Frequently asked questions about hair relaxer, cancer, and lawsuits

Hair Relaxer, Cancer, and Lawsuits

Questions About a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

Finding reliable answers to your questions about something as important as a hair relaxer lawsuit isn’t easy. The stakes are high. Putting your trust in the wrong information could cause you to miss your opportunity to pursue the financial compensation you’re entitled to. For guidance you can count on, turn to a hair relaxer lawyer at Team Law. 

Is the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Real?

Yes, the ongoing hair relaxer lawsuit is a real and legitimate legal action. Under this litigation, several thousands of American consumers, many of them Black women, are seeking financial compensation for injuries related to cancer and other serious conditions from the manufacturers of chemical hair straightening products. 

Hair relaxer lawsuits filed by plaintiffs across the county have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). An MDL is different from a class action lawsuit, although both involve claims for compensation filed by a large number of plaintiffs against the same defendant or group of defendants. 

Under the hair relaxer multidistrict litigation (MDL 3060) filed in 2023, the pre-trial discovery proceedings for all hair relaxer lawsuits that have been consolidated into the MDL will be overseen by one federal judge, Judge Mary M. Rowland. Consolidating this phase of litigation streamlines the process of bringing this large volume of cases to resolution by allowing evidence to be shared, plaintiffs’ resources pooled, and a single judge familiar with the facts of the case to preside over discovery. 

This judge will select certain cases for Bellwether trials. The outcome of these trials will serve as a guide for resolving the rest of the claims included in the MDL through settlement or trial, but it doesn’t directly resolve all cases. Each lawsuit included in the MDL remains its own separate legal matter. Resolving individual lawsuits that have been consolidated into an MDL requires a focus on each plaintiff’s unique damages. 

Has Anyone Received a Settlement From the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit? 

As the current hair relaxer MDL is still in progress, none of the cases that have been consolidated into this litigation have been settled at this time. However, thousands of lawsuits are currently pending as part of the hair relaxer MDL. 

Do Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer? 

The basis of the hair relaxer lawsuit claims is the allegation, backed by research, that chemical hair straightening products are associated with increased risks of serious conditions, such as cancer. 

Do Hair Relaxers Cause Uterine Cancer?

Uterine cancer, particularly a type of uterine cancer called endometrial cancer, is linked to the use of hair relaxers. A 2023 study by researchers at Boston University found that Black women who used chemical hair relaxers long-term (either more than twice per year or over more than five years) reported an increase in uterine cancer risk of more than 50% compared to women who never or rarely used these products. 

Are Hair Relaxers Linked to Ovarian Cancer? 

The evidence connecting chemical hair straighteners to an increase in the risk of ovarian cancer includes a research study published in the journal Carcinogenesis in 2021. The researchers behind this study concluded that the use of hair relaxers upwards of four times per year raised women’s risk of ovarian cancer. 

Can Hair Relaxer Cause Breast Cancer?

Existing research findings most strongly support links between hair relaxer use and uterine cancer. However, some studies, such as those published in the International Journal of Cancer, have also established a link between chemical hair straightener use and increased risk of breast cancer. 

How Do Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer?

Hair relaxers are thought to cause cancer through chemical exposure. When applying these chemicals to your own hair or having them applied to your hair in a salon, you may be exposed to chemicals through the following routes: 

  • Through the skin, especially if the application resulted in scalp burns or lesions
  • Through inhalation of fumes 
  • Through your hair follicles

The chemicals in hair relaxers that are most commonly blamed for causing cancer in the uterus and ovaries are endocrine-disrupting-chemicals (EDCs). These chemicals can disrupt the normal function of hormones in the body, which is thought to increase the risk of developing these hormone-sensitive cancers. 

The known or suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been identified in hair relaxers include:

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Cyclosiloxanes
  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)
  • Formaldehyde

This isn’t an exhaustive list of potentially dangerous chemicals that may be found in hair relaxer products. One research study published in Environmental Research identified 45 chemicals in hair products used by Black women that were classified as either endocrine-disrupting or asthma-associated chemicals. 

Some of these same chemicals have been reported in other products, such as perm kits used to add curl, wave, or body to hair. Some studies, including one that produced findings published in a 2022 article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, have suggested that the chemicals used in perms and body waves don’t appear to be associated with the higher incident uterine cancer rates that chemical straightening products are. However, further research may establish whether these chemicals, too, pose serious safety risks and, if so, whether consumers may be able to pursue future perm lawsuit claims. 

What Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer?

The list of chemical straightening products currently recognized as potentially causing cancer under the hair relaxer MDL encompasses more than 100 individual products made by more than a dozen manufacturers, including popular product lines such as the following: 

  • Hawaiian Silky and Vitale hair relaxers by AFAM Concept, Inc. d/b/a JF Labs, Inc.
  • Affirm hair relaxers by Avlon Industries 
  • Africa’s Best and Texture My Way hair relaxers by Beauty Bell Enterprises LLC f/k/a House of Cheatham, Inc. 
  • Dark and Lovely, Optimum Salon, and Mizani products by L’Oréal USA, Inc., L’Oréal USA Products, Inc., and SoftSheen-Carson LLC
  • Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer, PCJ, and ShortLooks Colorlaxer hair relaxers by Luster Products Company
  • Design Essentials products by McBride Research Laboratories
  • ORS Olive Oil and Namasté Salon System hair relaxers by Namaste Laboratories
  • African Pride, Crème Of Nature, and Fabulaxer hair relaxer products by Revlon, Inc., Revlon Consumer Products Corporation, and Revlon Group Holdings LLC
  • Dr. Miracle’s, Elasta QP, Motions, Profectiv, SmartPerm, Just for Me, and S&B® Botanicals relaxers by Strength of Nature, LLC

If you developed cancer, uterine fibroids, or another injury that has been linked to hair relaxers after using chemical straightening products, it’s worth speaking to an attorney at no cost to find out whether you may qualify for a claim. 

When Will the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Be Settled?

This complex litigation involves several thousand plaintiffs, more than a dozen defendants, and over 100 products associated with harm, so it’s no surprise that such complicated cases will take time to resolve. Although existing cases have been consolidated into an MDL (and additional hair relaxer cancer lawsuits are still being filed), the final selection of Bellwether cases may not occur until the summer of 2024, and the trials may not be conducted until well into 2025 or later. 

All told, it may still be a matter of years—one, two, or potentially even more—before cases involved in the current hair relaxer MDL have settled or been resolved in court. 

How Do You Qualify for a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

If you’re interested in moving forward with a hair relaxer lawsuit claim, you need to meet the following criteria and speak with a knowledgeable attorney: 

  • A history of use of chemical hair straightening products 
  • A diagnosis of a condition associated with exposure to chemicals in hair relaxers, such as endometrial cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, or uterine fibroids 

If you believe you may be eligible to join the hair relaxer MDL, your next step should be to speak to a seasoned products liability attorney. 

Contact Our Trusted Hair Relaxer Lawyers Today for a Complimentary Case Review

The consequences of cancer and other harm associated with the use of chemical hair relaxers can be life-changing and life-threatening. If you are going through this ordeal, you deserve to get answers, hold accountable the manufacturers of products that exposed you to dangerous chemicals, and pursue any monetary damages you’re entitled to for your losses. 

A free consultation with a hair relaxer lawyer at Team Law can help you understand the litigation process and determine whether and how you can move forward with a claim for financial compensation. Our attorneys have a long history of success fighting for people injured by dangerous or defective products, and we will draw upon this experience to assist you, starting with a free case evaluation. 
Contact us today to get started.

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