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African American Community Targeted in Marketing Ploy for Toxic Products

samantha severyn

COMBE, Inc., makers of ‘Just For Men’ hair dye, has been accused of targeting the African American community in a marketing ploy to buy toxic hair products.

Makers of J'ust For Men' launched a targeted marketing campaign headlined by legendary Black sports figures to induce African American males to purchase their products. They engaged in this racially motivated conduct despite knowing that:

  1. The Just For Men® Jet Black color shade intended for African American consumers contained seventeen times more p- Phenylenediamine (“PPD”) – a remarkable “strong sensitizer” with the potential to cause severe health risks – than lighter color shades intended for White consumers, and
  2. The sensitization rate to PPD is five times greater for African American males than White males.”

The argument, in turn, is that under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), Just For Men® hair and facial hair dye products are recognized as coal-tar hair dyes and because of this classification the products are exempt from FDA approval prior to consumer use, and the FDA is prohibited from taking legal action against the manufacturers for safety issues related to the products so long as the packaging includes a generic caution statement noting that the products “contain ingredients which may cause skin irritation” and a skin test recommendation.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has identified links between PPD and several acute and chronic injuries including but not limited to:

  • Severe dermatitis;
  • Renal failure;
  • Gastritis;
  • Acute contact dermatitis;
  • Eczematoid contact dermatitis;
  • Asthma;
  • Vertigo;
  • Tremors;
  • Convulsions; and
  • Comas.

Additionally, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) flagged PPD as one of only five substances requiring the cautionary designation of “strong sensitizer”. Further, because of increased exposure and hypersensitivity to PPD in the general population, the American Contact Dermatitis Society declared PPD the “Allergen of the Year” in 2006.

Makers of 'Just For Men' represented that their Jet Black color shade was safe and cosmetically effective while the warning label inadequately addressed the potentially severe health risks associated with higher levels of PPD.

If you are an African American that used ‘Just For Men’ hair care products and feel that your health and safety have been neglected by the makers, COMBE, INC., then Please contact Us at 406-219-7798 or email us at Info@MyPirl.com to tell us your story! We are here to help!