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Consumers Sue Over Allergies and Skin Reactions to Just for Men Hair Dye Products

Feb 23, 2016

A group of consumers is seeking certification for a class action suit against the manufacturer of Just for Men hair dye. The consumers told a Missouri federal court last week that the manufacturer did not warn consumers about burns and severe allergies they could suffer from prolonged use of Just for Men dye products.

Just for Men labels tell consumers to do a spot test of the product on their skin before wider use, but the test directions are not clear and the potential side effects are not well disclosed, Law360 reports. In addition, side effects are not always evident from the spot test or even from first use of the product, but can develop after repeated use of Just for Men, according to the legal complaint.

According to the legal complaint, Combe, the manufacturer, “knew or should have known that Just For Men products create an unnecessary risk of burns, scarring, allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock, skin depigmentation, and other severe injuries.” The lawsuit says that in “omitting, concealing, and inadequately providing critical safety information regarding the use of Just For Men in order to induce its purchase and use, [Combe] engaged in and continues to engage in conduct likely to mislead consumers,” Law360 reports.

The ingredient at issue is p-Phenylenediamine, or PPD, a chemical widely used in hair dyes and recognized by global public health authorities as having significant potential for adverse reactions. More than five percent of the population will have one of these reactions, the complaint said.

The legal complaint says Combe recommends a skin patch test but the instructions do not explain the potential side effects of PPD. Potential users are asked to apply a small patch of the product to the arm to test for allergic reactions. But to achieve accurate results, the consumer cannot bathe, wear a long sleeve shirt, sweat or do anything else that might disturb the test area for 48 hours. The consumers say these are unreasonable conditions, according to the lawsuit: “The burden to comply with defendants’ version of an allergy test is too high and essentially unfeasible.” The consumers not that the risk of accidental contamination of the skin area “renders the ‘test’ useless.”

The consumers proposing the class action also argue that, given high rates of allergic reaction and the potential severity of those reactions, Combe should have looked into other methods of hair coloring and dyes. PPD has an even higher rate of allergic reaction in certain population groups, in particular African American men, but the company has not warned these groups of their greater risk, according to Law360.

“Just For Men products have an unacceptable and unreasonable rate of adverse reaction in the general population,” the lawsuit claims. “Further, the unacceptable and unreasonable rate of adverse reaction is even higher in certain population groups, such as African American men.”

The Just for Men users seek to certify the class of Missouri consumers who bought the product for their personal use. They bring the suit under Missouri’s medical monitoring law. The law allows for such lawsuits, even if the injury has not yet occurred, Law360 reports.

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