A 34-year-old woman from Liverpool who suffered severe swelling to the face and hair loss after using a hair dye product made by cosmetic giant Henkel, is taking the company to court in the first case of its kind in the UK.
Henkel, which owns well known brands such as Schwarskopf, is sending over a director to St. Helen's County Court today (16 August) to defend the company against the claimant who is represented by Greg Almond of Almond Solicitors.
Almond says that the case has come about because the cosmetic industry works within a loose regulatory framework which has allowed it to get away with putting chemicals in it products which can be harmful to users.
"My client did everything by the book. She tested the product first to check for a reaction before proceeding. If the patch test isn't working something is wrong,” said Almond.
“This is not an isolated incident. Many people have been injured because they have reacted badly to hair dye products. The companies making these dye products choose chemicals based on keeping their costs down – rather than the most safe ones available – in their products.
“This test case is putting the cosmetics industry in the dock, not just Henkel. My client has shown courage to take on the might of such a large industry. The outcome could help thousands more like her," he added.
Almonds Solicitors has called on expert evidence from Professor David M Lewis, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Colour Science within the School of Maths and Physical Sciences at the University of Leeds, which suggests that the product at the centre of the case is potentially defective. This is due to the inclusion of the chemical para-toluenediamine (PTD).
Additional expert opinion gathered for the case will be used to argue that patch tests cannot forecast a serious allergic reaction with 100% certainty.
"My client suffered severe swelling to the face and hair loss,” said Almond.
“This kind of injury should not happen at the hands of a product you can buy in any high street, despite following the safety instructions.
“We are calling for an urgent review of all hair dye products and immediate investigation as to whether they are safe. Just because a product is permitted for sale does not make it safe, a point exemplified by the tobacco industry."