Cosmetics consumer and safety alert

Local 10 News viewer buys hair dye that caused hair to fall out

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - Skipping the salon for do-it-yourself hair dye is one way to save money, but can lead to serious health issues.

When a Local 10 News viewer had a severe reaction to a product she bought online she "Called Christina" for help. Local 10 News investigative reporter Christina Vazquez uncovered hair dye is a buyer beware consumer product and uncovered that cosmetics don't need U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval before going to market. In fact, there is no requirement to test the safety of individual products or ingredients.

"It's a new trend I wanted to try.  You know not the average blonde," Pamela Crapser, of Hollywood, said.

After all, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Kylie Jenner all got into the new "granny hair" trend of turning their hair silver. Pamela wanted to transform her locks too.

"I always kind of like the futuristic kind of Sci-Fi look. I just loved it," she said.

Crapser ordered a $4.90 bottle of A-21 Light Grey Berina hair color cream from Amazon.com, noting it was a price she could afford.

Crapser said she felt pain on her scalp shortly after applying it. 

"It felt like it was melting, like I literally fried my hair," she said. 

Crapser said her hair started falling off within the first wash.

"It felt like I had blisters," she said.

Slowly her hair is growing back, but Crapser said her scalp is still very sensitive and flaky. 

The Call Christina team bought a bottle of what Crapser ordered. It arrived to the Local 10 newsroom from Thailand.

There is no English translation of the text located on the box or bottle except for an ingredient list.

Local 10 News brought the product to Dermatologist Dr. Andrea Trowers for a closer look.

"I think there are probably instructions here where it's numbered, but they are in another language," Trowers said. 

Also catching Trowers' attention were the ingredients. 

"Fragrance, there's also the 2,4-Diaminophenoxyethanol," she said.

Trowers said these are common allergens. 

"Just like a friend can turn on you.  You could be exposed to something for years on end and then one day develop an allergy to it," she said.

Unlike medical devices, most cosmetic products and ingredients don't need FDA approval before going to market.  This includes perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polish and makeup. The FDA's ability to take action against hair dyes associated with safety concerns is limited by law. The FDA looks for proper labeling, such as a caution statement with adequate directions for a skin test. 

While directions for using A-21 Berina Hair Dye were published in English on Amazon.com, where Crasper bought the product, there was no translation on the bottle or box. The FDA said hair-dye related allergic reactions can include eye injuries, skin irritation and hair loss.

Below are the federal language regulations that pertain to cosmetic labeling:

Language

  • English language statements
  • Foreign language statements

English Language Statements: All label or labeling statements required by law or regulation must be in the English language. Products distributed solely in Puerto Rico or a Territory where the predominant language is one other than English, may state the required label information in the predominant language in place of English.

Foreign Language Statements: If the label contains any foreign language representation, all statements required by regulation must also appear on the label in the foreign language. If labeling bears foreign language representations, the required statements must appear on the label or other labeling as required in English.

If you have a severe reaction to a cosmetic first seek immediate medical attention and then report it to the FDA.

The law does not require cosmetic companies, including hair dye manufacturers, to report problems, share their safety data, or their consumer complaint to the FDA, which is why reporting a problem is so important.

Hearing from you helps them monitor safety issues.

Adverse Event Reporting: How to Report a Cosmetic-Related Problem to FDA

If you think the FDA should have more authority over the safety regulation of the cosmetic industry, it would literally take an Act of Congress.

RELATED LINKS:

FDA Authority Over Cosmetics

H.R. 1385 (113th): Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013

This bill was introduced on March 21, 2013, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted.

The company who sold Crapser the hair dye did refund her money and told her via e-mail that the reaction to the product was unique.  The company did not respond to a request from Local 10 News for a statement.

Amazon emailed Local 10 News a statement saying, "We do not have a comment for the story."

"I want to be able to show other women who are watching right now before they purchase a hair dye to research, research, research, research," Crapser said.

"I would definitely say that's buyer beware," Trowers said. "If you can't read the language that the instructions are in, it's probably an indication you shouldn't use that product."

FDA reminds you to get the facts before using hair dyes and hair relaxers.

HELPFUL LINKS:

Hair Dyes and Relaxers: Safety Tips

Tintes para el pelo y cremas alisadoras

FDA and Hair Dyes: Consumer tips and warnings

FDA and Cosmetics:  Consumer tips and warnings

Prohibited & Restricted Ingredients

Color Additives Permitted for Use in Cosmetics

Regulations Related to Cosmetics

Follow Christina Vazquez on Twitter @CallChristinaTV

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10

Copyright 2015 by Local10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.