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If Woman Dies From Hair Dye How Will Hair Color Industry Respond?

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If Woman Dies From Hair Dye How Will Hair Color Industry Respond?

The media is abuzz with the BBC news that a British woman is in a coma after allegedly collapsing after dying her hair with L'Oreal Preference Hair Dye.   Physicians believe the woman is experiencing a severe allergic reaction to a chemical in the dye.

The hair dye chemical in question is phenylenediamine (PPD).  This chemical has been for a long time to be the potential cause of allergic reactions to hair dyes and related beauty products.

Why A Patch Test Is Important Before Every Hair Color Treatment

In fact, one of the reasons experts strongly recommend that consumers do a patch test every single time before applying hair color is to prevent a horrific allergic reaction.

It's also a well-known fact that people using hair dyes for years without any reaction by suddenly have an unexpected reaction.


Apparently this is the case of Julie McCabe, a 38-year-old mother of two who reportedly dyed her hair every six weeks for the last several years without a problem.

The BBC reported that McCabe was rinsing the dye out of her hair after leaving it in for the recommended time when she began having difficulty breathing and collapsed.

After she was rushed to the hospital, McCabe could not be revived.  As a result of her brain being without oxygen for an extended period of time, she has not been able to regain consciousness.  Doctors have reported that she has a slim chance of ever recovering.

Big Wake-up Call For Hair Color Manufacturers And Consumers

McCabe's doctors also believe that the 38 year old had an allergic reaction to PPD.   Unfortunately evidence linking PPD, which is found in all permanent hair dyes to any type of allergic reaction - from slight to life threatening, is sparse.  Although research has been done on the dangers of PPD, there is no conclusive proof that there is an absolute link brtween PPD and McCabes fight for her life.

While there may not be conclusive scientific evidence linking PPD to McCabe's medical condition, there have been many causes over the years of consumer reactions to hair color.  In many causes an allergic reaction may first present as swollen eyes, face or head.  Sometimes it will present as burning and/or itching on the scalp or blistering.

A Prior Allergic Reaction?

Although it's impossible to know exactly what happened, maybe McCabe had a slight allergic reaction prior to the current reaction and was not aware of what she was experiencing.  Or maybe just the build-up of PPD in her system caused a violent reaction.

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Ultimately this story will hopefully be a major wake-up call for manufacturers who have been using PPD in their formulas, hair colorists who don't do an appropriate color patch test and consumers who don't take the possibility of an allergic reaction as seriously as they should.

Government Intervention?

One other possible outcome of this very sad and shocking hair color reaction is the possibility that governments might get involved and invoke sanctions against any products which can potentially harm or kill consumers.

Some might argue that whenever a consumer deems to employ any hair or beauty related home products that they assume a certain level of risk to their health and well being.  This is a good point, but it also can prove to be unnecessarily dangerous.

Legal Options?

Regardless of the positive proof, McCabe's family thinks that years of using hair dye caused the chemical to build up in her system.  The family has told the media they may be bringing legal action against L'Oreal.  L'Oreal is reportedly "very concerned" about the incident and allegedly has offered to provide samples of their product for testing.

But is L'Oreal liable?  I guess it depends upon whether they provided enough warnings on their packaging.

What do you think?  Should L'Oreal be held legally liable?  If they are, will this cause a major shift in how hair dyes are manufactured, distributed, sold or packaged?

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