The complaint for this class action alleges that Just for Men hair dye contains a substance called p-phenylenediamine, or PPD. According to the complaint, not only can PPD irritate skin, it can take the pigment out of it, and the patch test the product orders consumers to take before each use can increase chances of an allergic reaction.
The class for this action is all resident of the US who bought a Just For Men hair dye product for personal use and experienced an allergic or irritant reaction within ninety-six hours of use.
Just For Men dye, made by Combe Incorporated, is marketed as color not just for the hair on the scalp but also for mustaches, beards, and sideburns.
The complaint quotes the National Poison Center as saying, “Up to 25 different ingredients in hair dyes can cause harmful skin effects. One of the main culprits is the primary intermediate PPD. Contact with skin can cause irritation including sores, itching, and burning. Occasionally allergic reactions occur and involve swelling of the face and neck that causes difficulty breathing.”
The complaint takes pains to distinguish between irritations and allergic reactions. Irritations occur when a product damages the skin’s outer layer. Allergic reactions, on the other hand, occur when a substance triggers an immune reaction in the skin. People can become sensitized to a product they were not previously allergic to. Stronger substances may cause immediate sensitization; weaker substances may require many exposures to trigger an allergy.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Once you develop an allergy to a substance, even a small amount can cause a reaction.” Allergic reactions to hair dyes can be mild or severe enough to be life-threatening.
Just For Men dye products tell users to make a forty-eight-hour skin-patch test before each usage, to make sure they will not have an allergic reaction to it.
The complaint contrasts this skin-patch test with an FDA-approved skin-patch test, the T.R.U.E. Test, designed to test allergic reactions to thirty-six substances, including PPD. In this test, doses are pre-measured and two skin examinations are conducted by medical personnel, while the Just For Men dye test requires an uncertain amount applied to the skin, left open, and then subjected to one check of the skin by the user.
Also, exposures to allergens may trigger an allergy, even if the person was not previously allergic. The complaint claims that the requirement for testing thus actually raises the chance of an allergic reaction.
Photos of two of the plaintiffs show pronounced depigmentation of the skin in the area in which the dye was applied. The photo of the third plaintiff shows red, swollen, and possibly oozing sores on his face which required four days of hospitalization.
Among the causes of action, the complaint lists two counts of strict product liability and also negligence, negligent representation, and fraud.