14 Aug 2023

Discovery Process Beginning for Hair Straightener Lawsuit

Numerous lawsuits have been filed recently against L’Oreal and other beauty product companies for not providing warnings about the potentially harmful effects of their hair straightener products. Allegations claim that the chemicals used in the products led to women developing uterine cancer at a younger age.

Products Labeled Natural and Safe Failed to Provide Warnings

Complaints continue to be filed against these companies for their hair straightening products. Allegations claim that hair straighteners were advertised as natural, using terms like “organic” and “botanicals”, which led consumers to believe they weren’t harmful. Studies have indicated the possible link between these products and uterine cancer, along with endometrial and ovarian cancer. Many of the women are younger, some just in their 20s and 30s. They often must undergo chemotherapy and radiation, with some women having hysterectomies, which prevent them from having children in the future.

In July, the beauty products companies asked the judge to dismiss the complaint. They claim that their hair relaxers don’t cause cancer or other health problems. However, a study by the National Institutes of Health released a report in October of 2022 that indicated women who used hair straighteners and relaxers at least four times in a year had twice the risk of developing uterine cancer. The study includes nearly 34,000 women between the ages of 35 and 74.

These products contain different types of chemicals, such as formaldehyde, parabens, and bisphenol A. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic, which means they increase the risk of cancer at certain levels. Some of the chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which means they disrupt the normal behavior of the hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that control much of the body’s reproductive systems.

Multiple Lawsuits Against Multiple Beauty Companies

Many of the plaintiffs are African American women who began straightening their hair when they were nine or ten years old. They continued to straighten their hair on a regular basis for years. For some of them, they never knew anything was wrong until they had difficulty conceiving a child or showed other symptoms.

The defendants for the claims include some big names in the beauty industry:

  • L’Oreal
  • Namaste
  • McBride Research Laboratories
  • Beauty Bell Enterprises
  • Sally Beauty Holdings
  • Luster Products
  • SoftSheen-Carson
  • AFAM Concept
  • And others

The majority of the plaintiffs are Black women with many more expected to file lawsuits in the coming months. Filing of the lawsuits is based on several factors, such as defective design, which means the product is inherently dangerous because it contains carcinogenic chemicals. Failure to warn includes not including a warning label on the product’s packaging, which would disclose the risk of cancer. False advertising gives the impression that these products are safe, especially through the choice of wording used, such as “natural” and “safe.” They also stated “lye-free” which implies they are safe when the products contain other chemicals. Negligence is the other claim because the manufacturers are failing in their duty to their customers to sell products that are safe.

The lawsuits are being combined into a multi-district litigation (MDL), which is based out of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. An MDL expedites the settlement process by combining multiple lawsuits that are similar in nature into one case. To find out if you qualify for including in these lawsuits, you can contact Pulaski Kherkher for a free consultation.