Mom Who Dyed Her Hair at Home Hospitalized After Horrifying Reaction

OMG 40

hair dye reaction

Do you color your own hair? If so, reading this may have you running to the salon or going back to your natural shade.

Though she'd colored her hair for the past two decades using the same product, 41-year-old mom Tina Littlewood found herself in the hospital recently after suffering a severe reaction to a Clairol Nice 'n Easy Highlight Kit

After testing a patch of hair as directed, the waitress then used the dye on the rest of her hair in an attempt to cover her grays before visiting her son. Twenty minutes later, her scalp became itchy and irritated -- but she tried to ignore the initial discomfort and went to sleep. 

When she woke up the next morning, however, one of Littlewood's eyes was swollen shut. But that's not the worst part: Her whole head had swelled to the size of a football, she said. 

More from The Stir: 6 Insider Tips for Coloring Your Hair at Home

Though she went to the hospital and was treated with steroid injections, antibiotics, and antihistamines, Littlewood's condition got worse before it got better. When both eyes swelled shut, the frantic British mom feared that losing her sight might be the least of her worries.

"It was so terrifying that at one point I thought, 'This is it, it’s over -- I’m going to die because of a hair color,'" she told the Daily Mail.

While I haven't experienced this myself, I remember my mom, who used home hair coloring kits for decades, would often complain of tingling sensations at the base of her neck just after applying the dye. Many times she'd switch brands trying to find one that didn't cause any skin irritation or strange symptoms. 

But a Clairol spokesman said that what happened to Littlewood is highly unusual and explained:

The safety of the people who use our products is our first and most important priority, so we’re concerned to hear about this.

Allergic reactions are very rare and hair colorants are extensively researched to ensure they are safe when used as directed.

Dyeing your hair at home is certainly a less expensive option -- but do horror stories like this make you think twice about doing it? 

hair dye at home

Being afraid of turning my light brown hair orange, I've been going to a salon for highlights for years. (I have a friend who colored her hair at home to save cash for an upcoming vacation and ended up looking like the comedian Carrot Top.) Sometimes I feel like the dye has caused eczema at the base of my neck to worsen. I even tried an organic salon, but the same thing happened. So what gives? 

Everyone jokes that beauty comes at a price -- but what happened to Littlewood definitely makes you wonder if covering your grays or lightening your hair is ever truly worth it.

Do you dye your hair? Have you ever had a reaction to it?

Images © GARO/phanie/Phanie Sarl/Corbis and YouTube



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nonmember avatar candice

The fear of an adverse reaction to ppd is the main reason that I use hennindigo and temporary colour to dye my hair dark brown.

Emily Maplemoose

I did my bottom part of my hair black with Revlon about a month ago, the same ive been using for years and I had a similar reaction just not as bad. I had to get the steroids and all and its still lingering

nonmember avatar Samantha

Why did she leave it in overnight? Especially since it was burning. She sounds like a moron.

nonmember avatar Michelle

I am a hairdresser, you should never trust over the counter color. You have no idea how long it's been on the shelf for or if it has been in excessive heat or cold each making the developer used in color go bad and cause reactions .

nonmember avatar Heather

Yes I have had this reaction I looked just like this picture but I used grainier nutruise (sp?) I was 20 I'm 26 now and haven't touched it since

nonmember avatar Donika Burriss

Omgggggg I had the same reaction from bogen color when I was 21. What a nightmare my head swell up and eye shut closed took a week to go down the doctor even told me I may had to shave my hair bald but luckily I didn't have to do that. These dyes are horrible and I don't think I will ever dye my hair again

bamba... bambambri

Its henna. Color its bad for you . This has happend MANY times. Until I started using NONE HENNA color. Or HENNA free.

Stephanie Piorkowski

Did she sleep with it in?  Why?  You are only supposed to use those for like 10-30 mins.  

nonmember avatar Joni

The same thing has happened to me using different brands after each reaction thinking it was just the brand I was using. I'd start off doing a patch test on the inside of my elbow as directed, with no reaction. But, with in minutes of washing the hair color out my scalp stats to itch, then proceeds to the swelling of my neck, ears, and face. With both eyes swelling shut. I have since decided to just stop coloring my hair. The last time I had this reaction was just last October.

Karto... KartofflMuter

What are you talking about? Henna is natural. I tried dying my hair 15 years ago and my scalp itched.By morning,my ears were stuck to my hair with pus. That lasted 6 weeks. I timed it and measured it exactly. I was dumb enough to try it again with the samw result. I've used plain herbal Henna powder for $3.99 a box (enough for 5-6 dyings )  ever since.I mix it with apple cider vinegar,black coffee, and a splash of red wine. I leave it in my hair for 3-5 hours. No itching.No problem whatsoever.I can even dye my eyebrows.

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