L'Oréal is sued over 'dangerous' hair dyes

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The Independent Online

The world's largest cosmetics firm, L'Oréal, is being sued over claims that one woman was killed and more than a dozen women suffered severe burns after using its hair dyes.

The world's largest cosmetics firm, L'Oréal, is being sued over claims that one woman was killed and more than a dozen women suffered severe burns after using its hair dyes.

Lawyers claim that safety warnings for some of L'Oréal's best-known permanent hair dyes - such as the Feria range promoted by the singer Beyoncé - are inaccurate and downplay the potentially lethal risk of using them.

In one case, the firm is being sued for £750,000 by the family of Navinder Devi, from Birmingham, who died in 2000 after using Movida, a hair colourant made by its subsidiary Laboratoires Garnier.

She suffered from anaphylactic shock: her throat and face swelled, and her airway was blocked. At her inquest, L'Oréalagreed that the dye was the most likely cause of her death. It offered her husband, Kapil Rajja, a pharmacist, £200,000 in an out-of-court settlement but would not admit its dye was to blame.

Lawyers in Britain and Denmark are preparing group actions against L'Oréal and other firms for allegedly failing to protect customers frominjury. The Danish Consumer Council has received more than 100 complaints since 2000, and is preparing eight cases. It has accused the industry of using out-of-court settlements to avoid being forced to drop its most dangerous chemicals.

The company said it had "total confidence" that its products were safe, and insisted that its recommended skin tests were "100 per cent" accurate if properly used. "It is widely acknowledged that a very small number of people can experience reactions to hair colourants ... Severe reactions ... are extremely rare."