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Revlon’s popular drugstore cosmetic line Almay is facing allegations that it falsely labels its makeup as being hypoallergenic when the products actually contain known harmful allergens and skin irritants.

Plaintiff Kathryn Flint filed the Almay Cosmetics class action lawsuit in California federal court earlier this month. Hypoallergenic cosmetics are sought out by consumers, like Flint, who suffer from skin allergies or those seeking to avoid any repeat inflammatory reaction due to sensitive skin.

Flint says she occasionally purchased several of the alleged falsely labeled drugstore cosmetics, including Almay’s Truly Lasting Color Liquid Makeup, Almay’s Clear Complexion Concealer, and Almay’s Color+Care Liquid Lip Balm at a San Francisco Walgreens. She claims she bought the makeup relying on the label representations that it was “hypoallergenic”, cautious since she and her family have suffered skin and eye irritation and dermatitis in the past and didn’t really know what exact ingredient could trigger an allergic skin reaction.

But, according to the CDC, when skin is exposed to a sufficient amount of a chemical allergen, the skin is “sensitized.” Upon re-exposure to the allergen, the skin initiates an inflammatory cascade, causing skin changes associated with allergic contact dermatitis. These include redness, oedema (fluid retention), scaling, fissures (cracking), vesicles (fluid-filled sacs), bullae (bubble-like cavity), and eventually oozing.

However, the Almay Cosmetics class action lawsuit asserts that in order to capitalize on the growing hypoallergenic market, Revlon prominently (and purportedly falsely) labels its Almay line of drug-store cosmetics as “hypoallergenic.” However, despite its marketing scheme, the Almay cosmetics contain a “shocking array and substantial amount of known skin allergens, agents that can cause severe skin corrosion, serious eye damage, skin irritants, or are otherwise toxic or hazardous in the case of skin contact,” the 76-page complaint states.

In fact, in its internal document defining the term “hypoallergenic”, Almay lists dozens of ingredients it recognizes as “known allergens” that are deemed unacceptable in hypoallergenic products. Among others, Almay lists corn starch, salicyclic acid, and zinc stearate as known allergens – all ingredients in their so-called “hypoallergenic” cosmetics.

“Almay falsely and misleadingly claimed that the ingredients in its products are “hypoallergenic” when they are not. By deceiving consumers about the nature, quality, and/or ingredients of its products, Almay is able to command a premium price, increasing consumers’ willingness to pay and take away market share from competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits.”

Had Flint known at the time that the Almay makeup was not hypoallergenic as promised, she says would not have purchased the cosmetics. Flint is seeking to represent a Class of similarly situated consumers who purchased Almay cosmetics. Along with injunctive relief, the proposed class action lawsuit is asking the court to award statutory and punitive damages.

Flint is represented by Yvette Golan of The Golan Law Firm and James A. Francis and David A. Searles of Francis & Mailman PC.

The Almay Cosmetics Class Action Lawsuit is Kathryn Flint, et al. v. Revlon, Inc., et al., Case No. 1:18-cv-06992, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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