death.

Tabatha McCourt and Julie McCabe

In October 2011, two women suffered severe reactions after using hair dyes. In both cases, PPD was suspected to be the responsible agent triggering the reactions. Tabatha McCourt, a 17 year old, died shortly after using the dye. Julie McCabe, a 38 year old mother who had suffered brain damage and heart failure after collapsing with breathing difficulties shortly after colouring her hair, sadly died in November 2012, after spending almost 13 months in a coma.

Product liability claims

If you have suffered a severe allergic reaction to hair dye in spite of performing the necessary patch test, you may qualify for personal injury compensation. Call Accident Advice Helpline to discuss your situation in confidence and without obligation to make a claim. The freephone helpline is open 24/ 7 on 0800 689 0500, and legal assistance throughout the process of claiming for compensation is provided on a no win, no fee* basis.

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