Who Qualifies for the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

Who Qualifies for the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

For decades, many women have used hair relaxers and chemical straightening products to make their hair smoother and easier to style. These products contain dangerous chemicals like lye, phthalates, and others that may increase the risk of various health problems. Now, thousands are suing the companies that made these products for failing to warn about the risks.

What Are Hair Relaxers?

Hair relaxers are chemical products used to permanently straighten very curly or tightly coiled hair textures. They work by breaking down the hair's protein structure to relax or loosen the natural curl pattern.

Common active ingredients in relaxers include:

Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)

Sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye, is one of the most concerning ingredients found in many hair relaxer products. This corrosive chemical is extremely alkaline with a high pH, capable of stripping away and dissolving protein structures like keratin in the hair.

Hair Relaxers

Lye relaxers work by penetrating into the hair shaft and breaking apart the strong disulfide bonds that give hair its natural curl and shape. While effective at straightening, sodium hydroxide carries a high risk of chemical burns, permanent hair loss, and scalp scarring if used improperly or left on too long.

Numerous studies have also linked the frequent use of lye-based relaxers to an elevated risk of reproductive health issues like uterine fibroids, hormone disruption, and potentially even breast cancer development.

This increased risk may stem from lye's ability to generate systemic inflammation and enable endocrine-disrupting chemicals to more easily absorb into the body.

Lithium Hydroxide

While not as commonplace as sodium hydroxide lye, lithium hydroxide provides a slightly gentler alkaline alternative used in some modern hair relaxer formulations. Like other hydroxide compounds, lithium hydroxide still works by breaking down the hair's internal protein bonds to release curl and induce straightening.

However, lithium hydroxide relaxers may be slightly less damaging than lye products, causing less cuticle roughening, discoloration, dryness, and overall hair weakness. They also tend to generate less scalp irritation and chemical burn risk when used as directed.

That said, lithium hydroxide relaxers still utilize harsh, corrosive chemicals capable of disrupting the body's hormonal systems if absorbed into the bloodstream. They contain many of the same risky impurities like phthalates and carcinogens that have been linked to conditions like uterine fibroids, reproductive issues, and breast cancer in the current litigation.

Potassium Hydroxide

Like its sodium and lithium counterparts, potassium hydroxide is an alkaline hydroxide salt used for its strong curl-straightening and defrizzing capabilities in hair relaxer products. It achieves straightening through a similar mechanism of disrupting keratin protein bonds in the hair's cortex.

While less caustic than sodium hydroxide lye, potassium hydroxide relaxers can still pose a burn hazard if used improperly or combined with other chemical treatments like hair dyes or bleaches. 

Beyond hair and scalp impacts, potassium hydroxide is capable of being absorbed into the body and potentially interfering with normal hormone functions. Some research suggests it may exhibit endocrine-disrupting activity, mimicking or blocking key hormones involved in reproductive health, development, and more.

For this reason, frequent long-term exposure to potassium hydroxide relaxers is being investigated as a potential contributing factor to the proliferation of uterine fibroids, hormone imbalances, reproductive complications, and even breast cancer in some women, according to the claims in the current litigation.

Guanidine Hydroxide

Guanidine hydroxide has emerged as a newer generation hydroxide salt used in some no-lye relaxer product formulations. While less harsh than traditional lye relaxers, guanidine hydroxide is still an alkaline chemical that achieves straightening through a similar protein bond-breaking mechanism in the hair.

Hair relaxers products

While often marketed as gentler and more natural, guanidine hydroxide-based relaxers can still pose burn risks if misused or combined with other chemical treatments before completely rinsing out. They may have decreased potential for long-term cuticle damage compared to lye, but the straightening effects are still chemically achieved.

Like other alkaline hydroxide salts, guanidine hydroxide exhibits the potential to generate scalp irritation and enable other components like phthalates, parabens, and other impurities to absorb into the body and circulate systemically. Some studies indicate guanidine compounds may interfere with normal hormone activity and signaling in a similar endocrine-disrupting manner.

For these reasons, frequent and prolonged use of guanidine hydroxide relaxers over many years is being examined in the current litigation as a potential contributing factor to conditions like uterine fibroid development, infertility, hormone imbalances, and potentially breast cancer in some cases, according to the allegations.

These harsh alkali chemicals penetrate into the hair shaft, causing the inner protein bonds to break apart and the hair to straighten out. The relaxed hair is then rinsed, neutralized, and styled as desired.

Don't wait any longer, call 866-535-9515 or submit your case for review today!

The Health Concerns

While hair relaxers do straighten hair effectively, the chemicals in the products can be extremely harsh and damaging if used incorrectly or over long periods of time. Major health risks linked to frequent relaxer use include:

Hair Loss & Scalp Burns

The potent chemicals in hair relaxers are designed to break down the hair's protein structure. This can lead to hair loss and scalp injuries if used improperly. Leaving the relaxer on longer than the recommended time frame allows the alkaline chemicals to continue eating away at the hair strands and scalp.

Hair Loss

This burning process causes strands to snap off and the scalp to become inflamed, blistered, and raw. Red, oozing chemical burns and scabs can develop. Severe cases may lead to permanent hair loss and scarring on the scalp. Incorrectly mixing the relaxer with other products like colored hair dyes boosts this burning potential.

Another major risk factor is overlapping the fresh relaxer onto areas of previously chemically-treated hair. Since those sections have already been stripped of their protective protein layer, the new application essentially burns off those fragile, compromised strands.

Uterine Fibroids

Multiple studies over the past decade have revealed a potential link between prolonged use of hair relaxer products and an increased prevalence of uterine fibroids in women. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in the muscle tissue of the uterus.

In one study from the National Institutes of Health, frequent relaxer users faced up to a 6.5 times greater risk of developing fibroids compared to women who did not use the products. The more frequently and longer the relaxers were used, the greater the risk appeared to climb.

While the exact mechanisms aren't conclusive yet, many scientists believe the hormone-disrupting chemicals and phthalates in hair relaxers may stimulate abnormal fibroid growth.

The caustic chemicals may also generate reproductive tract irritation and scarring that enables fibroid tumors to take root. More research is still needed, but the correlation is concerning.

Hormone Disruption

Hair relaxers have been shown to contain a variety of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and impurities. These can interfere with the human body's normal hormone functions. Chief among the problematic ingredients are phthalates like dibutyl phthalate.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to increase flexibility in plastic products. They easily leach out of relaxer formulas and are absorbed through the scalp. Studies show these chemicals may block or mimic the body's natural hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

This hormone system disruption was linked to:

  • Reproductive issues
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Abnormal childhood development

It may also stimulate the development of hormone-driven conditions like uterine fibroids, breast cancer, and endometriosis, according to some research.

Higher Breast Cancer Risk

While more evidence is still needed, multiple studies over the past 20 years have hinted at a potential connection between prolonged use of chemical hair relaxers and a moderately increased breast cancer risk.

The exact causes aren't definitive, but scientists suspect the endocrine-disrupting chemicals and carcinogens found in many relaxer formulas may stimulate breast tumor development.

Phthalates, lye, formaldehyde, and other ingredients have demonstrated the ability to interact with hormones and encourage abnormal cell mutations in lab studies.

Who Can Join the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

To join the hair relaxer lawsuit, you must be:

  • A woman of any age (or the parent/guardian of a young woman)
  • Who frequently used chemical hair relaxers or straighteners
  • Over an extended period of several years
  • And suffered one or more of the following health issues:
    • Uterine fibroids
    • Uterine or ovarian cancer
    • Hormone imbalances/endocrine disruption
    • Breast cancer

If you fit these criteria, you may file a claim and receive compensation from the product manufacturers for failing to properly warn about the risks.

The Affected Products

Scalp Burns

Dozens of different brands of chemical hair relaxers and straightening products have been named in the lawsuits so far.

Some of the major products include:

  • Dark & Lovely
  • Motions
  • Organic Root Stimulator (ORS)
  • African Pride
  • Just For Me
  • TCB
  • Olive Oil Relaxers
  • Optimum

And relaxers made by larger companies like:

  • L'Oreal
  • Namaste
  • Strength of Nature Global
  • Revlon
  • Soft Sheen

If you frequently used any of these relaxer brands or similar chemical straighteners over many years, you may qualify for compensation if you developed related health issues.

What to Do Next

If this situation applies to you:

Gather Your Records and Documentation

If you believe you may have a case against the hair relaxer manufacturers, gather as much supporting evidence and documentation as possible. This paper trail will help demonstrate your longstanding exposure to these potentially harmful products and any related health impacts you may have suffered.

Collect any receipts, packaging, or marketing materials from the specific hair relaxer brands you used over the years. Look for dates, product names, ingredient lists, usage instructions, and any other identifying details.

Equally important are your medical records linking your condition to hair relaxer use. Obtain copies of test results, physician notes, imaging scans, biopsy reports, cancer diagnoses, and any other documents confirming your diagnosis of uterine fibroids, reproductive system issues, breast cancer, or other related conditions.

Request a summary letter from your treating doctor indicating:

  • The first date they became aware of your condition
  • The suspected causes or risk factors like relaxer use
  • The ongoing treatment plan

Personal testimonies from friends, family, and stylists who can attest to your longstanding relaxer habits can also provide helpful supporting evidence.

Stop Using Chemical Relaxers Immediately

If you have already suffered adverse health impacts potentially connected to chemical relaxer use, immediately stop applying these harsh products to prevent any further damage. Continuing exposure may worsen existing conditions or enable new complications to arise.

While it can be difficult to transition after years or even decades of chemically straightening your hair, put your health first. Explore gentler, more natural haircare methods that avoid caustic ingredients.

Protective styling techniques like braiding, wigs, wraps, and regular deep conditioning treatments can help during the outgrow phase. Gradually trimming off the remaining relaxed ends will enable your new, natural curl pattern to take over fully.

Certain plant-based serums, pre-shampoo treatments, and careful heat styling can also be used to help smooth and blend different curl patterns during the transition. With some time and patience, you can successfully restart your healthy, natural hair journey.

Speak to a Lawyer About Your Options

If you have documentation demonstrating frequent, long-term use of chemical hair relaxers and a related injury or illness like cancer, uterine fibroids, or endocrine disruption, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the product manufacturers.

But first consult an experienced product liability attorney about your case and legal options.

Many firms are providing free, confidential case evaluations to any suspected victims of relaxer-induced health issues. An initial consultation costs nothing and carries no obligation.

A lawyer will review your documentation and ask questions about:

  • Your relaxer exposure timelines
  • Diagnosed conditions
  • Medical expenses
  • Other damages you may have incurred

If they believe you have a valid claim, a lawyer can guide you through the process of joining the hair relaxer litigation with other victims.

Who Qualifies for the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

It's important to explore your legal avenues right away. Strict filing deadlines and statutes of limitation apply in these cases. An attorney can ensure you don't miss any cutoff dates for taking action against the negligent companies.

While no amount of compensation can undo your health struggles, holding these manufacturers accountable can provide a sense of justice and acknowledgment of the harms they failed to warn about. It may also prompt industry reform and protect the health of future generations.

You deserve justice if companies fail to warn about the dangers of their products. By coming forward, you can hold them accountable and spread awareness to protect others.

If you or a loved one frequently used chemical hair relaxers and later experienced health complications like fibroids, hormone issues, or cancer, you are urged to contact a product liability lawyer right away.

An experienced attorney can review your situation at no cost and let you know if you may have a valid case for a hair relaxer lawsuit. Don't wait - strict filing deadlines apply in these cases. You may be entitled to significant compensation, but only by taking legal action against the manufacturers.

Speak to a lawyer today about joining the hair relaxer litigation. Your hair shouldn't cost you your health.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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