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Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
There are literally thousands of beauty products at beauty retail stores that are designed to change and improve your appearance in some way. When you can essentially pay $20 for a product that helps you fall within industry beauty standards, you may not think much further about its potentially dangerous effects on your health.
The truth is that many beauty products contain dozens of dangerous chemicals that can not only lead to surface level problems – such as hair loss and skin conditions – but can also lead to serious health complications such as cancer as well. In a new hair relaxer lawsuit, hundreds of women are coming forward claiming that their history of using hair relaxers contributed to their diagnoses of uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cancer. One of the biggest companies included in this lawsuit is L’Oréal – a hair care line popular among consumers, influencers, and celebrities alike. Below, our Atlanta legal team discusses how hair relaxers can cause cancer as well as the latest news on hair relaxer cancer lawsuits across the U.S.
If you have recently been diagnosed with uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, or ovarian cancer after using hair relaxers, you may have grounds to file a hair relaxer lawsuit. Sandy Springs product liability lawyers at Ashenden & Associates have the skill and experience necessary to help you obtain justice and compensation for your suffering. Call 770-394-8909 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.
What is a Hair Relaxer?
A hair relaxer is a common type of cream or lotion that’s used to literally “relax” tight curls and straighten the hair by changing its chemical structure. Some hair relaxers are meant to make the hair straightening process easier with flat irons and blow dryers, while others are meant to semi-permanently straighten the hair with harsh chemicals. Chemical hair relaxers are commonly used by African American women because they generally have tight curls.
How Do Hair Relaxers Work?
Chemical hair relaxers work by changing the protein structure of the hair after applying it to the scalp and letting it “marinate.” Changing the structure of the hair proteins results in straighter, smoother hair.
Similarly to other types of hair treatments, chemical hair relaxing treatment needs to be done every 4 to 8 weeks to keep the hair straight. That’s because the naturally curly roots will grow out during this time frame. Many women use chemical hair relaxers every couple of months for decades.
While most women receive the results they want from hair relaxers, others report experiencing consistent hair breakage and even an allergic reaction on the scalp.
Common Chemicals in Hair Relaxers
There are two main types of chemical hair relaxer products: lye-containing and no lye-containing. The main difference between the two types is that the former contains sodium hydroxide and the latter contains guanidine, lithium, potassium, and/or calcium hydroxide. Many women find that hair relaxer products manufactured with sodium hydroxide cause scalp irritation and sensitivity.
Firstly, let’s discuss the basics of the endocrine system and hormones. The endocrine system is a group of glands (such as the thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, etc.) in the body that produce hormones. Hormones basically tell certain organs what to do, and when to do it. Growth, development, metabolism, mood, sex drive, reproduction, and more are all controlled by hormones.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals – also frequently called endocrine disruptors or hormonally active agents – are chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system. Endocrine disruptors can be found nearly everywhere: in the air, water, soil, food, and even beauty products. The endocrine disrupters in hair products are often disguised as fragrances and perfumes, and they enter the body through the scalp and hair follicles.
Calcium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, and other endocrine disrupting chemicals can mimic naturally-occurring hormones in the body, increase or decrease natural hormone levels, or even block natural hormones from doing what they’re supposed to do. Prolonged exposure to harmful chemicals in hair products can result in a wide variety of medical conditions, such as cancer, permanent infertility, endometriosis, metabolic dysfunction, poor nervous system function, poor immune system function, cardiopulmonary issues, diabetes, obesity, and so much more.
Another problem with chemical relaxers are the phthalates that many of them contain. Phthalates – also known as “plasticizers” – are chemicals that improve the flexibility and durability of plastics. These harmful chemicals are in many types of beauty products, including chemical straighteners.
The phthalate that’s referenced in many recent chemical hair straightener lawsuits is Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), which is considered to be a “probable human carcinogen” by the CDC. This means that while medical and scientific experts have found sufficient evidence to suggest that the chemical can cause cancer in humans, the evidence is not conclusive.
Risks of Using Hair Relaxers
Aside from the possible cancer risk, defendants in hair relaxer lawsuits have suffered damaged and compromised hair from consistent use of these hair products. Some defendants have suffered hair loss, bald spots, brittle hair, allergic reactions on the scalp, and generally damaged hair.
Do Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer?
As stated previously, the harmful chemicals used in chemical hair relaxers are considered either endocrine disruptors or possible carcinogens. This means that prolonged exposure to these chemicals can lead to an increased risk of cancer according to a recent study published in October 2022. Uterine cancer and ovarian cancer are the main types of cancers mentioned in hair relaxer lawsuits.
The Link to Uterine Cancer
Uterine cancer is cancer of the uterus. About 66,000 American women are diagnosed with this type of cancer and approximately 13,000 die from it every year according to the American Cancer Society. Uterine cancer mostly affects postmenopausal women over the age of 60. Additionally, Black women are more likely to develop and die from this type of cancer compared to White women.
There are two main types of uterine cancer: endometrial and sarcoma. Endometrial cancer is the more common type, and it’s generally easier to treat.
Using chemical hair relaxers definitely raises the individual risk of developing uterine cancer according to the October 2022 study linked above. More specifically, women who frequently used chemical hair relaxers were about 2.5 times more likely to develop uterine cancer compared to those who didn’t use hair relaxers.
The Link to Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is cancer found in the ovaries. Nearly 20,000 American women receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis while more than 13,000 die from this cancer every year according to the American Cancer Society. This type of cancer is most common in women over the age of 63. Additionally, White women are more likely to suffer from this cancer compared to Black women.
The October 2022 study mentioned above states that using chemical hair relaxers more than 4 times per year can raise the risk of developing ovarian cancer by about 50%.
The Latest on the Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit – February 2023
The main types of hair products and cosmetic companies referenced in the latest hair relaxer cancer cases are:
- Dark & Lovely and Ultra Sheen by L’Oréal
- ORS Olive Oil Hair Relaxer by Namaste, LLC
- Just for Me by Strength of Nature Global/Godrej Consumer Products
- Motions by Strength of Nature Global/Godrej Consumer Products
- Cantu Shea Butter Relaxer by Cantu Beauty
- Optimum Salon Haircare, Defy Breakage No-Lye Relaxer by SoftSheen Carson LLC
Hair relaxer litigation began in November 2022. Nine hair relaxer cases were filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) with the request that all the cases could consolidate into a singular class action lawsuit. More than a dozen women claimed that the hair relaxer products from the aforementioned cosmetic companies caused numerous health issues, such as chemical burns on the scalp as well as uterine cancer.
In December 2022, a new hair relaxer lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Georgia claimed that the hair products led to the development of uterine fibroids. The plaintiff in question developed the fibroids at the young age of 22, and suffered extreme pain until she had them surgically removed. 8 years after her surgery, she developed uterine fibroids again.
As of February 2023, dozens more hair relaxer lawsuits had been filed, so the JPML Panel finally approved a hair relaxer class action lawsuit. This means that anyone who has used the aforementioned hair relaxers – and suffered major health conditions such as cancer or uterine fibroids – can join the class action lawsuit. If all goes well, all plaintiffs can receive a portion of the settlement. The class action lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Mary Rowland in Chicago, Illinois.
Product Liability Damages
The current hair relaxer lawsuit is considered a product liability lawsuit, because the cosmetic companies used dangerous chemicals in their products and failed to warn consumers about these chemicals. Consumers can file a product liability lawsuit for just about any defective product, including car parts, children’s toys, beauty products, food products, medical devices, and more.
Plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits can recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitative bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental health counseling bills
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses, if the defective product causes wrongful death
It’s important to note that seeking compensation via a class action lawsuit is different from seeking compensation through an individual product liability lawsuit. In the class action hair straightener lawsuits, plaintiffs likely won’t receive the exact amount of compensation they suffered from their medical conditions. Instead (if the class action lawsuit is successful), the cosmetic companies will provide a large settlement which will then be broken up evenly among all the plaintiffs.
Call Sandy Springs Product Liability Lawyers at Ashenden & Associates Today
If you have suffered from uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, or ovarian cancer after using chemical hair relaxer products, you may have grounds to file an ovarian or uterine cancer lawsuit. Sandy Springs product liability lawyers at Ashenden & Associates have what it takes to vigorously defend clients whose health is declining due to defective and dangerous beauty products. Call our law firm at 770-394-8909 to schedule a free consultation with us today.