Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Sandy Fazili, Esq.
The Hair Relaxer Lawsuit is an active lawsuit
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Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

Hair relaxers are hair treatments (usually in the form of cream or lotion) that are used by people with natural curls to straighten their hair. Millions of Americans use hair relaxer products on a regular basis.

However, a recent study found a link between the use of hair relaxers and the likeliness of developing uterine cancer. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only study that pointed to the potential risks of using hair relaxers. A 2021 study found a correlation between the use of hair relaxers and breast cancer in Black women.

As customers were becoming aware of the risk associated with hair relaxers, chemical relaxer sales to hair professionals and salons dropped from $71m in 2011 to $30m in 2021, according to market research from the Kline Group.

People who have used hair relaxer treatments for extended periods of time and later been diagnosed with cancer are filing product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers. If you used hair relaxer products and developed cancer, you may be able to file a hair relaxer lawsuit and seek compensation. Get in touch with our team at King Law to get your case evaluated.

Latest News on Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

June 1, 2023: Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Seminar with Lovely Warren and Robert King

King law has teamed up with Lovely Warren for an educational session for our local community. Studies show that use of hair relaxer causes increased risk of cancer in women. Our local community is still uneducated on the risks of hair relaxer use. This live session will discuss the dangers of the products known to contain chemicals that cause cancer and next steps for those concerned about hair relaxer use. Individuals experiencing serious health issues such as Uterine Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, and Endometrial Cancer from the use of hair relaxer may wish to join the multi-district class action lawsuit currently pending in federal court.

The event will be held on June 20, 2023, at 5:30pm at Urban Euphoria located at 35 S Washington St, Rochester, NY 14608. Listen to the radio ad featuring Lovely Warren below.


>>> Read Past Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Updates Here

Table of Contents:

What Is a Hair Relaxer and What Does It Do?

As mentioned previously, hair relaxers are treatments and at-home products used to straighten naturally curly or textured hair. These products are commonly used by Black and Latina women.

Hair relaxers work by penetrating the cuticle and the cortex layers of the hair shaft to loosen and eventually straighten the natural curl pattern. They break the disulfide bonds in the cortex layer and reform them while hair is fixed in a straight pattern. This permanently straightens the hair. A hair relaxer treatment is basically a reverse perm.

The active agent in modern products is usually a strong alkali, though some brands use formaldehyde or ammonium thioglycolate.

The use of hair relaxers is associated with mild to serious side effects. Some of them are scalp-level: burns, scabbing, dandruff, scalp irritation, rashes, hair loss, hair thinning, and premature appearance of grey hair. Some affect the hair: split ends, breakage, frizz, knots, and trouble detangling.

Serious side effects include cancers and other serious diseases.

International studies have found links between hair relaxers and several types of cancer, specifically hormone-sensitive cancers (such as ovarian cancer and breast cancer) and uterine cancer.

A 2022 study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that frequent use of chemical hair relaxers may double the risk of uterine cancer. The study which was published in October, was performed in the US and spanned 11 years and followed 33,947 racially diverse women, aged 35 to 74. During that time, 378 women developed uterine cancer. The study established that the rate of uterine cancer went up to 4.05 per cent in women who used hair relaxers four or more times a year, compared to 1.64 per cent in those who never used the products.

Tamara James-Todd of Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that hair straightening products that some Black women use on a daily basis, contain parabens, phthalates, and other chemicals that are known to be endocrine disruptors. Phthalates, for example, have been linked to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Endocrine disruptors increase the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers.

2021 Oxford University Carcinogenesis Journal study found that continuous use of hair-relaxing products could lead to breast cancer due to the fact that they contain estrogens.

In 2019, a study was published in the International Journal of Cancer that suggested that the use of permanent hair straighteners, as well as permanent hair dyes, increases the risk of breast cancer. Studies highlight that extended use of these products is particularly dangerous.

It is important to note that cosmetic products, apart from color additives, do not require FDA approval before they enter the market, which means it’s up to the consumers to do their own research and figure out if products or ingredients can be harmful to their health.

If you continuously used hair straightening products and were later diagnosed with cancer or another serious medical condition, you should consult a hair relaxer lawyer. Our team at King Law can help you evaluate your evidence and file a hair relaxer lawsuit. Give us a call and see if you are eligible for a chemical hair relaxer lawsuit.

Types of Chemical Hair Treatments: Hair Relaxers and Hair Straighteners

There are types of hair relaxers available on the market. There are variations with different strengths for different curl types.

Ammonium thioglycolate relaxers, sometimes referred to as “Thio” have a thick and creamy consistency and are said to be easy to apply. They have a pH value of at least 10 to ensure that the disulfide bonds can be broken (and that, consequently, the hair can be straightened). The relaxer is applied to the hair, and then in about 10 minutes it is rinsed out with water and a neutraliser is applied to bring the hair back to its original pH of 4.5 – 5.5.

The second type is lye relaxers. Lye is an alkali. It’s conventional name is sodium hydroxide or caustic soda. However, often lye is actually a mixture of sodium hydroxide, petroleum jelly, mineral oil, emulsifiers, and water. Lye is absorbed by hair proteins. It works by weakening the bonds rather than breaking them. The amount of lye in hair relaxers varies between brands, weaker products can minimise damage to the scalp. Lye relaxers usually have a pH of 12-14 and don’t require neutralizing. If lye relaxers are left on for too long they can cause chemical burns, permanent injury or scarring. It is recommended to use protective gloves when applying lye-containing products.

Increasing awareness of the side effects of lye resulted in the development of no-lye relaxers. Their mode of action is similar to that of the lye-based relaxer, but the sodium hydroxide is replaced with potassium, lithium or guanidine hydroxides. No-lye relaxers tend to be gentler on the scalp. However, chemical straightening still damages the hair.

Once the hair is relaxed using one of the relaxer types, it is permanently straightened. But as the hair continues to grow, the roots will grow in their natural texture. This means the relaxing process will need to be repeated. However, as we mentioned above, continuous use of relaxers can cause serious health problems.

List of Chemicals in Hair Relaxers

Hair relaxers contain various chemicals. Some of them are potentially dangerous to humans.

Almost all hair relaxers contain chemicals known as phthalates. They are known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs.

EDCs are types of chemicals that affect the endocrine (hormonal) system. Hair relaxers often contain a phthalate chemical called Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate or DEHP. DEHP is known to cause cancer and birth defects.

Lye relaxers contain sodium hydroxide. Exposure to very high concentrations of sodium hydroxide can cause burns to the eyes and skin. Prolonged or repeated skin contact may result in dermatitis. Repeated inhalation of sodium hydroxide vapor can lead to permanent lung damage. However, it would be fair to point out that the amount of lye in hair relaxers is most likely to result in scalp damage, specifically, irritation or burns.

Ammonium thioglycolate side effects include sensitivity dermatitis of scalp or hands, with edema, erythema, subcutaneous lesions, burning of skin, papular rash and itching.

Formaldehyde may cause sensitive individuals to experience adverse effects such as watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation. Long-term side effects of formaldehyde are less known.

Other common ingredients in hair relaxers are hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl compounds, and phosphoric acid. Natural relaxer products usually contain cocoa butter, coconut oil or olive oil, but they are not as strong as their chemical counterparts.

Chemical Hair Relaxer Side Effects

Continuous use of chemical hair relaxers can cause adverse side effects. The longer you’ve been exposed to the chemicals, the more likely they are to have caused damage.

The severity of side effects varies from person to person, and some don’t experience any side effects.

The most common chemical hair relaxer side effects include damage to the hair and skin (primarily the scalp and forehead). Ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide can damage the hair cuticle and cause breakage. It can also be very irritating to the scalp and lead to dandruff, hair loss and scalp dermatitis.

Many hair relaxers contain parabens, most often butylparaben, methylparaben, isobutylparaben, and ethylparaben. These parabens disrupt the endocrine system and can cause endometriosis.

Sodium hydroxide, or lye, is a potential carcinogen. Regular exposure has been known to cause severe burns.

If you can’t refrain from using a hair relaxer, make sure to read the label carefully and learn about the ingredients. Ideally, visit a specialist at a reputable salon, it will help you avoid burns and irritation associated with incorrect handling and application.

Hair Relaxing Products and Manufacturers

Many commonly used hair relaxers were found to contain dangerous chemicals. Amongs them – products of such well-known brands as L’Oreal, Revlon, The following products have been named in hair relaxer lawsuits to date:

African Pride

  • Olive Miracle Deep Conditioning Relaxer
  • Olive Miracle Deep Conditioning No-Lye Relaxer
  • Olive Miracle Anti-breakage No-Lye Relaxer
  • Olive Miracle Dream Kids Relaxer
  • Olive Miracle Touch Up No-Lye Relaxer

Africa’s Best

  • Herbal Intensive Dual Conditioning Relaxer
  • Originals Olive Oil No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer
  • Touch-Up Plus Moisturizing No-Lye New Growth Relaxer

Crème of Nature

  • Argan Oil Relaxer

Isoplus, J.M. Products 

  • No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer

Just For Me

  • No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer
  • No-Lye Conditioning Texture Softener

Mizani, L’Oreal

  • Sensitive Scalp Rhelaxer
  • Butter Blend Sensitive Scalp Rhelaxer


  • Classic Formula Relaxer
  • Regular Relaxer
  • Silkening Shine No-Lye Relaxer
  • Smooth & Silken Relaxer

Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil

  • No Base Relaxer
  • No-Lye Relaxer
  • New Growth Relaxer
  • Girls Hair Relaxer
  • Zone Relaxer
  • Professional Crème Relaxer
  • Mild Touch Relaxer

Profectiv MegaGrowth

  • No-Lye Regular Relaxer
  • No-Lye Super Relaxer


  • Conditioning Crème Relaxer

SoftSheen Carson (SSC), L’Oreal

  • Precise No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer Supreme
  • Precise No-Lye Original Relaxer
  • No Base Relaxer
  • Multi Mineral Reduced Ph Creme Relaxer
  • Optimum Smooth Multi-Mineral Creme Hair Relaxer
  • Multi-Mineral Reduced Ph Crème Relaxer
  • Salon Collection Hair Relaxer Super Strength – Optimum Salon Haircare
  • Salon Collection Relaxer Regular Strength – Optimum Salon Haircare

SSC Dark and Lovely, L’Oreal

  • Moisturizing Relaxer with Shea Butter
  • Triple Nourished Silkening Relaxer
  • Beautiful Beginnings Kids No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Crème Relaxer
  • Healthy Gloss Shea Moisture No-Lye Relaxer

Silk Elements, Sally Beauty 

  • MegaSilk Shea Butter Relaxer
  • Luxury Moisturizing Shea Butter Relaxer

Soft & Beautiful

  • Botanicals Regular Texturizer
  • No-Lye Regular Texturizer
  • No Lye Sensitive Scalp Relaxer

TCB Naturals

  • Conditioning No-Lye Hair Relaxer
  • No Base Crème Hair Relaxer

Hair Relaxer Settlement and Payout Amounts

Chemical relaxer compensation can either be received through a settlement or a trial verdict. A hair relaxer settlement amount will depend on a variety of factors, and it’s impossible to predict exactly how much it will be, if granted. The factors that will be taken into consideration include:

  • The severity of injuries developed following the use of hair relaxers/Diagnosis
  • Whether the disease/injuries prevent you from working
  • Cost of medical bills
  • Other damages, like loss of employment due to illness, loss of quality of life,  transportation costs, legal costs, and more

Some speculate that a hair relaxer case may lead to a settlement between $400,000 and $1.5 million, depending on the severity of the disease and accompanying factors. People who developed cancer are likely to receive higher settlements than people who suffered from local burns, but it is important to state that each individual case is different.

It is important to have good legal representation to ensure you are compensated fairly in a hair relaxer lawsuit. At King Law we will evaluate your case and walk you through the next steps.

How to File a Hair Relaxer Claim

Before filing a hair relaxer claim, gather the following information:

  • Brand and product name of the chemical hair relaxer that you used
  • How long/how many times you used it
  • Your diagnosis, date of diagnosis and any supporting evidence, such as medical records and bills

Once you’ve gathered the information, contact an experienced lawyer and they will guide you through the process. At King Law our hair relaxer attorneys will carefully evaluate your claim and tell you if you meet the eligibility criteria to file a chemical relaxer lawsuit.


May 2023

May 23, 2023: Short Form Complaint – An Important Document Filed in Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

On May 15, 2023 the Plaintiff’s filed a “Master Short-Form Complaint” in the Northern District of Illinois Federal Court. A “complaint” is typically used to designate the venue (where the case will be heard), identify the parties, state the factual allegations and legal claims, and propose the relief sought. The “Long-Form” complaint is usually a very detailed document that can be dozens or even hundreds of pages long. The “Short-Form” complaint is a simplified version designed to provide an concise overview of the plaintiff’s claims and basis for the lawsuit. Lawyers for each individual involved in the hair relaxer cancer lawsuit will file a short-form complaint in the Northern District of Illinois federal court. In the short form complaint filed here, the main injuries alleged to be caused by hair relaxer’s include uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer.

May 1, 2023: Attorney Robert King Discusses Hair Relaxer Lawsuits on WDKX Radio

Attorney Robert King was recently interviewed on WDKX 103.9 about Hair Relaxer Lawsuits. Attorney King discusses the background and recent studies about how hair relaxer products can cause cancers such as uterine, ovarian, and endometriosis. Listen to the hair relaxer lawsuit interview below:


April 2023
April 23, 2023: Campaigners Call for Cosmetics Giant L’Oréal to Pull It’s Hair Relaxer Products Amid Growing Lawsuits

A group of campaigners led by the European organization, Level Up, is calling on cosmetics company L’Oréal to withdraw its hair-straightening products, which are primarily used by black women, following research that links them to an increased risk of cancer. In light of growing lawsuits, in an open letter, the coalition of politicians, campaigners, and professionals including Labour MP Dawn Butler, Women’s Equality party leader Mandu Reid, and leading #MeToo campaigner Prof Marai Larasi, also asked L’Oréal to invest in research into the long-term use of chemical relaxers. A 2022 study by the US National Institutes of Health found that women who used hair straighteners containing lye several times a year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer. A 2021 study published in Oxford University’s Carcinogenesis journal found links between heavy use of lye-containing relaxers and breast cancer. L’Oréal has denied any links to cancer and stated that its products are safe. However, over 100 lawsuits claiming that hair relaxer products sold by L’Oréal and other companies cause cancer and other health problems have been consolidated in a Chicago federal court. L’Oréal has stated that these lawsuits have no legal merit.

April 19, 2023: Status Conference Held in Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

Over 100 lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. against the makers of popular hair straighteners, contending that women were not properly warned about the link between hair relaxer use and various types of cancer. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all hair relaxer lawsuits into a MDL and appointed U.S. District Judge Mary M. Rowland to oversee the proceedings. The parties involved discussed important topics related to the litigation during a status conference on April 18, 2023, including how to handle issues of causation as claims link hair relaxer chemicals to different types of cancer and adverse health effects. In the lawsuits, defendants have requested that the court consider general causation first, while plaintiffs are opposed this approach, which they believe will delay the process. The parties have proposed filing briefs outlining their arguments if an agreement cannot be reached. The parties also discussed how to coordinate hair relaxer lawsuits filed in state and federal courts and scheduling future case management conferences. Judge Rowland is expected to establish a bellwether (test trial) process where representative hair relaxer injury lawsuits will discuss case-specific discovery and be prepared for early trial dates. The outcomes of these trials are expected to have a significant impact on the settlement offers made by manufacturers to avoid each case going to trial. If no settlements are reached, each claim may be returned back to the U.S. District Court for trial. Those closely involved in the lawsuits expect hundreds if not thousands of additional cases to be filed in near future.

March 2023
March 7, 2023: Legal Battle Heats Up: Second Status Conference Convenes for Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

On March 2nd Judge Mary M. Rowland of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held the first status conference with all parties in the new hair relaxer class action multi-district litigation (MDL) against L’Oreal and other manufacturers of hair relaxer products marketed primarily to Black and Latin women.

Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann and Ben Crump were appointed Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel in a multidistrict lawsuit against L’Oréal and other makers of hair relaxer products marketed primarily to Black and Latin women, alleging that such products are directly linked to uterine and ovarian cancer.

Zimmermann and Crump were the first lawyers to file a mass tort Hair Relaxer lawsuit last October on behalf of women who have developed or are at greater risk of developing uterine cancer and other cancers from their use of chemical hair straightening products.

February 2023
February 8, 2023: Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Consolidated in Federal Court

At least 57 lawsuits against hair relaxer manufacturers are now being consolidated in a Chicago federal court. The lawsuits claim that the hair straightening products use chemicals that pose a serious danger to customers’ health, and that the companies were aware of it.

February 6, 2023: Class Action Lasuit for Hair Relaxer Gets Green Light

The hair straightener class action lawsuit was given the green light by the JPML Panel.

November 2022
November 25, 2022: New Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Filed

A new hair relaxer lawsuit – Gamble v. Strength of Nature Global, LLC, et al. was recently filed against L’Oreal in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The plaintiff, Keaira Gamble, was diagnosed with uterine fibroids at age 22. The fibroids caused her extreme pain, and she underwent myomectomy surgery to remove them in 2011. In 2019, Gamble developed uterine fibroids again.

Gamble’s lawyer claims that the fibroids were caused by continuous exposure to chemicals in hair relaxer products. This is the first filed hair relaxer lawsuit alleging injuries other than uterine cancer.

November 15, 2022: Lawyers Request Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Be Consolidated

Personal injury and product liability lawyers representing a group of plaintiffs who filed hair relaxer cancer lawsuits filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) requesting consolidation of the hair relaxer lawsuits into a class action MDL.

October 2022

October 27, 2022: Amid Lawsuits L’Oréal Defends its Hair Relaxer Products Linked to Cancer in Women

In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesman for L’Oréal, the largest cosmetics company in the world, that owns the SoftSheen Carson hair relaxer brand, shared that the company is “confident in the safety of our products and believe the recent lawsuits filed against us have no legal merit.” “L’Oréal upholds the highest standards of safety for all its products,” the spokesman continued. “Our products are subject to a rigorous scientific evaluation of their safety by experts who also ensure that we follow strictly all regulations in every market in which we operate.”

October 18, 2022: L’Oréal Faces Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

Jenny Mitchell, a 32-year-old American woman, filed a civil lawsuit against L’Oreal and other companies claiming that the use of their hair-straightening products led her to develop uterine cancer and subsequently undergo a full hysterectomy (surgery to remove her uterus). She had been using the products for over 2 decades. Mitchell received her diagnosis while seeking fertility treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which hair relaxers cause cancer?
Recent studies show that extended use of lye-based relaxers could lead to cancer. No-lye relaxer also contain chemicals that have be linked to serious health conditions.
Is there a lawsuit against hair relaxer?
Yes, a hair relaxer class action lawsuit has been approved. L’Oréal USA, Inc. (and  L’Oréal USA Products, Inc.), SoftSheen-Carson LLC, Strength of Nature Global, LLC (Motions and Just for Me brands) and Namaste Laboratories, LLC are amongst the companies being sued.
Are hair relaxers linked to cancer?
Studies suggest that women who regularly use chemical hair relaxers may have a higher risk of developing uterine or breast cancer.
Who qualifies for a hair relaxer lawsuit?
To qualify for the hair relaxer lawsuit you need to have used chemical hair relaxer products and have been diagnosed with cancer (uterine, breast or another type of cancer) or another serious disease.
Are hair relaxers safe?
While chemical relaxers are popular among people with natural hair, they can cause severe side effects. The side effect range from dandruff and hair loss to endometriosis and cancer. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no permanent hair straightening product on the market that is completely free of chemicals.
Does hair relaxer cause fibroids?
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a potential link between hair relaxers and uterine fibroids in African American women.
How much money is the hair relaxer lawsuit?
It is difficult to predict an outcome of a lawsuit without knowing the details of a particular situation. There is speculation that chemical relaxer settlement may reach $1.5-$1.75 million. Some sources suggest that an average payout will be around $300.000. However, the amount you get if the lawsuit is successful will depend on a number of factors.
Is hair relaxer dangerous?
The short answer is yes. Scientific research has found that some of the common hair relaxer ingredients can lead to serious medical conditions. Additionally, relaxers are known to cause scalp and hair damage. If you’re not careful with application (or if you apply them to damaged skin), they can cause irritation severe burns. Several lawsuits have been filed due to the dangers.
How do I file a hair relaxer claim?
You should start by gathering evidence and contacting a hair relaxer lawyer.
Do no-lye relaxers cause cancer?
No-lye relaxers still contain harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde, parabens and phthalates, that have been linked to cancers. Many victims have already filed lawsuits alleging these Hair Relaxer products cause cancer.
Can relaxers cause brain cancer?
Hair relaxers have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive cancers.
Can relaxers cause breast cancer?
Frequent use of hair relaxers can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Do no-lye relaxers cause uterine cancer?
Unfortunately, no-lye hair relaxers still contain harmful ingredients, some of which have been linked to cancers such as uterine cancer and are the subject of Hair Relaxer lawsuits.
What chemicals in relaxers cause cancer?
Lye and phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors are contained in Hair Relaxer’s and are associated with hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Do hair relaxers cause endometriosis?
Di(2- ethylhexyl) phthalate, also knows as DEHP, contained in Hair Relaxer’s may increase the risk of endometriosis. Many people who have been diagnosed with endometriosis have filed lawsuits alleging the hair relaxer products contain dangerous chemical’s and caused their cancer.
Can hair relaxer cause a miscarriage?
Formaldehyde contained in hair relaxing products can increase the risk of miscarriage.