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Hair Straightener Cancer

Recent studies have found that hair straighteners and hair relaxers contain toxic chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Increasingly, women who frequently used these products and have been diagnosed with uterine cancer or breast cancer are filing hair straightener cancer lawsuits against L’Oreal, Revlon, and other manufacturers. As well, women who developed uterine fibroids and underwent surgical removal or a hysterectomy are also filing hair relaxer lawsuits.


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According to hair straightener lawsuits, cosmetics companies knew their products were harmful since at least 2015 but withheld toxic chemicals from ingredient labels and failed to warn consumers of the health risks. For decades, manufacturers aggressively marketed and promoted hair relaxer or straightener products mainly to Black consumers (some of whom used hair relaxers for decades) as safe, and these products generated billions of dollars in sales.

Research and Studies

The Sister Study, published in October 2022 by the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEHS, which is part of NIH), found that women who regularly (at least every five to eight weeks) used hair relaxer products had a 156 percent increased risk of uterine cancer and 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer. The Sister Study followed 33,947 women aged 35 to 74 for a period of 11 years.

The NIH researchers determined that women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products were more than twice as likely to go on to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use the products. About 60 percent of the participants who reported using straighteners in the previous year were self-identified Black women, according to the study also published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The same researchers at NIH also found that that permanent hair dye and straighteners may increase breast and ovarian cancer risk. The International Journal of Cancer, which published a study in December 2019, suggests that breast cancer risk increased with more frequent use of these chemical hair products.

Hair Relaxer Carcinogenic Chemicals

The scientists noted that several chemicals linked to cancer are found in the hair straighteners, namely parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde. Exposure to these chemicals could be more worrisome than other personal care products due to increased absorption through the scalp, which may be exacerbated by burns and lesions caused by straighteners. As well, blood vessels in the scalp are closer to the surface of the skin than the rest of the body, which makes it easier for chemicals to be absorbed.

The above chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors (EDCs). These endocrine disrupting chemicals are known to disrupt the natural production of hormones and they can cause cancer cells to grow more rapidly, particularly when associated with the female reproductive system, hence higher risk of uterine cancer and breast cancer.

In a study published by the  Journal of Health and Pollution (JHP)  in May 2021, researchers found excessive levels of parabens and phthalates in urine samples that were associated with a significantly higher risk of developing endometrial cancer. They noted that women were at the highest risk due to the ability of these chemicals to alter the function of proteins and cells found inside of the female reproductive system, as well as disrupt the body’s normal regulation of hormones.

Hair Straighteners and Relaxers and the FDA

Because chemical hair relaxants and straighteners are categorized as cosmetics, companies do not have to submit safety data to the FDA for approval before they go to market. However, the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) have laws that apply to cosmetic products sold in the U.S.

Under the FD&C Act, companies cannot market products that are “adulterated” or “misbranded.” Adulterated products are defined as those with substances that cause injury to the user or are contained in a manner that makes the product harmful to health. Misbranded products include those that have been improperly labeled or deceptively packaged. It is illegal for companies to put harmful ingredients, such as chemicals known to be associated with cancer, in their products.

The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1966 is consumer protection legislation. The act directs the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission to regulate product manufacturers’ truthful disclosure of information on labels and packages, including the contents, commodity, and name and place of businesses of the product’s manufacturer, packer, or distributor.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced early February 2023 that it plans to start regulating phthalates like Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP) as toxic chemicals subject to reporting requirements.

Hair Relaxer and Straightener Litigation

Just one week after the above NIH study was published, the first hair straightener lawsuit was filed by Jenny Mitchell against L’Oreal and Namaste.  The Missouri woman, age 32, was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2018 and underwent a hysterectomy.  She alleges her diagnosis was 'caused by regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals' found in L'Oreal products. Mitchell started using EDCs and/or phthalate-based products around 2000, when she was 10 years old.
 Here are a few excerpts from her 77-page complaint:
  • [L’Oreal and other] companies allegedly knew their products were harmful since at least 2015 but failed to warn consumers of the health risks.
  • “In the 1970s, lye relaxer users and manufacturers noticed that the lye formula stripped proteins from the hair strand, resulting in the hair thinning and breaking. As a result, Johnson and Johnson marketed the first ‘gentle’ hair relaxer in 1981, which used milder chemicals such as potassium hydroxide and lithium hydroxide.”
  • “Defendants market their hair relaxer products to African American customers across the United States, and the world, reinforcing the same historical Eurocentric standards of beauty. Defendant’s marketing scheme relies heavily relying on branding and slogans that reinforce straight hair as the standard.”
  • “Ms. Mitchell used Defendants’ Products by applying this to her scalp or by having a professional at a hair salon apply Defendants’ Products exactly as instructed by Defendants.”
  • [Had Mitchell] received a warning that the use of the Products would significantly increase her risk of developing uterine cancer, she would not have used them. As a proximate result of Defendants’ design, manufacture, marketing, sale, and distribution of the Products, Plaintiff was injured catastrophically, and was caused severe pain, suffering, infertility, disability, impairment, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of care, comfort, and economic damages.”
Mitchell’s complaint details a history of hair straighteners and relaxers, from developing to marketing such products. It also includes information about the common chemicals found in these products and the injuries associated with exposure to those chemicals, such as Uterine Cancer, Breast Cancer, Uterine Fibroids, Endometriosis, and Pre-term Delivery. The case is: Jenny Mitchell v. L'Oreal USA Inc. et al., case number 1:22-cv-05815, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The first hair relaxer lawsuit involving uterine fibroids was filed last December in the Southern District of Georgia (Gamble v. Strength of Nature Global, LLC, et al. (4:22-cv-00256). The plaintiff claims she used hair relaxer products from the age of six and developed uterine fibroids when she was 22 years old.

A group of hair relaxer plaintiffs filed a motion with the JPML requesting consolidation of all hair relaxer product liability cases in federal courts into a new class action MDL.  The defendants, led by L’Oreal, filed a response opposing the request for consolidation, preferring the Southern District of New York. However, on February 6, 2023, the JPML issued an Order consolidating all hair relaxer cancer lawsuits in federal courts into in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. The MDL will begin with approximately 60 pending cases from districts across the U.S.

Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer lawsuits have been filed against the following companies:
  • L’Oreal (SoftSheen Carson)
  • Revlon
  • Strength of Nature Global, LLC
  • Namaste Laboratories, LLC
  • Godrej Global
  • Dabur Ltd
Attorneys nationwide are also reviewing complaints that allegedly have caused endometrial cancer/endometriosis and ovarian cancer. Besides the above, attorneys are also looking into companies marketing other hair perms and hair straightener products. L’Oreal , the largest cosmetic company in the world, posted in 2021 total revenue of $32.2 billion and net income of $4.6 billion.


If you or a loved one has suffered similar damages or injuries, please fill in our form and your complaint will be sent to a lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
Published on Mar-1-23


Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update
Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update
April 3, 2024
  As of early March, at least 8,334 hair relaxer lawsuits are pending in a federal MDL (multidistrict litigation). Following a study that linked cancer to hair straightener products in late 2022, African American women have filed product liability lawsuits claiming certain cosmetic companies caused their uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer and other serious injuries. READ MORE

Hair Relaxers – Read the Label
Hair Relaxers – Read the Label
January 16, 2024
Black women who have used hair relaxers for most of their lives have been “shocked” and “horrified” to discover that studies have linked formaldehyde—the chemical found in most hair relaxers—to cancer and fibroids. A recent Boston University report highlights an increased risk for Black women to develop uterine cancer after receiving a particular hair treatment, but studies suggesting that hair products containing a variety of chemicals are linked to asthma, hormone disruptions and even cancer go back to 2018. READ MORE

More Black Women Filing Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
More Black Women Filing Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
November 12, 2023
As attorneys ramp up advertising on television and social media, more Black women are becoming aware of the association between hair relaxers and uterine cancer, and that at least a dozen cosmetic companies sold their hair straighteners containing dangerous chemicals and failed to warn customers. Many women are just now learning that they have rubbed carcinogenic formaldehyde into their scalps for decades and thousands of hair relaxer lawsuits have been filed – and continue to be filed – by women of color against these companies, including L’Oreal and Revlon. READ MORE


Posted by

I have had removal of fibroid tumors twice and a tube removed from right side behind fibroids. I have a CT abdomen pelvis with contrast on February 7th because of suspected fibroids again because of severe pain in my left side.I never thought I was getting these fibroids behind a hair relaxer.

Posted by

Total hysterectomy from hai straightener a and color. I did it at LSU hospital

Posted by

I have used loreal hair products(soft sheen Carson I have used)also flat hot irons since I was around 12 or 13 and I am now 33.i was diagnosed with endometriosis at 18 years old also uterine fibroids.i have an apointment this week with my obgyn to check again uterine cancer.i have suffered has affected my entire life.

Posted by

My sister passed away from breast cancer in 2015 she used the following products for 15 or more years.
L’Oreal (SoftSheen Carson)
Strength of Nature Global, LLC
Namaste Laboratories, LLC
Godrej Global
Dabur Ltd

Vanessia Freeman


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