'Just For Men' Hair Dye Users Report Allergic Reactions

Sometimes a little gray hair isn't the worst thing that can happen to you

Let’s face it, time really goes fast. One second you’re ten years old running around with the neighborhood kids, and the next thing you know you’re running to a local drug store to purchase hair dye.

For men who are going or have already gone completely gray, Just For Men has been a popular go-to for around 25 years, as its parent company Combe Incorporated introduced the hair coloring product in 1987.

In recent years Just For Men has received a pretty big advertising push from famous celebrities like ex-baseball star Keith Hernandez and basketball hall of famer Walt Frazier--and when you think of hair coloring for guys, Just For Men is arguably the first product many consider using.

But, as with other products and services, consumers aren't always happy with their first choice. Many consumers have posted on ConsumerAffairs about horrible symptoms like chemical burns on the skin, severe itching and painful blisters. 

Swelling & burning

 Take Sean of Brockton, Mass. who said that after trying Just For Men he had a severe reaction that caused facial swelling and painful burning.

“I applied the beard dye as detailed in the directions,” he wrote in our comments section.

“I had a burning sensation as well, and after rinsing it off, I thought I was fine. The next day, my face and neck had swollen up horribly. The following morning my skin had begun to weep as well, and I went to the ER. I was admitted immediately, as it looked horrible. They were concerned about my throat swelling shut. I am nearly 50 and do not have any allergies that I know of. Whatever is in this stuff is harsh. I needed steroids and Benadryl,” Sean detailed.

Of course one could have an allergic reaction to just about any product on the market, but the fact that a slew of our readers experienced the exact same reaction is telling, and some of them have used the product before with no problems until very recently.

Just For Men is made with a bunch of hard to pronounce ingredients like Erythorbic, Ethoxydiglycol, Trisodium, with several other additives, and some of our readers suggest there was a recent change in the product’s ingredients, because many have only received these harsh reactions recently.

“Recent chemical formula change—there must have been a change with the beard color chemical formula,” suggested J of Marietta, Ga. “I’ve been using it for over 10 years with no problems and in the past couple of weeks whenever I use it, there is a burning and itching. I’m going to switch to something less harsh,” he wrote.

 On the Just For Men website, it does suggest that users could have a bad reaction to the dye in the frequently asked questions section. It also says each person should do an “allergy patch test” to see if they’ll experience some of the negative outcomes that a portion of our readers have experienced. Here’s what the website reads:

“You must do this patch test on the inside bend of your elbow 48-hours ahead of each and every use in order to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction. With mild soap and water, wash an area about the size of a quarter on the inside bend of your elbow. [Then] pat dry.”

“Unscrew the caps from the Color Developer and the Color Base tubes. Mix small, equal parts of the Color Base and the Color Developer in the mixing tray with the plastic end of the brush. Tightly recap both tubes. Apply mixture with a cotton ball or swab to a test area the size of a quarter on the inside bend of your elbow. Allow to dry.”

“Examine the test area during the next 48-hours. If you get no reaction on the unwashed patch test site after 48-hours, go ahead with full application of Just For Men.” 

Just to get a little more detail on not only the patch test, but the ingredients of Just For Men, we phoned the company and spoke with a representative named Camille, and she immediately stressed the importance of the allergy test before using the hair dye.

After asking Camille if there has been a recent ingredient change in Just For Men, she said there hasn’t been a change in quite some time.

“There has not, not in about seven years,” she said. “What the readers or the bloggers are not saying is, even if they are long time users, it is definitely stressed and recommended highly that they always do a 48-hour allergy patch test, due to the fact that body chemistry can change at any one given time. Many of them ignore it and don’t do it.”

Camille also said she would have an official company spokesperson contact ConsumerAffairs, and we’re still waiting for that response.

Medical advice

The instructions on the site also say if one does have a negative reaction to Just For Men, they should immediately washout the dye with shampoo and discontinue using it. The company also says to get medical advice before using its product or any other dyes.

What’s interesting about the product warning is that the company pretty much anticipates the same negative symptoms many of our readers experienced, which shows Just For Men is aware of the potential harms.

“Rapidly spreading skin rash, dizziness, faintness, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, tightness of chest, hives or swelling to eyes/face, blistering of skin or scalp weeping, seek immediate medical attention,” the warning reads.

For those who experience a bad reaction to the dye, consumers should mail in the entire bottom flap of the box that contains the UPC code. They should then list their name, address and the price paid for the product to: Combe Incorporated, International Haircolor Specialist, 1101 Westchester Avenue, White Plains, NY 10604.

However sending the product back and getting a refund probably won’t satisfy those who have suffered a lot of pain and discomfort like our reader Sean, who had to go the emergency room. Furthermore, if there is such a strong risk that people can be truly harmed by this product, is it even worth using it?

And even with the patch test, do you really want to expose any portion of your body just to see if the dye is usable?

Hey, sometimes looking good is associated with a small amount of discomfort, ask any female who had to endure uncomfortable shoes to complete an ensemble or a guy who has been choked by a necktie just to fit into the corporate way of dress--but looking a little more youthful shouldn’t risk your very well-being, right?

It’s apparent that men should think long and hard about using such dyes, and should maybe even speak to their doctors before using Just For Men or other products like it. Another thing men can do as they are greying is just embrace looking older if possible.

But for those who would rather postpone it than embrace it, the research you do before using Just For Men is a huge and crucial part of the dyeing process. Consumers should really be on guard.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.
Consumer Affairs

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