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Protecting Yourself from Harmful Chemicals: Alternatives to Chemical Hair Straighteners

Mass Torts

Chemical hair straighteners present health risks, including more than doubling users’ risk of developing uterine cancer. As more information about these risks becomes known, more women are looking for better and safer alternatives. Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives out there, and avoiding chemical hair straighteners is simply a matter of finding the alternative that works best for you.

Why Is It Important to Consider Alternatives to Chemical Hair Straighteners?

In October 2022, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), released the findings of an 11-year study that followed women who used chemical hair straighteners at least four times per year (defined as “frequent” use). The findings were alarming: Among women who made frequent use of chemical hair straighteners, their risk of developing uterine cancer by age 70 increased from 1.64 percent to 4.05 percent. This means that they are approximately 2.5 times more likely to develop uterine cancer as a result of using chemical hair straightening products.

What Are Some Alternatives to Chemical Hair Straighteners?

Due to this increased cancer risk, many women are now seeking alternatives to chemical hair straighteners. The good news is that there are several safer alternatives that are just as effective as, if not more effective than, chemical relaxers. Some examples of these alternatives include:

1. Blow Drying with Cold Air

According to Healthline, blow drying with cold air is an alternative way to straighten your hair. “After you’ve let your hair air-dry about three-quarters of the way, divide your hair into sections as you normally would. Use the ‘cool’ setting on your blow-dryer, making sure that your blow-dryer is moving continuously from root to tip [and k]eep the blow-dryer about six inches away from your hair.”

2. Wrapping Your Hair

“Hair wrapping is one of the more popular ways to get straight hair without heat styling,” according to Healthline. This method requires roller pins and a satin scarf or turban. Healthline explains: “To wrap hair, separate the top section where you part your hair and use a fine-toothed comb to comb it out flat. Holding hair taut, bring the hair around to the opposite side of your head from where it naturally falls and pin it tightly to the side of your head. . . . repeat this method for each section of your hair.”

3. Using Chemical-Free Hair Straightening Products

There are several hair straightening products that are alternatives to relaxers containing cancer-causing chemicals. Healthline writes, “There are shampoos, conditioners, leave-in conditioning products, hairsprays, and just about everything else you can think of that are aimed at calming and relaxing your hair.” Smoothing serums and keratin-based spray-on conditioners are options as well.

4. Sleeping With Your Hair Wet

For a product-free option, Healthline advises sleeping with your hair wet: “Use a hairband to tie a loose ponytail at the top of your head, then create a bun shape by wrapping your hair around that ponytail and securing it with another hair tie.” If you try this option, consider investing in a satin pillowcase, as “[t]his will cut down on friction . . . giving your hair a straighter appearance once you let it loose in the morning.”

5. Using a Hair Mask

A hair mask is a combination of non-chemical ingredients that work together to smooth and straighten your hair. As Healthline notes, there are several DIY options that use natural ingredients you can find in your kitchen (or in the grocery store, if necessary).

6. Using Essential Oils

Healthline also notes that “[s]ome essential oils are more readily absorbed into your hair than chemical products. These include coconut oil, argan oil, almond oil, and macadamia oil, among others. “Once you’ve used rollers, wrapping, a cold blow-dry or another technique to style your hair, apply your essential oil of choice. . . . Not only does this add a sweet scent and a beautiful gloss to your hair, it will also weigh your hair down slightly, helping it to hold its style.”

7. Using an Electric Straightening Iron

You can also use an electric straightening iron (or flat iron) to straighten your hair without chemicals or other hair care products. Although as using a flat iron can damage your hair over time, you may want to combine this option with a product that re-strengthens your hair.

Importantly, as Healthline advises, while using these methods can help “train” your hair to fall straighter over time, “overdoing it can actually lead to hair loss or damage.” As a result, it is important to “[b]e realistic with how you envision your hairstyle looking, and be kind to yourself, too — curly, natural hair has a distinct beauty that many people appreciate.”

What If It’s Already Too Late?

While there are alternative hair straightening methods available, many women have already spent years relaxing their curls with chemical hair straighteners. If you have used a chemical hair straightener in the past, what should you do?

  • Stop using chemical hair straightening products. Due to the increased risk of developing uterine cancer, we are recommending that women not use chemical hair straighteners.
  • Learn about the symptoms of uterine cancer. If you have used chemical hair straighteners in the past, you should learn about the symptoms of uterine cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor promptly.
  • Talk to a lawyer about your legal rights. If you have developed uterine cancer after using a chemical hair straightener, you may be entitled to just compensation. Your first step toward asserting your legal rights is to speak with a lawyer.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation About Your Legal Rights

Our lawyers represent women and families who are coping with the effects of uterine cancer (and other cancers) caused by chemical hair straighteners. If you have questions about your legal rights, we invite you to get in touch—you may be able to join a pending mass tort lawsuit. For a free consultation about your legal rights, call us at 800-780-8607 or request an appointment online today.

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