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Severe allergic reaction to expired hair dye hospitalizes Magna woman

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MAGNA — A Utah woman is warning others after she suffered a severe allergic reaction to expired hair dye she purchased from a Magna grocery store.

It was Amanda Ortega’s first time using hair dye from a box, and it will most likely be her last.

“I just dye it the same color but this is the first time that I’ve used the box dyes,” Ortega said. “I have always gone to Sally’s and have gotten them separate and mixed them in.”

On Thursday, she tried out a dye she purchased from a Smith’s location in Magna. The next morning, she washed in and noticed something was wrong.

“My scalp was burned, like bright red,” she said. “I had big scabs and it was just oozing stuff out of them.”

She went to urgent care and was told her severe allergic reaction was caused by the hair dye and was given steroids. But her swelling did not go away.

“It progressively got worse and my eyes got more swollen, my face got more swollen,” she said.

She had a hard time breathing and ended up back in the ER two more times over the next few days. When she got home, she took a look at the box and saw a date that caught her attention.

“It said that the hair category lasts 52 weeks ending on 8/15/2017,” she said. “The doctor said there might be something I’m allergic to that maybe settled since it’s expired.”

Ortega filed a claim with Smith’s and KSL received this statement from Smith’s about the incident: “We have been in contact with the customer and a claim has been filed. We take these matters seriously and we will continue to investigate the unfortunate occurrence.”

Amanda Ortega points to the expiration date on the hair dye she purchased from a Magna Smith’s location. Photo: Steve Breinholt, KSL TV
Amanda Ortega points to the expiration date on the hair dye she purchased from a Magna Smith’s location. Photo: Steve Breinholt, KSL TV

The FDA said there are no U.S. laws or regulations that require cosmetics to have specific shelf lives or have expiration dates on their labels. Determining a product’s shelf life is up to the manufacturer. Also, some companies track how long their products have been on store shelves and alert stores when it is time to discard them.

Ortega said she hopes her experience is one others can learn from.

“I was just trying to save money and this is what I got,” Ortega said. ”It’s definitely an eye-opener to be careful.”


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Ashley Moser
Ashley Moser joined KSL in January 2016. She co-anchors KSL 5 Live at 5 with Mike Headrick and reports for the KSL 5 News at 10.


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