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Toxic Hair Relaxers

Jenny Mitchell – a 32-year-old African American woman from Missouri – was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2018. In October 2022, she filed a federal lawsuit against five companies for making toxic chemical hair straighteners and relaxers that make women more susceptible to developing cancers without any consumer warning on the packaging. It is these toxic hair products that Mitchell alleges have caused her cancer. The companies she has named in the lawsuit include L’Oreal, Dabur, SoftSheen Carson, Namaste Laboratories, and Strength of Nature[1].

Keaira Gamble filed a case in the Southern District of Georgia against L’Oreal, Namaste, SoftSheen Carson, and Strength of Nature in October 2022. She claimed these brands’ hair-relaxing products caused her uterine fibroids and endometriosis.[2]

Another lawsuit recently filed against popular companies that make hair relaxers was by Timika Smith; a resident of Illinois who alleged these products caused her uterine cancer and endometriosis. The companies named as defendants include L’Oreal, Strength of Nature, SoftSheen Carson, Parafums de Coeur, PDC Brands, and Godrej Son Holdings.[3]

These are just a few examples of the many cases that have been filed lately by women of color in various parts of the United States against renowned hair care companies.

What has caused this sudden surge in cases, you may wonder? And why are all these women filing lawsuits now when they were diagnosed with cancers and other related health issues several years ago?

The trend can be attributed to the research study by the National Institutes of Health published on October 17, 2022.

The Toxicity of Hair Straightening Chemicals – What Does the Research Say

The NIH study found that the frequent use of chemical hair relaxers and straightening products can increase women’s risk of developing uterine cancer. While the research didn’t find any correlation between these products (chemicals), cancer, and race, it highlighted that the risk is significantly higher in Black women because they use chemical hair straighteners more commonly and regularly than others.

The research study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, tracked women, around 60% of whom identified themselves as Black, for over a decade.

When assessed for their risk of developing uterine cancer, the study found that those who used these hair straightening products frequently had more than twice the risk of those who did not. No correlation was found between other hair products, like bleach or dyes, and uterine cancer.[4]

Uterine cancer is a rare type of cancer, accounting for only about 3% of new cancer cases every year. However, its prevalence has been increasing in Black women in the US, who also happens to be the biggest target group and most frequent users of chemical hair relaxers.

How Can the Bourassa Law Group Help?

Bourassa Law Group can help victims of toxic hair relaxers file, and fight cases against companies that make these harmful chemical products, holding them accountable for their actions, and ensuring the victims are fairly compensated for the stress, trauma, and financial damage they’ve experienced.

We are accepting new case applications from women willing to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of chemical hair straightening products.

Contact Us for the Evaluation of Your Case.

Eligibility Criteria to File a Lawsuit against Hair Relaxer Companies

You should meet certain conditions to file a lawsuit against hair care companies and seek compensation from them. These include:

  • You must have used hair relaxers continuously for a minimum of five years before being diagnosed with cancer
  • You must know the brand(s) you have used
  • You must have been diagnosed in 2005 or later
  • Your diagnosis must be of any of the following:
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer (Endometrioid Ovarian Cancer, Serous Ovarian Cancer, Mucinous Ovarian Cancer, Clear Cell Ovarian Cancer, Undifferentiated Ovarian Cancer). You’ll also qualify if you’re unsure of the type.
  • Uterine Tumors/Fibroids
  • If diagnosed with Uterine or Ovarian Cancer, the age of the plaintiff must be under 60 at the time of diagnosis
  • In the case of Uterine Tumors/Fibroids, the plaintiff must not be older than 50 years at the time of diagnosis
  • Uterine and Ovarian Cancer diagnoses must have been within 10 years of the last hair relaxer use
  • In case of death, it must have occurred within 10 years of the last use of the hair relaxer
  • The plaintiff must have developed fertility issues or have undergone a hysterectomy or myomectomy due to the disease
  • Any maternal history of disease or injury must include the use of hair relaxers

What are Hair Relaxers and How Can They Cause Cancer?

Hair relaxers are chemicals that help smooth and straighten frizzy or curly hair. They work by breaking down the protein structure of the hair and use a combination of strong chemicals for this purpose. Many of these chemicals are Endocrine Disruptors (EDs). They can throw off the hormonal balance in the body, altering the functioning of the endocrine system and eventually leading to various health issues, including hormone-driven cancers, such as ovarian, breast, prostate, and uterine cancer.

Skin is the largest organ of the human body. Whatever we apply on the skin is absorbed through it into the body and enters the bloodstream. Hair relaxers cause health problems in the same way. With their frequent use, small amounts of harmful chemicals continue to enter your body. Over time, these chemicals start affecting various organs, disrupting their functioning, and leading to chronic diseases.

Dangerous Chemicals Found in Hair Relaxers

Several research studies have found concerning chemicals in hair relaxers marketed to women of color. These include:

  • Benzene
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)
  • Triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Formaldehydes
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Sulfates
  • Toluene
  • Triclosan
  • Synthetic Colors

All these chemicals are problematic. But there’s something even more concerning. A study commissioned by the Silent Spring Institute found that 84% of the chemicals found in hair products marketed to women of color are not even listed on the label. The researchers investigated 18 different hair products, including hair relaxers, based on responses from Black women about what products they use the most.

Types of Hair Straightening Treatments Women with Curly Hair Use

As any woman would know, there are several hair straightening methods and products available these days. Some offer temporary results, while others are meant to straighten hair permanently. Those belonging to the latter category are known to be the most toxic. And sadly, these are the ones women of color often opt for, especially those with very curly natural hair.

Some of the most commonly used hair straightening methods and products include:

  • Chemical Relaxers – The strongest and most toxic of all kinds, chemical relaxers change the texture of the hair permanently.
  • Texturizers – These are a type of relaxers that do not completely straighten the hair but loosen the curls. They may not have the same effects as chemical relaxers, but they are no less toxic.
  • Keratin Treatment/ Brazilian Blowout – These are semi-permanent hair straightening methods that contain unsafe amounts of formaldehyde and a range of other chemicals.
  • Flat-Ironing/Pressing/Blow Drying – These are temporary non-chemical hair straightening methods. And while they are not toxic like chemical-based products and treatments, they are damaging to the hair. Also, they aren’t the most popular hair straightening methods among women of color as their results last for a very short time and hence, are not included in research studies and lawsuit eligibility criteria.

What is a Qualifying Injury to File a Lawsuit Against Hair Care Companies?

On the basis of the eligibility criteria, the following three diagnoses make qualifying injuries for lawsuits against chemical hair straightening product manufacturers:

  • Uterine Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Uterine Fibroids/Tumors

An ovarian cancer diagnosis must be one of the following types:

  • Serous Ovarian Cancer
  • Endometrioid Ovarian Cancer
  • Mucinous Ovarian Cancer
  • Clear Cell Ovarian Cancer
  • Undifferentiated Ovarian Cancer

Uterine cancer cases where the exact type isn’t known or confirmed are also considered qualifying injuries for a hair relaxer lawsuit.

Why File a Lawsuit Against Hair Relaxer Manufacturers?

If you or a loved one has been a victim of toxic chemical-based hair relaxers and meet the eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to compensation. While no amount of money can compensate for your loss and trauma, it can help cover the cost of medical treatments, ongoing healthcare bills, physiological care and support that you may need to heal mentally and emotionally, and to make up for the lost wages due to your disease.

This first case of this kind was filed in a federal court in Michigan in November 2022, where the plaintiffs demanded that the defendants pay for a long-term medical monitoring program for women at risk of the harmful effects of chemical hair straightening products.

This is a great first step. But the journey isn’t going to be smooth and easy because there are some big names on the other side. Defendants like L’Oreal won’t submit to plaintiffs’ demands that easily, which is why the plaintiffs need good lawyers on their side.

We at Bourassa Law Group have put together a dedicated team of lawyers with extensive experience in dealing with civil cases to help the affected individuals get their lawful share of compensation from those responsible for causing them health issues.

Talk to Us to Learn More About Filing a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit and How We Can Help.

Hair Relaxer Injury Cases We Can Handle

We’re capable of handling all sorts of hair relaxer injury cases as long as they meet the legal criteria. Our team of professional lawyers can offer all the legal help you need to file a lawsuit and reach a settlement. Hair relaxer injury cases our law firm can handle include:

  • Uterine Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Uterine Fibroids
  • Breast Cancer

Ready to File a Lawsuit against Toxic Hair Relaxer Companies? Contact Us to Get Started!

What are the Impacts of Toxic Hair Relaxers?

Hair care is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US with a disproportionately high expenditure from people of color, particularly women. However, the hair care products marketed to them are all too often the most toxic, making Black women pay a high price for their desire to change the structure, texture, and appearance of their hair. They are packed with endocrine disruptors, which are hormonally-active chemical agents. When absorbed into the body consistently through the skin (scalp), these interfere with the body’s endocrine system and thus can lead to the growth of malignant tumors (cancers), fertility issues, and developmental and behavioral disorders. Endocrine disruptors can also throw off homeostasis.

The widespread use of these products is potentially one of the major reasons Black women undergo hysterectomies at alarming rates. According to research estimates, more than 200,000 hysterectomies are performed on Black women every year. Researchers also believe that these products are also one of the reasons behind the increasing prevalence of uterine cancer in the US.

Contact the Bourassa Law Group

Chemical hair relaxers can be life-threatening. Even if you manage to survive, the serious consequences of long-term exposure to chemical toxins can drastically affect your health by causing chronic diseases, including certain types of cancers. While you may not be able to completely reverse the health impacts of toxic hair relaxers, we at the Bourassa Law Group can help ensure you’re compensated well for all the damages (tangible and intangible) they have caused you.

Dial 1-800-870-8910 to schedule a consultation appointment.


[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/10/27/loreal-lawsuit-hair-straightener-relaxer/

[2] https://yourcaseworks.com/loreal-hair-straightener-lawsuit-updates/

[3] https://yourcaseworks.com/loreal-hair-straightener-lawsuit-updates/

[4] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/hair-straightening-chemicals-associated-higher-uterine-cancer-risk

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