Warning: Defective Products,

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Inexperience, and Inflated Consumer Confidence May Cause Serious Personal Injury

By J Christian, Owner, J Christian Studio, Founder Fear the Shear, International Platform Artist and Master Educator, Industry Expert and Business Consultant, Icon of Method Alliance


An article in the FDA’s Consumer magazine notes that hair straighteners and hair dyes are among the agency’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors top consumer complaint areas. Some complaints are caused by misuse of the product; others are related to the product itself.

Sometimes, the issue can be as simple as an allergic reaction BUT, more often it’s chemically related. Perhaps defective products, a mislabeled product (i.e. “does not contain chemicals”), or even an inadequately tested and proven product is to blame. Terrifying as that is, considering the fact that the uptick in consumer lawsuits directly correlates to the launch of mass marketing of beauty products directly to the public should be a wake-up call to the consumer.

In this instance, an inexperienced, untrained, naively unaware consumer finds themselves dealing with a chemically induced disaster and their little box kit is sadly unequipped with information on how to detect and neutralize the issue. It doesn’t matter how often the product has been used, the FDA warns that such a reaction can occur even after years of using a hair dye product.

Chemical burns can be incredibly painful and can have severe and lasting consequences for victims. They can take a long time to heal, putting patients at risk for infections. The recovery can be expensive, requiring various medicines, including steroids, to heal the burns and creams to stop the pain. Of course, there is also the emotional impact associated with such chemical burns. The scarring of the head and face and the impact of hair loss can be emotionally traumatic for a person, leading to depression and anxiety.


Recently a very prominent, world-renowned hair dye manufacturer introduced the term “Salonist” to American vernacular. The term is prominently displayed and integral to the branding on the boxed hair color kit sold in chain stores and outlets. The term bothered me so much, I took the time to research how Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary would correlate the noun and suffix to reach the true definition.

What I found: Salonist means “A professional working in a business that gives customers beauty treatments.”

salon – noun, meaning – a business that gives customers beauty treatments

ist – suffix, 1) denoting an adherent of a system of beliefs, principles, etc., 2) denoting a member of a profession or business activity

The insinuation (or insult, depending on the reader): The person buying the box color at the supermarket for home use is equivalent to the trained salon professional.

In this hair veteran’s experience, this term very cutely and benignly sums up what ails the beauty industry.

PRODUCT DEVELOPED “For Professional Use Only”

These manufacturers are content to enjoy the profits associated with mass marketing while paying ‘lip service’ to the notion that they are interested in protecting the professional nature of the brand.

Hair dye chemical burns don’t only happen at home, they also happen in the salon. Salons make mistakes, sometimes also receive defective products, but the clear difference here is that the salon professional is educated and equipped to diagnose, address, and mitigate as much as possible the impact of the chemical.

Major brands with bi-polar marketing strategies are being sued by the millions of dollars for misleading the public, for overly simplifying the risks, for diverting professional grade product for public consumption. This is an issue of public safety!

Salon diversion is a controversial topic for many industry participants, no matter which side of the issue they are on. The only thing that’s for certain is that there will be more lawsuits in the future. If those lawsuits are anything like the ones so far, they will be creative and important to follow.

J Christian and his wife Marcy Wilkinson, own and operate J Christian Studio in Hockessin, Delaware. J Christian has over 37 years experience in this industry and is an active international artist and master educator. The Studio is full-service, upscale salon with expertise in hair, nails, makeup, executive and standard male grooming, as well as bridal services.