Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit

Experts have linked hair relaxers to an increased risk of ovarian and uterine cancer. Cancer patients and families are seeking compensation. They allege manufacturers like L'Oréal and Revlon did not warn them of the dangers of chemical straighteners. Lawyers can help victims take legal action.

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Why Are People Filing Hair Relaxer Lawsuits?

Thousands of people have filed chemical hair relaxer lawsuits. These lawsuits claim that consistent and long-term use of chemical hair relaxers caused uterine and ovarian cancer. These lawsuits seek to help individuals get the compensation they deserve and hold the manufacturers responsible for failing to warn consumers about their dangerous products.

Individuals started filing these lawsuits after a prominent 2022 National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) study. NIEHS is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH). The study linked chemical relaxers and straighteners to an increased risk of uterine cancer.

The study's most prominent finding was that women who reported frequent use of chemical hair straighteners were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer over those who did not. Previous research had linked chemical hair straighteners to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Shortly after the NIEHS study was released, people began to file hair relaxer cancer lawsuits. Notable lawsuit defendants include L'Oréal USA, Inc., Revlon and various other products and brands. Experienced product liability lawyers can help hair relaxer victims file lawsuits against these companies and seek the justice they deserve.

Chemical Hair Relaxers Linked to Increased Cancer Risk

The link between chemical hair straighteners and cancer became publicly known after a series of NIEHS studies. One of the studies was part of the larger NIEHS Sister Study. The Sister Study followed 50,000 women between the ages of 35 and 74 for over 10 years to determine how environmental and genetic factors impact cancer risk.

In 2021, analysis of 40,559 Sister Study participants found a link between hair relaxer use and ovarian cancer. Researchers found that women who used these products more than four times a year were more likely to develop ovarian cancer.

In 2022, analysis of 33,497 Sister Study participants linked hair relaxer use to increased risk of uterine cancer. Researchers found women who used chemical hair straighteners more than four times annually were twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than those who did not use the products. ​

The study also found this increased risk could disproportionately affect Black women. About 60% of the study participants who said they used chemical straighteners were Black women.

The study did not examine exactly which products or ingredients may have led to this increased risk. However, researchers noted that frequent exposure to chemicals in the hair relaxers and straighteners could be to blame.

Was your illness caused by chemical hair relaxers? Review your legal options now

Dangerous Chemicals in Chemical Hair Relaxers

In 2021, the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) released a report on harmful chemicals found in hair straightening products. The report identified several hair relaxer ingredients with documented harms. The 2022 NIEHS study also identified a few chemicals found in these products that may lead to increased cancer risk. Harmful chemicals in hair straighteners include:

  • Cyclosiloxanes: Cyclosiloxanes are chemicals used in the manufacture of silicons. Some data indicates cyclosiloxanes may be carcinogenic to female reproductive organs in animals. Experts say this may not be true for humans because of biological differences between people and the test animals.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA): Some sources suggest DEA may be present in about half of all hair relaxer kits. International regulatory agencies list DEA as carcinogenic to animals. They also classify it as possibly carcinogenic to humans. DEA has been associated with certain cancers in mice.
  • Formaldehyde: Consumer watchdog groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have found high levels of formaldehyde in hair straightening products. Experts say long-term formaldehyde exposure may increase cancer risks for salon workers.
  • Metals: A variety of metals may be present in chemical hair relaxer products. Some of these metals can cause negative health effects, and a few are considered carcinogenic.
  • Parabens: Parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs may be a risk factor for cancer and other health issues. They have been linked to some forms of cancer in animal and laboratory studies. Some research also indicates endocrine disruptors may promote unhealthy weight gain. The Sister Study noted that paraben levels were higher in individuals with endometrial cancer, than those without.
  • Phthalates: The phthalates diethyl phthalate (DEP) and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) have been found in hair relaxers. Exposure to high doses of phthalates has been observed to cause reproductive and developmental issues in animals. DEHP has also been linked to cancers and hormone disruption in humans. The Sister Study noted that phthalate levels were higher in individuals with endometrial cancer, than those without.

These chemicals may be present in various brands of chemical hair relaxer products. Exposure to these and other chemicals in hair relaxers may have led to uterine and ovarian cancer in frequent users. Experienced attorneys can help patients seek justice and compensation for their illnesses.

Chemical Hair Relaxer Brands

Many prominent brands have been named in hair relaxer product lawsuits. Individuals who develop uterine or ovarian cancer after using the following brands and associated products may be eligible for compensation.

  • AFAM Concept, Inc.: Hawaiian Silky, Vitale
  • Avalon Industries, Inc.: Affirm
  • Beauty Bell Enterprises LLC, f/k/a House of Cheatham, Inc.: Africa's Best, Texture My Way
  • Dabur International Ltd.: ORS Olive Oil
  • L'Oréal USA, Inc: Dark & Lovely, Mizani, Optimum
  • Revlon: All Ways Natural Relaxer, Crème of Nature, Fabulaxer, French Perm, Herbarich, Revlon Professional, Revlon Realistic
  • Strength of Nature, LLC: African Pride, Just for Me, Motions, Soft & Beautiful, TCB Naturals

In some cases, lawsuits will name more than one company or product. Experienced attorneys can help patients determine if they are eligible to file a lawsuit against these companies.

Who Can File a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

People who develop a health issue after using hair relaxer products may be eligible to file a lawsuit. However, only a lawyer can determine the viability of your case. While assessing your case, an attorney may ask questions about your history of hair relaxer use and cancer risk factors. In order to file a lawsuit, you need to meet several criteria. These include:

  • Product use: People who used hair relaxer products at least four times a year, for more than two years may be able to file. This may have been in a professional or home setting.
  • Confirmation of use: Proof of use, such as receipts of purchase, photos of use, packaging from purchased products or salon records can help build a strong case.
  • Qualifying injuries: You need to provide proof of your ovarian cancer or uterine cancer.

Experienced personal injury lawyers can help determine if you meet these criteria. They can also assist clients with obtaining and organizing these necessary documents.

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

Hair relaxer lawsuits fall under the umbrella of personal injury claims or wrongful death claims. Filing deadlines are determined by a state's statutes of limitations. These deadlines vary by state, generally ranging from one to several years. A lawyer can review a victim's case and help determine their eligibility.

Types of Cancer Linked to Hair Relaxers

Hair relaxers and straighteners have been linked to several conditions, including cancer. Hair relaxer users have reported cancers, including ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. To be eligible for compensation, individuals must be able to show proof of qualifying conditions.

You may also be asked about any other risk factors or comorbidities. This can include any history of smoking, cancer in the family and hormone replacement therapy. Weight and age can also be risk factors for ovarian and uterine cancer.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer happens when malignant tumors form in the tissue of the ovaries. This cancer only affects individuals with a female reproductive system. According to American Cancer Society projections, nearly 20,000 U.S. women will receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2023.

Data from the Sister Study linked hair relaxers to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The study analyzed other hair care products as well, including dyes, bleaches and perms. Researchers found only chemical hair straighteners had an association with ovarian cancer risk. The study authors noted that ingredients in the hair relaxers may have caused this increased risk. They specifically mentioned phthalates, parabens, cyclosiloxanes, metals and formaldehyde.

Various risk factors may also have increased the chance of developing ovarian cancer. These include a history of talcum powder use, fertility treatments and childbirth.

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer occurs in the uterus of the female reproductive system. It is one of the most common cancers of the female reproductive system. The National Cancer Institute projected about 66,000 new uterine cancer diagnoses in 2023.

The Sister Study researchers found an increased risk of uterine cancer for women who frequently use hair relaxers. They found that frequent hair relaxer users were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than those who did not use these products. This risk may impact Black women, as they are more likely to use chemical hair relaxers.

Various risk factors may also have increased the chance of developing uterine cancer. These include a history of radiation treatment for cervical cancer, tamoxifen treatment for breast cancer and any prior cancers. Diabetes and extended estrogen exposure may also contribute to uterine cancer risk.

Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

The first hair relaxer lawsuit was filed by a Missouri resident with uterine cancer in October 2022. The lawsuit came shortly after the publication of the 2022 NIEHS study linking uterine cancer and hair relaxers. This lawsuit named many prominent hair relaxer companies, including L'Oréal.

Thousands of hair relaxer lawsuits have been filed since October 2022. Federal hair relaxer lawsuits have been condensed into multidistrict litigation (MDL) for pretrial matters. After pretrial matters are completed, cases in the MDL are uncombined for individual trials. Victims continue to file lawsuits within the MDL. The MDL seeks compensation for diseases developed as a result of frequent hair relaxer use.

In addition, a separate class action lawsuit against several hair relaxer manufacturers has been filed. The hair relaxer class action lawsuit seeks to reimburse purchasers of toxic hair relaxer products for the full price of the product. In contrast to an MDL, a class action combines similar legal actions for the entire lawsuit process, including trial.

Hair Relaxer Multidistrict Litigation: MDL 3060

In November 2022, a group of hair relaxer victims filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to condense similar hair relaxer lawsuits into an MDL.

This resulted in the creation of MDL 3060, IN RE: Hair Relaxer Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation. The MDL is assigned to a U.S. District Judge in Chicago, Illinois.

As of December 2023, 7,984 actions are pending in the MDL.

The MDL seeks compensation for diseases developed as a result of frequent hair relaxer use.

Lawsuit Highlight: Mitchell v. L'Oréal USA, Inc.

Jenny Mitchell filed her lawsuit against L'Oréal, Strength of Nature, Soft Sheen, Dabur International and Namaste Laboratories on October 21, 2022. This was the first hair relaxer case. Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer in August 2018. The lawsuit claims her cancer was caused by products manufactured by the defendants.

Mitchell used the defendants' toxic hair straightener products from around 2000 until March of 2022. She began using these products at around 10 years old. Like many women, Mitchell did not realize the hair relaxers were packed with harmful chemicals. After her cancer diagnosis in 2018, she underwent a full hysterectomy.

Mitchell's lawsuit seeks:

  • Compensatory damages to cover medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, lost earnings and other economic damages and, additionally, over $75,000 for pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and other non-economic damages
  • Punitive damages to punish the defendants for the threat to her health posed by harmful products

Her case has since been consolidated into MDL 3060.

Learn more about the MDL process here >

Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit

In contrast to an MDL, a class action lawsuit is filed by a small number of plaintiffs representing a larger group of parties with similar complaints. Cases are also combined for the entire lawsuit process, instead of just for pretrial matters like in an MDL.

The hair relaxer class action complaint was filed in November 2022. It is substantially different from the MDL complaints and cancer lawsuits. This class action lawsuit seeks to reimburse purchasers of dangerous hair relaxers. The plaintiffs claim that they would not have purchased these products if they had known the associated dangers.

Learn more about class action lawsuits here >

Hair Relaxer Settlements, Verdicts and Compensation

Chemical hair straightener lawsuits are in the early stages of litigation. As of December 2023, no public decisions or settlement announcements have been made.

Experienced personal injury product law firms may be able to give hair relaxer victims an idea of expected settlement amounts.

Hair Relaxer Lawsuit News

December 2023 | Almost 8,000 Actions in MDL

As of December 2023, there were 7,984 actions pending in MDL 3060. This is up from 236 lawsuits filed as of July 2023. Many actions are filed by multiple plaintiffs. For example, Jenny Mitchell's case was consolidated into the MDL in filing 46, which contained at least four other plaintiffs. So, the 7,984 actions may represent more than 7,984 hair relaxer victims.

November 2023 | Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss MDL Lawsuits

The judge overseeing MDL 3060 rejected a motion filed by the defendants to dismiss the hair relaxer lawsuits. The cases will be allowed to go forward alleging negligence, design defect, failure to warn customers and nine other counts.

November 2022 - February 2023 | MDL 3060 Created

In November 2022, lawyers representing a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to consolidate federal hair relaxer lawsuits into an MDL. The next month, defendants filed responses opposing consolidation. At a hearing in January 2023, the JMPL panel held a hearing to determine if the cases had enough in common to combine them for pretrial matters.

In February 2023, the panel ruled that centralizing these complaints into an MDL would allow for consistent findings across the cases. It also set the Northern District of Illinois as the venue.

November 2022 | Class Action Complaint Filed

Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint. This class action would seek to reimburse individuals who bought harmful hair relaxer products for the full purchase price. The class action complaint estimates plaintiffs paid between $5 and $8 each time they purchased a hair relaxer product.

October 2022 | First Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Filed

Jenny Mitchell filed the first hair relaxer lawsuit in October 2022. Her case connected her uterine cancer diagnosis to long-term hair relaxer use.

Research Timeline Before First Lawsuit

Before the first hair relaxer lawsuit was filed on October 21, 2022, several studies established the connection between hair relaxer use and increased cancer risk.

  • October 2022: Study results link hair straightener use with higher uterine cancer risk.
  • September 2021: Study results link use of hair straighteners and other hair products to increased ovarian cancer risk.
  • December 2019: Study results link permanent hair dye and straighteners to increased risk of breast cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

Who Qualifies to File a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

You may qualify for compensation from a hair relaxer lawsuit. In general, eligible individuals have:

  • Used hair relaxers four times a year for more than two years
  • Developed uterine or ovarian cancer
  • Purchased one or more qualifying hair relaxers and have proof of the purchase (like a receipt)

Hair relaxer lawsuit attorneys can help determine if you are eligible to file a lawsuit.

What Is the Average Settlement for a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

In general, successful product liability and cancer lawsuits result in compensation ranging from $100,000 - $1.75 million. Award amounts depend on the injury's severity and other factors. There are no hair relaxer verdicts or settlements yet. Litigation is still in very early stages.

What Hair Relaxers Are Named in the Lawsuits?

Several companies are named in hair relaxer lawsuits, including L'Oréal, Revlon, Softsheen-Carson, Strength of Nature, Dabur International and Avalon Industries. The companies are responsible for many subsidiary brands and products that have been linked to increased cancer risk. Notable brand names include Dark & Lovely, Just For Me and ORS Olive Oil.

What Chemical Causes Uterine Cancer?

In 2022, a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) study linked frequent hair relaxer use to a doubled risk of developing uterine cancer. The study authors noted that harmful ingredients in the hair relaxers were likely to blame. This includes formaldehyde, metals, parabens and other ingredients.

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