Chemical hair relaxants may cause uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
Shouse Law Group is suing the companies that make hair straightening products on behalf of victims who developed either
- uterine cancer,
- ovarian cancer,
- uterine fibroids with surgical intervention or anticipated surgery, or
- endometriosis with intervention or anticipated intervention
after being exposed to hair relaxants at least four times in one year.
We are pursuing the highest financial settlement possible under the law.
In this article, our personal injury attorneys discuss:
- 1. Do hair straightening products cause cancer?
- 2. Which hair straighteners can cause cancer?
- 3. Has there been a recall?
- 4. What is the status of the litigation?
- 5. How much money can I win?
- 6. What is uterine cancer?
- 7. What is ovarian cancer?
- 8. What are uterine fibroids?
- 9. What is endometriosis?
- 10. How can an attorney help me?
1. Do hair straightening products cause cancer?
A recent study shows that a woman’s risk of developing uterine cancer by age 70 is doubled when they use hair straightening products more than four times in the prior year.1
Hair straightening products comprise:
- hair relaxers
- Brazilian blowouts
Many hair straighteners contain such industrial chemicals as:
- phthalates (plasticizers),
- bisphenol A, and
The most toxic phthalate in hair straightening products is the endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) DHEP (DI-2-Ethylhexylphthalate, or DEHP), a gelling agent that helps preserve fragrance.2
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has classified DEHP as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”3 The European Union and Canada outright banned DEHP in cosmetic products.4
In California, DEHP is on the Proposition 65 list of “Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity.” As of 2025, the use of DHEP in cosmetics will be completely outlawed in California.5
Chemical relaxers can cause lesions and burns on the scalp, making it easier for these dangerous chemicals to then be absorbed into the body.
Once in the body, it can cause chromosomal aberration and DNA damage. Since DEHP disrupts hormones such as estrogen, it can lead to estrogen-dependent cancers like ovarian cancer.6
2. Which hair straighteners can cause cancer?
The study did not specify which brands of chemical relaxers the women in the study used, just that the straighteners contain “formaldehyde-releasing chemicals” that disrupt hormones and may in turn cause uterine cancer or ovarian cancer.7
Five brands that are currently being sued for selling hair relaxants that cause uterine cancer are:
- L’Oreal USA Products Inc./Soft Sheen/Carson Inc., maker of Optimum and Dark & Lovely
- Strength of Nature Global LLC/Godrej Son Holdings, Inc., maker of Just for Me (targeted to children), Motions, Soft and Beautiful, TCB, TCB Naturals, and African Pride
- Soft Sheen Carson (W.I.) Inc. (associated with L’Oreal), maker of Dark & Lovely
- Dabur International Ltd. and Dabur USA Inc., maker of ORS Olive Oil
- Namaste Laboratories, maker of ORS Olive Oil.
Other brands/companies facing lawsuits include:
- Revlon, Inc., maker of Crème of Nature
- Eastman Chemical Company, which may manufacture DEHP
- IHS Chemical
- JF Labs, Inc./AFAM Concept, Inc., maker of Hawaiian Silky8
3. Has there been a recall?
So far, the FDA has not recalled any hair straightening products that may be linked to uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, fibroids or endometriosis.
4. What is the status of the litigation?
The litigation against the companies that manufacture hair straightening products is very new. We are suing on such claims as:
- defective design – for creating a product that is inherently dangerous;
- failure to warn – for not including a warning label on the product packaging disclosing the cancer risks;
- false advertising – for giving the impression that the products are safe by saying “lye-free” on the box when in fact they contained other harmful chemicals; and
- negligence – for breaching the manufacturer’s duty to customers to sell safe products.
Since there will likely be tens of thousands of plaintiffs from all over the U.S., all these individual lawsuits will probably be consolidated into a federal multi-district litigation (MDL) to expedite the litigation and settlement process.
5. How much money can I win?
Our attorneys will be fighting to compensate you for all your:
- medical bills for chemo, radiation, surgery, home health care, and other related expenses,
- past and future lost wages from being too ill to work, and
- pain and suffering, which is often the largest expense – especially if the cancer treatments left you unable to have children.
If you had a family member who died of uterine cancer from using hair relaxants, we can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in pursuit of the above damages as well as funeral expenses.
We will also be fighting for punitive damages to punish the defendants for their greed. Hair care is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the defendants got rich peddling harmful products to women, many of whom are women of color.
6. What is uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer is cancer of a woman’s uterus. Most uterine cancer develops in the endometrium (the uterus’s inner lining), also called endometrial cancer. A rare type of uterine cancer called uterine sarcoma develops in the myometrium (muscle wall of the uterus).
Potential symptoms of uterine cancer may include:
- very heavy, protracted or frequent vaginal bleeding if you are over 40 years old,
- bleeding between periods or post-menopause,
- cramps in the lower abdominal area, or
- post-menopausal vaginal discharge.
Your physician can test for uterine cancer by ordering:
- blood tests that measure the CA-125 protein,
- CT scans, MRIs, and/or transvaginal ultrasounds,
- a biopsy,
- a hysteroscopy, and/or
- a D&C (dilation and curettage).
(Pap smears do not detect uterine cancer.)
The survival rate for uterine cancer is very good if it is detected and treated before it spreads. In some cases, the best way to treat uterine cancer is to get a full hysterectomy – the removal of your uterus – which leaves you unable to get pregnant.9
7. What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is one of the most serious cancers because it is often not detected until it has spread. Symptoms may include:
- pelvic discomfort
- urinary frequency
Ovarian tumors may show up in imaging, but in some cases surgery is the only way to diagnose ovarian cancer. Treatments include
- hormone therapy
Ovarian cancer is typically classified into serous and non-serous. The survival rate for stage 4 ovarian cancer is low, usually 15%.10
8. What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus. Many cause no problems, but some women experience
- heavy periods
- pelvic pain
- urinary frequency
Fibroids can be detected in an ultrasound. In serious cases, women may need treatment through an abdominal myomectomy/fibroidectomy or a hysterectomy.11
9. What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when tissue grows outside your uterus. Symptoms include:
- excessive bleeding and painful periods
- painful sexual intercourse
- pain with using the bathroom
Endometriosis can be diagnosed through
- an MRI,
- an ultrasound, and/or
- a laparoscopy.
Extreme cases may require surgery, including possibly a hysterectomy.12
10. How can an attorney help me?
Our hair straightener lawsuit attorneys will:
- obtain all of your medical records;
- handle the entire legal process from start to finish; and
- pursue the biggest monetary payout possible under the law.
If possible, you should compile proof that you used hair straightening products (either at the salon or over-the-counter) in the form of:
- Salon records
No amount of money can make up for getting cancer, especially if it left you unable to have children. So we make the hair relaxant manufacturers apologize in the only way they can – with their wallet.
We do not get paid unless we win your lawsuit, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
- Che-Jung Chang, Alexandra White et. al., Use of Straighteners and Other Hair Products on Incident Uterine Cancer, Journal of the National Cancer Institute (October 17, 2022)(“In this large, prospective cohort study, we observed that straightening product use was positively associated with uterine cancer.”). Jacqueline Howard, Hair-straightening chemical products linked to increased uterine cancer risk in new study, CNN (October 18, 2022). See also Cicely A. Richard, The History of Hair Relaxers, Classroom.com (Septemer 29, 2017); Thandisizwe Chimurenga, How Toxic is Black Hair Care? The Final Call (February 8, 2012). Some chemicals that these products contained in the past include lye (sodium hydroxide), guanidine carbonate succinic Acid, formaldehyde, and placenta protein.
- Amanda Su and Sabina Ghebremedhin, Woman sues 5 companies alleging their chemical hair-straightening products caused her uterine cancer, ABC (October 24, 2022). Dana Rebik, Lawsuit against L’Oreal and 4 other cosmetic companies, alleges chemical hair straighteners can cause uterine cancer, WGN9 (October 24, 2022). Chemicals in Hair Straightening Products Background Document, Department of Toxic Substances Control Safer Consumer Products Program (May 24, 2021). Paula L. Johnson, et. al., Chemicals of Concern in Personal Care Products Used by Women of Color in in Three Communities in California, Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology (November, 2022). See note 2. T.M. Crisp, et. al., Environmental endocrine disruption: an effects assessment and analysis, Environ Health Perspect (February, 1998). Alexandra White, et. al., Use of hair products in relation to ovarian cancer risk, Carcinogenesis (June 6, 2021)(“Frequent use (>4 times/year) of straighteners was strongly associated with ovarian cancer, compared to never use[.]”).
- ToxFAQs™ for Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry/CDC.
- Regulation (EC) No1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of30 November 2009 on cosmetic products. Phthalates, Government of Canada
- California Toxic-Free Cosmetic Act (AB 2762-Muratsuchi). Proposition 65 List (some of the prohibited chemicals include diethylhexylphthalate, formaldehyde, methylene glycol, isobutylparaben, and isopropylparaben).
- See note 1.
- See note 1.
- See note 2.
- Uterine Cancer, Cleveland Clinic.
- Ovarian Cancer, Cancer Research UK.
- Uterine Fibroids, Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Endometriosis, Johns Hopkins Medicine.