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Harmful Chemicals in Hair Straighteners and Relaxers May Cause Cancer

2 min read

A recent study by the National Institute of Health found that certain chemical hair straighteners and relaxers were linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer. In the study, participants were twice as likely to develop this rare form of cancer if they used chemical hair relaxers and straighteners at least four times a year. Litigation has been filed against several major corporations that sell chemical relaxers and straighteners, stating that the products are made with materials hazardous to women’s health. Here’s what you need to know about this mass tort lawsuit and what you can do if you’ve been diagnosed with uterine cancer after using chemical hair straighteners.

Concerning Chemicals

While the study didn’t specify particular types of chemicals in straighteners and relaxers that were linked to the increased cancer risk, some common ingredients could cause health problems, including:


Formaldehyde is an odorless gas that can be dangerous if inhaled. It’s one of the chemicals generally used that helps break down the protein bonds in the hair. While formaldehyde sometimes occurs naturally in the body and environmentally, it has been linked to increased cancer risks.


Often used as a gelling and fragrance agent in some hair products, phthalates may cause side effects such as infertility, increased risk of breast or liver cancer, and hormone disruption. Phthalates don’t need to be listed on product ingredient lists, so identifying products with them is challenging.

Thioglycolic acid

This acid is commonly used in chemical hair straighteners, relaxers, and perms. It can irritate hair and the scalp in some rare cases.


Also known as sodium hydroxide, Lye is used in some chemical hair straightening products. If misused, it could damage hair and cause chemical burns.

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Uterine cancer describes several types of rare cancers that develop in a woman’s uterus. Although uterine cancer has a high survival rate, it can cause life-long side effects, such as early menopause, removal of ovaries, infertility, depression, and anxiety.

Women Affected

Women affected by this particular lawsuit regarding chemical hair relaxers and straighteners are those between the ages of 35 and 74 diagnosed with uterine cancer within ten years of using chemical straightening products frequently. According to the study, “frequently” is classified as at least four times in one year. The study discussed that women of color are at an increased risk, as 60% of those included in the study who frequently used chemical hair straighteners were black.

Brands Included in the Lawsuit

Any hair product brand that used chemicals such as formaldehyde or phthalates could be part of the lawsuit. These brands include, but are not limited to:

  • Dabur International
  • Dark & Lovely
  • Just for Me
  • L’Oreal
  • Motions
  • Namaste
  • Olive Oil Girls
  • Optimum
  • Soft & Beautiful
  • Soft Sheen/Carson
  • Strength of Nature Global

Litigation Requirements for Uterine Cancer Claims

A mass tort lawsuit was filed in October 2022 by a Missouri woman against hair product brands like L’Oreal, claiming hazardous materials in chemical hair straighteners caused her to be diagnosed with uterine cancer. You may be entitled to compensation if you used chemical hair straighteners and relaxers and were diagnosed with uterine cancer at least one year after use. To qualify, you must be BRCA negative and have used chemical hair straightening products with formaldehyde or phthalates at least four times a year for two years. There must be a one-year difference between your first chemical hair straightener use and diagnosis.

Lawsuit Update —February 2023

There have been more than 25 cases filed in districts across the US with hair product companies such as L’Oreal named as the defendant. The number of cases grows each day. Experts in the industry estimate that there could be over 100,000 potential cases, making it one of the largest class-action lawsuits in American history. This past month, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation gave an order to consolidate hair straightener lawsuits into a Multidistrict Litigation class-action lawsuit. The class-action lawsuit will be heard in the Northern District of Illinois and is assigned to Judge Mary Rowland, with 60 pending cases from across the US. Judge Rowland was appointed as a full district court judge in 2019 with bipartisan support during her confirmation, which is a great step forward in this case.

Our team at the Michael Brady Lynch Law Firm is taking on clients who developed uterine cancer after using chemical hair straightening products. Call our office at 888-585-5970 to see if you have a valid claim in this mass tort case.

Date: Feb 28, 2023

Author: Brandon Salter

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