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PPD: The Killer in Hair Dye

A recent catastrophic injury case reported in UK national news highlighted the risks of using hair dye. 

The Coroner concluded that Julie McCabe, aged 38, died as a consequence of suffering an anaphylactic reaction triggered by Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) present in L’Oreal hair dye.

Sadly, Julie was not the first to die following the application of hair dye, and alarmingly, I anticipate that she will not be the last.

Significant work needs to be done to educate the general public about the serious risks associated with the application of hair dye. My views are that hair dye manufacturers must take greater responsibility to ensure that consumers are making an informed choice about the severity of the risks associated with hair dye products.

An estimated 14% of hair dye users suffer an adverse reaction. Dermatologists advised that seeing adverse reactions to using hair dye is now a daily occurrence in A&E departments across the UK. The introduction of mandatory reporting by hospitals of hair dye reactions to manufacturers would help provide a more accurate assessment of the true extent of the problem.

The chemical that is causing the reaction is Paraphenylenediamine or PPD, a chemical widely used as a permanent hair dye. The alternative dyeing methods are more time consuming and expensive. PPD is also found in dark coloured cosmetics, ink, black oils, textile dyes and temporary tattoos. Black Henna tattoos involve apply a solution containing up to 62% PPD directly onto the skin. By comparison, PPD in hair dye accounts for 2% of the formula.

Whilst warnings of a severe reaction in rare cases are given on packaging, it does not warn that such risks could result in death or Catastrophic Injury. Nor do they go far enough to warn of the enhanced risks if the consumer has had previous reactions to hair dye or had a temporary henna tattoo. If Black Henna tattoos are a significant risk factor then there is a duty to raise awareness of the dangers associated with having had a black henna tattoo.

Julie McCabe’s family are devastated by her loss. They hope that the manufacturers will increase awareness of the risks. By taking proactive steps to improve reporting incidents to them and setting out clear warnings that catastrophic injury is a risk associated with the application of hair dye, in particular where there have been previous reactions or where the consumer has had a black henna tattoo. Furthermore, they hope that manufacturers will invest in the research to source safer alternative products for the market.

Carol Hopwood is a Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

If you or a family member have had an adverse reaction to a hair dye or any other product, call the Personal Injury Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will assess your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Immediate legal representation and rehabilitation support are available anywhere in the UK.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading personal injury law firm with more than 1,450 staff and 18 offices in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Cambridge, Merseyside, Halifax, Sheffield, Newcastle, Wakefield, Derby and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.



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