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Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Tied to Cancer: Are You at Risk?

by | May 22, 2024 | Product liability

Are you tired of dealing with frizzy and coiled hair? If so, you might have turned to chemical hair relaxers, hoping for a smooth and straight look. But don’t forget that these chemical hair relaxers can leave you with burns, hair loss, and even worse.

In this blog, we dive deep into hair relaxer lawsuits and how to fight back if you have been a victim.

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What Exactly is a Hair Relaxer?

Hair relaxers are cream or lotion-based chemical products that are used to straighten hair by relaxing the curls. When the curls are relaxed, the hair can be styled into various straight hairstyles. Hair relaxers are commonly used by black women. Millions of American women have used hair relaxers since the 1900s.

The different types of hair relaxers are categorized by the active agents used to break the chemical bonds in the hair.

Types of hair relaxers include the following:

Lye relaxers: It’s otherwise called sodium hydroxide (NaOH) relaxers. NaOH is the most powerful compound found in many popular hair relaxers. These relaxers are commonly used on curly or wavy hair.

No lye relaxers: These relaxers are harsher on the hair compared to lye relaxers and can cause your hair to dry out quickly. Products labeled “no lye” still contain other damaging hydroxides such as calcium hydroxide, guanidine carbonate, and lithium hydroxide, which are associated with hair loss and scalp burns.

Thio relaxers: It is not suitable for coarse or coily hair. These relaxers are mild and least effective in straightening the hair and have increased pH levels. This relaxer contains ammonium thioglycolate, which is used in hair perms.

How does Hair Relaxer Work?

The basic ingredients used to relax your hair are actually far more alkaline, not acidic, than the dyeing agents employed, which are already acidic (pH level 9–10). Hair relaxers involve very alkaline solutions with a pH level of 12-14. The high pH helps open hair cuticles, so the relaxing agents can go deep inside the hair. The active agents like thio, lye, and no-lye relaxers, target and weaken the naturally robust disulfide bonds that give hair its shape.

Consider the health risks posed by chemicals powerful enough to attack and disrupt disulfide bonds by 40%-50%.

Is hair relaxer bad for your hair? Of course. All chemical-contained products can damage your hair.

Long-Term Effects of Hair Relaxers

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, frequent complaints related to the use of chemical hair relaxers include hair loss, hair thinning, dandruff, frizzy hair, and hair breakage.

Long-term use of hair relaxers can cause:

  • Uterine cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

Prolonged use of these products has been scientifically linked to severe health consequences, including breast cancer. Long-term hair relaxer use can have catastrophic side effects and may prompt some people to file a hair relaxer lawsuit.

It is important to seek medical attention if you have suffered from chemical hair relaxer side effects.

Studies Find a Link between Hair Relaxers and Cancer Risk

The connection between the use of chemical hair straighteners and the risk of cancer became widely recognized after multiple studies by NIEHS.

A Black Women’s Health Study (2012) investigated the link between the utilization of hair relaxers and the risk of uterine leiomyomata (fibroids) in premenopausal black women from 1997 to 2009. The study found that women who used hair relaxers were more likely to develop uterine fibroids compared to those who never used them.

A 2019 study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) published in the International Journal of Cancer discovered that women who have used chemical hair relaxers more than 6 times annually experience around a 30% increased risk of breast cancer.

An Oxford University journal study in 2021 identified that regular and long-term use of lye-based relaxer products can cause breast cancer in black women.

The Black women’s Health Study in the USA aimed to explore the link between the use of hair relaxers and breast cancer in black women. The study followed 50,543 women and recorded 2,311 cases of breast cancer.

The study identified that heavy use of lye-containing hair relaxers carries some risk of developing Estrogen Receptor Positive (ER+) breast cancer.

You might be able to claim hair relaxer breast cancer lawsuit if you or a loved one used hair straightening products and after you diagnosed with breast cancer.

A 2023 study conducted on 44,798 black women over a period from 1997 to 2019 investigated the link between chemical hair relaxer use and uterine cancer risk. Among postmenopausal women, heavy use of relaxers was associated with a 1.64 times higher risk of uterine cancer compared to those who never or infrequently used them.

Additionally, moderate use and long-term use showed increased risk. However, no significant association was found among premenopausal women.

These findings suggest that long-term use of chemical hair relaxers may increase uterine cancer risk in postmenopausal black women, indicating a potential modifiable risk factor.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute study in 2022 aimed to identify the link between hair relaxers and uterine cancer in 33,947 women aged 35-74. The study finds that women who use hair relaxers have a higher chance of developing uterine cancer.

The study also indicated that women who utilized chemical hair relaxers more than 4 times per year had double the risk of uterine cancer compared to women who abstained from using these products.

Approximately 60% of participants who reported using chemical straighteners were black women.

Although the study didn’t pinpoint the specific products or ingredients responsible for the elevated risk, it suggested that consistent exposure to chemicals in hair relaxers and straighteners could be the underlying cause.

As a result of these studies, many women came forward and began to file hair relaxer lawsuits.

Several chemicals were identified that could increase the risk of uterine cancer in women, including:

  • Parabens
  • Bisphenol A
  • Various metals
  • Formaldehyde
  • Di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP)
  • Cyclosiloxanes

Hair Relaxer Hysterectomy Lawsuit

The first lawsuit against hair relaxer was filed on October 21, 2022 by a Missouri resident who was diagnosed with uterine cancer. This lawsuit was initiated after the 2022 NIEHS study, which found a link between hair relaxers and uterine cancer.

Following this lawsuit, the number of hair relaxer lawsuits increased and were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation. People continued to file hair straightener cancer lawsuits with the MDL. Separately, a hair straightener class action lawsuit targeting various hair relaxer manufacturers also began.

While an MDL addresses compensation for diseases linked to long-term hair relaxer usage and retains the individual status of each plaintiff, a class action lawsuit represents a collective of injured parties and seeks compensation for the purchase of these harmful chemical hair relaxers.

In November 2022, an application to consolidate the multiple hair relaxer lawsuits into an MDL was submitted to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. This led to the establishment of MDL 3060, titled IN RE: Hair, Relaxer Marketing, Sales Practices, and Product Liability Litigation, presided over by a District Judge in Chicago, Illinois.

Mitchell’s diagnosis of uterine cancer in August 2018 is attributed to the use of products from the defendants. Starting around the age of 10, Mitchell had been using these hair relaxers until March 2022. After the cancer diagnosis, she had to undergo a full hysterectomy.

A hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure that involves the partial or complete removal of the uterus. People who undergo a hysterectomy due to the use of chemical hair relaxers can file a hair relaxer hysterectomy lawsuit.

If you have developed uterine cancer due to the use of chemical hair relaxers, you could face financial burdens from medical treatments and lost wages. Medical expenses might include diagnostic tests, chemotherapy, radiation, hospital stays, and surgery.

Recovery from uterine cancer is often lengthy and may require substantial time off from work. Following a hysterectomy, for example, you may need six to eight weeks for recovery, impacting your ability to work and earn income.

Additional treatments, like radiation and chemotherapy, may extend this period of work absence further. This time away from work can lead to a loss of income. Discuss these costs with your attorney to ensure they are fully accounted for in your legal claim.

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Defendants of the Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit

Some of the defendants on the hair products lawsuit list include:

L’Oreal USA

  • SoftSheen Carson
  • Optimum
  • Dark & Lovely
  • Mizani

Dabur International (Namaste Laboratories)

  • ORS Olive Oil Relaxer

Strength of Nature Global

  • Motions
  • Just for Me
  • African pride
  • Soft and beautiful
  • TCB naturals


  • Crème of Nature
  • All ways natural relaxer
  • Fabulaxer
  • French Perm
  • Revlon Realistic
  • Revlon Professional
  • Herba Rich

Avalon Industries

  • Affirm

Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Updates

Updates in 2023 

In February 2023, the JPML decided to combine all federal cases concerning hair relaxer product liability into a single class-action MDL. This new consolidated action is allocated to Judge Mary Rowland in the Northern District of Illinois.

As of October 16, 2023, there are 5,996 cases currently pending in the hair relaxer Multi-District Litigation (MDL). Given the current rate of progress, it appears that the volume of cases will continue to grow.

Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update 2024

January 2024 Update on Relaxer Lawsuit

The initial bellwether trial is set for November 3, 2025, followed by a second trial on February 2, 2026. Bellwether trials in MDL cases create urgency for defendants to settle, provide early compensation opportunities for victims, and significantly influence settlement negotiations based on trial outcomes.

Urekata Grinston filed a Personal Injury – Other Product Liability lawsuit on January 31, 2024, against defendants L’Oreal USA, Inc. and L’Oreal USA Products, Inc. The case is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

February 2024 Update on Relaxer Lawsuit

In January 2024, 191 new cases were added to the hair relaxer class action MDL. Now, there are a total of 8,217 cases waiting to be resolved in the MDL.

May 2024 Updates

As of May 1, 2024, approximately 8,468 active lawsuits are pending in hair relaxer MDL-3060 in the Northern district of Illinois.

Eligibility to file Hair relaxer lawsuits

Brands that produce chemical hair straighteners can be held liable for any health issues, such as cancer, caused by their products. Those affected may be entitled to compensation and may also have the option to initiate a class-action lawsuit to represent all impacted individuals.

To file a chemical hair straightener lawsuit against the manufacturer, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have used a chemical hair relaxer regularly, which includes using the product a minimum of four times per year.
  • You should have been diagnosed with either uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer.

Working with a hair relaxer attorney will help you prove that your cancer diagnosis resulted from the company’s failure to provide safe products. Medical record reviews play a crucial role in establishing the case. LezDo TechMed, a medical record review company primarily serves for attorneys across the U.S.

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The hair relaxer lawsuit settlement amounts have varied depending on the severity of your damages.


In the hair relaxer class action lawsuit, it’s evident that the use of hair relaxer chemicals has become a notable legal concern. The hair relaxer lawsuit reveals that the quest for beauty can sometimes come at a high cost, especially when harmful chemicals are involved. The focus of the lawsuit is on the chemicals in hair relaxers that cause severe health issues. If you’re using a hair relaxer that puts your health at risk, it’s not worth it. Always prioritize your well-being over aesthetics.

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