Celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Anna Kendrick have promoted EOS (which stands for Evolution of Smooth), the inexpensive spherical lip balms that come in a range of pretty colours. But, in California last week, a new class action lawsuit was filed claiming that a ‘substantial number of consumers’ have experienced adverse reactions to the product. These include rashes, dryness, bleeding, blistering, cracking, and loss of pigmentation, lasting from a few days to a few months, leaving some consumers with long lasting and perhaps permanent symptoms.

It seems that allergic reactions are a big factor behind these problems. Dr Marie Jhin, a dermatologist in San Francisco, believes that the allergic contact dermatitis which some consumers have developed may be in response to Vitamin E. This is listed as tocopherol in EOS’s lip balm ingredients and can cause irritation in people who are allergic. Dr Lauren Ploch, a New Orleans dermatologist, explains that people with allergies should not be confused into thinking that, because a product is 'natural' it cannot cause allergies. For example, milk is natural product but dairy and lactose are major allergens. 

It is not yet clear how many people will join the class action lawsuit but the company's Facebook page shows many consumers complaining of 'allergic reactions' to the balm. The company has responded saying that its products are 'safe to use' and posted on its Facebook page that 'the health and well-being of our customers is our top priority and millions of satisfied customers use our products every day'. 

Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence and product liability team at Pennington Manches, said: “With any product comes the risk of adverse reaction. As long as companies are upfront about what is in their products then there shouldn’t be a problem. One of the allegations being brought against the manufactures of the lip balm is that there is a lack of full disclosure of ingredients on the packaging. The company is being asked to include a warning on its packaging. The courts will decide whether there is any merit to the claims. In the meantime, it’s good to see that EOS is taking this seriously and has announced that ensuring product quality and customer satisfaction is its number one priority.”