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Utah woman suffers severe allergic reaction from hair dye product

Posted at 1:43 PM, Dec 11, 2019

MAGNA, Utah — A Utah woman has been suffering from an allergic reaction since late last week after applying a hair dye product she purchased at a store.

Amanda Ortega bought "Revlon Colorsilk" at Smith's Food and Drug in Magna on Thursday and applied the product later that same day.

"Figured if I chose a cheaper brand it would be easier to cover more hair," said Ortega, who says she previously had purchased products from other beauty supply stores. "Saturday morning, I woke up and my face kind of just pulled back... I just told my mom, 'I look kind of weird, like I feel my face looks different.'"

Her symptoms include an itching and burning scalp, oozing scabs on her head and neck, swollen eyes and chest pain.

"My eyes had been fully shut yesterday (Monday) after I took a nap, and then we went straight back to the ER because it's just been getting worse," Ortega said. "It's overwhelming and painful and I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

Ortega believes the product may have been expired but still left on store shelves.

“We have been in contact with the customer and a claim has been filed," said Smith's Corporate Affairs Manager Aubriana Martindale in a statement obtained by KSTU. "We take these matters seriously and we will continue to investigate the unfortunate occurrence.”

Regardless, a majority of cosmetics and hair products contain warnings pertaining to allergies and side effects.

“Hair dyes are among the most extensively researched cosmetic products and all hair dyes used by Revlon have been extensively studied and determined to be safe and effective for consumer use," said Revlon responding to KSTU for comment on the incident. "Hair dyes, however, have long been known to contain ingredients that, while safe, can cause allergic reactions in a small number of individuals.”

The Food and Drug Administration says there are no U.S. laws or regulations that require cosmetics to have specific shelf lives or have expiration dates on their labels. However, the FDA says manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are safe.

Hairstylists and industry professionals recommend not purchasing hair products and cosmetics from stores other than beauty supply stores, citing contamination and potentially harmful products.

"The risks are endless," said Michelle Burton, an educator at Taylor Andrews Academy in West Jordan. "Most stylists will guarantee their work because it's done in the correct manner, whereas you go to the grocery store or Walgreens or something like that and purchase a color in a box off the shelf, there is no guarantee what you're going to get."

Burton also mentioned that products can be sold by an original manufacturer to other companies, resulting in other products to be added to an original formula. Burton says that companies do this in order to allow products to last longer on shelves, but it's the modifications made that typically cause allergic reactions.

"It may not happen to everybody, but everybody's skin is different," said Ortega about the reaction. "The chemicals could be burning my body, that might be why my chest is hurting so bad."

Revlon, like other companies in the hair, skin and makeup industry, recommends testing for potential allergic reactions before using products.

"Instructions are provided on each box instructing consumers how to conduct a pre-test to detect any possible allergies before use," said Revlon in a statement to KSTU. "We strongly encourage all consumers to follow these allergy test instructions prior to using our products.”

This story was originally published by Brian Schnee at KSTU.