The Chemicals Linked to Hair Straightener Cancer

March 25, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
The Chemicals Linked to Hair Straightener Cancer

A recent government study links chemicals in certain hair straightening products to a higher risk of uterine cancer (cancer of the uterus). This startling information became the basis for numerous lawsuits against such hair straighter manufacturers as L’Oréal and Strength of Nature.

If you used hair straightener products and developed uterine cancer, breast cancer, or uterine fibroids, you may have a viable hair straightener lawsuit. Many product liability attorneys offer free case evaluations. Consider scheduling a consultation to understand whether you qualify for compensation.

Studies Linking Hair Straightener Chemicals to Cancer

The Chemicals Linked to Hair Straightener Cancer

Several studies have linked chemicals in hair products to certain cancers. Many base their findings on the Sister Study that examined thousands of women over ten years.

Hair Straightener and Uterine Cancer

The National Institutes of Health released disturbing results of their recent study that linked hair straightener products to cancer. The study showed that women who used certain hair straightening products had a higher risk of developing uterine cancer than those who didn’t.

The study looked at other hair products, such as dyes and bleaches but didn’t link them to cancer.

Almost 33,500 women from the USA participated in the study. Researchers used the data from another study launched to identify risk factors for breast cancer and other conditions. After following these women for over ten years, researchers found that many developed uterine cancer.

Further research demonstrated that women who used hair straightening products more than four times a year were two times more likely to develop uterine cancer than those who didn’t.

While uterine cancer is rare, it affects thousands of women. Studies demonstrate that the number of cases in the United States has been steadily rising, especially among women of color.

One of the reasons could be the use of hair straightening products. Black women use these products more frequently due to the structure of their hair.

While researchers didn’t identify the exact brands of hair straightening products that women in the study used, they believe that certain chemicals (phthalates, formaldehyde, parabens, metals) could contribute to the higher risk of developing the condition.

Hair Straightener and Breast Cancer

A study demonstrated that chemicals in hair dye and hair straighteners could increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Around a third of women over 18 use hair dye. Many of them also use hair straightening products. Black women are more likely to use these products due to the nature of their hair. According to research, around 75 percent of Black women use hair straighteners.

These products contain over 5,000 chemicals, many of which can be harmful. Some of these chemicals affect hormone balance and others may cause breast cancer. Many of these products contain formaldehyde, a substance that causes cancer.

Other research linked formaldehyde to uterine fibroids and endometriosis. These conditions are common among women of childbearing age.

Hair Straightener and Uterine Fibroids

Unlike uterine cancer, uterine fibroids are highly common in women. While these tumors are benign, they can interfere with the quality of life and warrant surgeries. Fibroids can also affect a person’s fertility.

In the United States, uterine fibroids are the leading cause of hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). Women often experience significant physical and emotional harm after this procedure.

Studies found that Black women had a much higher incidence of uterine fibroids than other groups. Hair relaxants may play a role in this statistic.

How Do Hair Straighteners Cause Cancer?

Hair straighteners contain several harmful chemicals. These products affect the structure of your hair and cause it to flatten.

Most hair straighteners contain endocrine disruptors called phthalates.

These chemicals affect the balance of hormones and can lead to:

  • Breast cancer
  • Problems with development in children
  • Fertility issues
  • Obesity
  • Asthma

When women use hair relaxants, a significant amount of the product touches their skin. Such exposure can be sufficient to increase the risk of developing cancer.

Another common chemical that hair straighteners contain is formaldehyde. Several studies have demonstrated the link between regular exposure to formaldehyde and the risk of developing different types of cancer.

Hair Straightener Lawsuits

People who have been using hair straightening products are actively filing lawsuits against the manufacturers, including:

  • L’Oréal USA Products, Inc.
  • L’Oréal USA, Inc.
  • Soft Sheen/Carson, Inc.
  • Soft Sheen-Carson, LLC
  • Strength of Nature Global, LLC
  • Strength of Nature, LLC
  • Godrej Son Holdings, Inc.
  • Godrej Consumer Products Ltd.
  • Namaste Laboratories, LLC
  • Dabur USA, Inc.

Products that may cause cancer include:

  • Ultra Precise
  • Dark & Lovely
  • Bantu
  • Optimum
  • Motions
  • Just for Me
  • ORS Olive Oil
  • African Pride
  • TCB Naturals
  • Luster’s
  • Africa’s Best
  • Creme of Nature
  • TCB Naturals
  • Mizani Rhelaxer
  • Soft & Beautiful Motions
  • Ultra Sheen Supreme
  • Olive Oil Girls

The first claimant to file a lawsuit, Jennifer Mitchell from Missouri, had been using hair straighteners since childhood. At 28, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a hysterectomy.

The National Institutes of Health study provides a strong basis for filing these lawsuits.

Women who developed uterine cancer because of hair straightener use could recover economic damages and compensation for their pain and suffering.

Damages in a Hair Straightener Lawsuit

When manufacturers use dangerous chemicals in their products that harm consumers, they may act negligently. If you can prove this, you can collect damages, including:

Economic Damages

Economic damages are financial damages you incur due to your injury related to the use of hair straightening products. If you’ve developed cancer, you can claim compensation for all past, present, and future medical treatments.

For example, you can recover the costs of medical assistance, surgery, at-home care services, and lost wages for the time you miss at work while treating or recovering from your injury.

These expenses are easily supported with hard evidence, such as medical bills, insurance statements, and W-2s. With an attorney’s assistance, it’s possible to collect the evidence to prove your damages and support your claim or lawsuit. The sooner you begin collecting this evidence, the easier it will be to build a strong case.

Non-Economic Damages

Compensation for non-economic damages or pain and suffering aims to compensate for subjective losses. While you may not always be able to regain the same quality of life as before, compensation can help you deal with the consequences.

Examples of non-economic damages are:

  • Chronic pain
  • Disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

You must support these damages with evidence as well. However, the type of evidence is different from what is used for economic losses. While you can provide medical bills and W-2 forms to back economic damages, for non-economic damages, you may need expert witness testimony and testimony from friends and family.

Women who had to undergo hysterectomy and lost the opportunity to give birth due to chemical-related uterine cancer may be able to collect sizable non-economic damages for those intangible losses.

Punitive Damages

The court may decide to award punitive damages in rare instances. This can happen if the defendant took particularly reckless or grossly negligent actions. These damages aim the defendant and deter similar behavior.

Wrongful Death Damages

If your loved one died from cancer caused by hair straighteners, you could recover damages through a wrongful death action.

These damages include:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Any costs related to the cancer treatment before death
  • Loss of emotional and financial support

You must provide evidence and demonstrate the manufacturer’s negligence to prove your right to recover wrongful death damages. Depending on the state you live in, you would also need to check if you are an eligible party to file for wrongful death damages.

For example, in Florida, only a personal representative of a decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can explain the nuances of wrongful death and guide you through the filing process.

Do I Qualify for a Hair Straightener Lawsuit?

Many people, especially women of color, may be eligible for filing a hair straightener lawsuit. To find out if you qualify, consult with an experienced products liability attorney.

While you prepare for your free initial consultation, ask yourself several questions:

  • Did I use one of the above-mentioned products?
  • When did I start using one of these products?
  • How often have I been using the product?
  • Did I use the product at home or go to a hairstylist?
  • Was I diagnosed with uterine cancer or any other type of cancer?
  • Do I have a family history of uterine, breast, or other cancer?
  • Do I have evidence of using these products?

Answers to these questions can help the attorney evaluate your eligibility. The number of hair straightening products that could cause cancer isn’t limited to the above list. If you’ve been using another hair straightener, you may be eligible.

You would also need evidence of using the product and proof of your medical condition or diagnosis. An attorney can help you identify the right evidence to strengthen your lawsuit.

How to File a Hair Straightener Lawsuit

If you believe that you may be eligible for a hair straightener lawsuit, consider contacting an attorney. Without legal assistance, the process can grow complicated and frustrating.

An experienced lawyer can:

  • Evaluate the eligibility of your case
  • Gather all relevant evidence
  • File all relevant documents on time
  • Represent your case in court if necessary
  • Negotiate a settlement when possible
  • Provide valuable advice and legal support throughout the lawsuit

Hair straightener-related cancer lawsuits are still fairly new. However, attorneys already have experience with similar cases. They can make sure you don’t make any errors and maximize your chances of getting the money you deserve.

Status of Hair Straightener Lawsuits

The first lawsuit against manufacturers of hair straightening products appeared several days after the National Institutes of Health released its study results. More and more people are filing new lawsuits across the country.

The status of hair straightener lawsuits is constantly changing. If you choose to work with an attorney, they can monitor the latest developments and act accordingly.

Since the study links hair straightening products to cancer, it’s imperative to check the ingredients of products you use in the future.

Hair Straightener Lawsuits: Settlements

The Chemicals Linked to Hair Straightener Cancer

When you file a hair straightener lawsuit, you can expect the process to go one of two ways:

  • Settlement. Your attorney negotiates a settlement with the defendant’s legal team.
  • Trial. Your case goes to trial, and the judge or jury decides how much money to award.

In both situations, you need an experienced attorney to work on your case. Negotiations with legal teams and presenting your case to the judge are complex processes that require considerable legal experience.

While the law allows you to represent yourself in such cases, the chances of achieving success without legal assistance are minimal.

When it comes to facing large cosmetics giants, such as L’Oréal, it’s always better to have legal help. These companies have large teams of lawyers that fight hard to minimize the financial obligation of the business.

Filing a Hair Straightener Lawsuit

The latest study linking hair straightening products to uterine cancer initiated a series of lawsuits across the country. Women are facing a higher risk of uterine and breast cancer from certain hair relaxants and deserve compensation for their harm.

If you think that you are a victim of these dangerous products, you may be eligible for compensation. Consult an experienced product liability attorney to learn more about your eligibility and your legal options. Don’t risk the compensation you deserve. Have a strong legal team in your corner.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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