CHEMICAL HAIR RELAXER LAWSUIT WHITEPAPER
About Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
Chemical hair relaxer lawsuits citing ovarian cancer and other injuries are rapidly expanding. For decades, the chemical hair relaxer industry has thrived, selling these products to women with curly hair or afros. Many women generally begin using hair relaxers at a young age and continue into adulthood, applying these products multiple times a year.
Hair relaxers contain chemical agents that break down disulfide bonds, which are responsible for maintaining keratin molecules. Therefore, consumers can smoothen and straighten their hair through these hair care products.
Dangerous Chemicals in Hair Relaxers
Hair straighteners contain Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). These chemicals interfere with the body’s endocrine or hormonal systems. Disrupting these hormonal processes can lead to reproductive, neurological, developmental, and metabolic issues.
Phthalates are a type of EDC in hair relaxers that are often incorporated into products to make plastics flexible. In hair relaxers, phthalates are a gelling agent that preserves the product’s scent and makes the hair more pliable. One particularly hazardous phthalate found in many popular hair relaxers is Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). The EPA has labeled DEHP as a probable human carcinogen.
Other potentially harmful additives in hair relaxers include lye (sodium hydroxide) and formaldehyde.
Chemical Hair Relaxer Injuries
Injuries reported in chemical hair relaxer claims include:
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Uterine fibroids
The scientific evidence and data on hair relaxer injuries are continuously progressing. As more information becomes available, we will continue to update this page.
Key Studies in Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
On October 17, 2022, a National Institutes of Health Study (NIH) found that women who used chemical hair straightening products were at higher risk for uterine cancer compared to women who did not use these products. The study followed 33,497 U.S. women ages 35-74 for 11 years. Women who reported frequent use of hair straighteners (defined as more than four times a year) were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer.
Manufacturers in Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
Prominent hair care manufacturers and brands are mired in hair relaxer litigation. Defendants in chemical hair relaxer lawsuits are:
- Dabur USA Inc.
- Carson, Inc.
- Strength of Nature Global, LLC
- Namaste Laboratories, LLC
Products named in chemical hair relaxer claims include:
- Dark and Lovely
- Optimum Care Relaxer
- Soft and Beautiful
- Motions Hair Relaxer
- TCB Naturals Relaxer Creme
- Just for Me Hair Relaxer
- ORS Olive Oil (Organic Root Stimulator)
Chemical Hair Relaxers Marketing
Lawsuits allege that manufacturers specifically targeted certain demographics in their marketing of chemical hair straighteners. The NIH study noted that approximately 60% of the participants who reported using hair relaxers were Black women.
Plaintiffs argue that hair relaxer manufacturers’ marketing schemes reinforce Eurocentric beauty standards and promote straight hair over afros or curly hair. Also, lawsuits argue that product boxes typically depict Black women on the covers with straightened hair to influence Black women’s decision to relax their hair to “fit in.”
Status of Chemical Hair Relaxer Litigation
The first chemical hair relaxer lawsuit was submitted on October 21, 2022, with several other complaints filed shortly afterward.
Plaintiffs motioned to centralize federal chemical hair relaxer lawsuits in November 2022. At the time of the request, nine cases were filed on behalf of thirteen plaintiffs in four different districts.
On February 6, 2023, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated chemical hair relaxer claims into MDL -3060 IN RE: Hair Relaxer Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation. The JPML transferred cases to the Northern District of Illinois before the Honorable Mary M. Rowland.
While the defendants opposed centralization, the JPML ruled the claims share common questions of fact arising from allegations that the defendants’ hair relaxer products contain phthalates, including Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate or other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Furthermore, lawsuits allege using such products caused or increased the risk of developing uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or other injuries to the reproductive system.
As of February 2023, 21 chemical hair relaxer claims are pending under MDL-3060.
Chemical Hair Relaxers Settlement and Verdicts
We are still in the early phases of this litigation. Therefore, there are no chemical hair relaxers verdicts or settlements currently.