Research has shown that some hair products from popular brands – primarily chemical hair relaxers and straighteners – are linked to an increased risk of serious health conditions like cancer and uterine fibroids. In a study by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that women who use hair straighteners had almost double the risk of uterine cancer compared to women who did not use such products. Although these products are widely used among people of all ages and hair types, Black women tend to be most affected.
In a statement, Dr. Che-Jung Chang, coauthor of the study, stated that “Because Black women use hair-straightening or relaxer products more frequently and tend to initiate use at earlier ages than other races and ethnicities, these findings may be even more relevant for them.” Black women have long used these products to make their hair straighter, smoother, and more manageable. However, the harmful effects of these products are serious and undeniable. If you or a loved one has been negatively impacted by the use of hair relaxer products, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP are prepared to help. With over 100,000 cases won and more than 250 years of combined courtroom experience, we have the perseverance and guile necessary to help victims recover damages for their medical bills, pay for current and future medical care, and face the future knowing they have the resources necessary to carry on. We will support you against major corporations, insurance companies, and opposing legal counsel and advocate on your behalf to secure your rights and maximize your compensation. To schedule a free, no obligation consultation with the expert lawyers at Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP, call 1-800-568-7500 or fill out our contact form today.
How can hair relaxers cause uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer is not the only serious health condition associated with chemical hair relaxers and straighteners. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer in May 2021 found that women who used these products – as well as perms and hair dye – had an increased risk of breast cancer.
How can these hair products be so harmful? Naturally, the answers lie in the ingredients – specifically, in ingredients known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs. According to the Environmental Working Group, 1 in 12 beauty care products sold to Black women contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, phthalates, and bisphenol-A. Many “lye” hair relaxers contain sodium hydroxide, which can cause lesions and burns in the scalp, helping hair relaxer constituents enter the body. Even “no-lye” hair relaxers can cause scalp lesions and burns.
Phthalates are likely to be one the worst culprits among these ingredients in terms of causing harmful health conditions. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not need to approve cosmetic products – and because such products do not need to disclose a complete list of their ingredients – many opt to report phthalates simply as “perfume” or “fragrances.” Phthalates are hormonally active in that they have been shown to have estrogenic effects on mammals. Scientists at Northwestern Medicine demonstrated a causal link between DEHP, the type of phthalate most often found in hair relaxers (and many other consumer products), and the proliferation of tumors. This specific compound may activate a hormonal pathway in women that increases the risk of malignant tumors and, by extension, certain types of cancer.
What hair product brands have been linked to cancer?
Many popular hair care brands have been implicated in lawsuits due to the harmful ingredients they contain. However, use of carcinogenic compounds is not exclusive to these brands – many chemical hair straighteners and relaxers use the same ingredients. If you do not see the product you use in this list, but use a similar product and have suffered from the adverse health conditions mentioned above, you may still have a case.
SoftSheen Carson (SSC), L’Oreal
- Precise No Lye Conditioning Relaxer Supreme
- Precise No Lye Original Relaxer
- No Base Relaxer
- Multi Mineral Reduced Ph Creme Relaxer
- Optimum Smooth Multi-Mineral Creme Hair Relaxer
- Multi-Mineral Reduced Ph Crème Relaxer
- Salon Collection Hair Relaxer Super Strength – Optimum Salon Haircare
- Salon Collection Relaxer Regular Strength – Optimum Salon Haircare
SSC Dark and Lovely, L’Oreal
- Moisturizing Relaxer with Shea Butter
- Triple Nourished Silkening Relaxer
- Beautiful Beginnings Kids No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Crème Relaxer
- Healthy Gloss Shea Moisture No-Lye Relaxer
- Sensitive Scalp Rhelaxer
- Butter Blend Sensitive Scalp Rhelaxer
- Conditioning Crème Relaxer
Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil
- No Base Relaxer
- No-Lye Relaxer
- New Growth Relaxer
- Girls Hair Relaxer
- Zone Relaxer
- Professional Crème Relaxer
- Mild Touch Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Deep Conditioning Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Deep Conditioning No-Lye Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Anti-breakage No-Lye Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Dream Kids Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Touch Up No-Lye Relaxer
- Herbal Intensive Dual Conditioning Relaxer
- Originals Olive Oil No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer
- Touch-Up Plus Moisturizing No-Lye New Growth Relaxer
Just For Me
- No-Lye Relaxer for Girls
- No-Lye Texture Softener
- Super Relaxer
- No-Lye Regular Relaxer
- No-Lye Super Relaxer
Soft & Beautiful
- Botanicals Regular Texturizer
- No-Lye Regular Texturizer
- No Lye Sensitive Scalp Relaxer
- Classic Formula Relaxer
- Regular Relaxer
- Silkening Shine No-Lye Relaxer
- Smooth & Silken Relaxer
- MegaSilk Shea Butter Relaxer
- Luxury Moisturizing Shea Butter Relaxer
- No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer
Crème of Nature
- Argan Oil Relaxer
- Conditioning No-Lye Hair Relaxer
- No Base Crème Hair Relaxer
If you’ve used any of the listed products or any that are similar and have received a cancer diagnosis as a result, fill out our contact form or call Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP at 1-800-568-7500 today for a free legal consultation.
History of hair relaxer and straightener lawsuits
The first hair relaxer lawsuit (Mitchell v. L’Oreal, et al. – 1:22-cv-5815) was filed by Jenny Mitchell in October 2022. Mitchell had used chemical hair relaxers since she was 10 years old. Like most women who use these products, she proceeded to use them every six-to-eight weeks for the next 18 years. Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer at the age of 28. In the lawsuit, she is suing L’Oreal and several other cosmetic companies for product liability, claiming that their hair relaxers caused her cancer. In November of the same year, a class action lawsuit was filed by four women against L’Oreal and SoftSheen-Carson due to the manufacturers’ use of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and phthalates in their hair relaxers.
These are far from the first lawsuits filed against cosmetic companies like L’Oreal. The above examples aren’t even the first cases filed concerning hair care products. In 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against L’Oreal that alleged that their hair relaxer products contained dangerous chemicals that caused scalp burns and hair loss in users. In 2016, a similar case was filed against L’Oreal, claiming that they violated Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act.
Since Jenny Mitchell’s case in 2022, numerous other lawsuits have been filed throughout the country. All the plaintiffs allege that the chemicals that these manufacturers use in their chemical hair relaxers and straighteners contributed to their uterine cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, or other adverse health conditions. One thing is clear: the research is on the victims’ side. In February 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added certain phthalates – including DEHP and DINP, both chemicals regularly found in hair relaxer and straightener products – to their list of high-priority toxic substances that need extensive risk evaluations. In their press release, the EPA noted that many laboratory studies on animals have demonstrated that exposure to phthalates in the womb can even negatively impact male development and reproduction. This has been dubbed “phthalate syndrome.” Their review process for these phthalates will be unique in that they are undertaking a cumulative risk assessment in addition to evaluating these chemicals individually. Because these phthalates are similar toxicologically and often found together, they deemed it important to understand the potentially increased cumulative risk that they pose together.
Frequently asked questions about hair relaxer lawsuits
How can victims recover damages with a hair relaxer lawsuit?
These hair relaxer lawsuits are primarily product liability cases. Consumers have certain protections under the law that manufacturers must honor. If the manufacturer is found to be negligent, to have breached warranty, or is found to be strictly liable (responsible even if no negligence is proven), a victim may likely recover damages. In cases where a consumer has developed cancer or another adverse health condition from the use of chemical hair relaxers or straighteners, their lawyer may be able to prove that the manufacturer of those products failed to warn the consumer about the risks of using the product. The lawyer may also argue that it is a case of defective design – the manufacturers could be held liable due to the inherently dangerous chemicals that they used in the making of these products.
Can I still recover damages if a loved one passed away due to health complications from hair relaxers?
Yes – if your loved one passed away due to uterine cancer or another adverse health condition that developed due to the use of hair relaxers, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Our team can help you form your case. While nothing can ever replace your loved one, we can help you win the compensation you need to pay for past medical bills and lost wages so that you can face the future with confidence.
What should I do if I have a cancer diagnosis that may have been caused by hair relaxer products?
If you have received a cancer diagnosis and have used hair relaxers in the past, it is possible that you may have a case against the manufacturer. You will want to be thorough in the next steps you take towards potentially recovering damages.
Document your symptoms. To prepare for your legal consultation, you will want to gather any medical documents that you think may be relevant to your case. If necessary, ask your doctor for copies of any diagnostic results. Try to remember to the best of your ability when you started using hair relaxer products, how frequently you used them, and which brands you used. All of this information will be of great help to your legal team as they determine the strength of your case and how it should be conducted.
Write down your questions. You will likely have many questions about the legal process, about your next steps, and how much your potential settlement from the hair relaxer lawsuit could amount to. Do careful research about your best options for legal counsel. Consider additional factors like whether or not the manufacturer has already had successful lawsuits filed against them due to toxic and carcinogenic hair relaxer products.
Learn about your legal rights. As a consumer in the United States, you have certain rights and protections when it comes to the products you buy and use. Understanding more about product liability and consumer fraud can help facilitate your upcoming conversations with potential legal counsel.
Choose the right law firm. Ultimately, you will want to ensure that the lawyers that help you file your hair relaxer lawsuit are the best available. Research potential options to determine who would feel most comfortable working with. Remember that a strong and reliable law firm will be honest and direct about the legal process and the potential viability of your case. Do your best to follow these steps to help ensure that you are well prepared for taking the next steps in your case. Take copious notes along the way – this will be a learning process for anyone without extensive legal training. With a team like Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP, however, you would be in very capable hands.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation
To help maximize your chances of recovering damages for the suffering you have experienced due to hair relaxer products, it’s critical to have an expert product liability legal team involved. Our product liability lawyers manage lawsuits in all 50 states. We offer free consultations with our attorneys so that we can help you better understand your legal options and the strength of your case. For more information, call Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP at 1-800-568-7500 or fill out our contact form today.