Why Are So Many Women Suing Over Chemical Hair Straighteners? Examining the Evidence
Recently, numerous women have sued hair product companies like Revlon and L’Oréal for selling dangerous chemical hair straighteners. The reason for this is that these hair straightening products have been shown to significantly increase users’ risk of developing uterine cancer. Product manufacturers can be held accountable when they put customers’ health or safety at risk, and holding them accountable starts with filing a lawsuit in court.
5 Reasons Why Women Are Suing Over Chemical Hair Straighteners
If we examine the evidence, we can see exactly why so many women are suing over chemical hair straighteners. Not only is the scientific link between these hair straighteners and uterine cancer strong, but uterine cancer caused by chemical hair straighteners can also lead to significant financial and non-financial losses:
1. Many Hair Straighteners Contain Chemicals That Can Cause Cancer
Hair straighteners are popular products, especially among Black and Latina women. As a result, several companies sell these products—and they do so in various formulations and under various brand names. Some examples include:
- Africa’s Best
- African Pride
- Crème of Nature
- Just for Me
- Mizani from L’Oréal
- Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil
- Silk Elements
- Soft & Beautiful
- SoftSheen Carson (SSC) from L’Oréal
- SSC Dark and Lovely from L’Oréal
- TCB Naturals
Many chemical hair straightener brands contain chemicals that can cause cancer. This is not uncommon—many personal care products contain chemicals known to cause cancer, and they don’t necessarily put consumers at risk. The cancer-causing chemicals may exist in such small quantities that they aren’t of concern, or the way in which these products are used (i.e., rubbing them on the skin) may not present a significant risk of absorption. But chemical hair straighteners are different.
Currently, many chemical hair straighteners are known to contain at least three cancer-causing chemicals: bisphenol A, formaldehyde and parabens. Due to the strength of these products, these chemicals are used in quantities sufficient to increase users’ risk of cancer resulting from absorption. Additionally, with chemical hair straighteners in particular, the risk of absorption through the scalp is greater due to many users experiencing “burns and lesions caused by straighteners.”
2. These Chemicals Can More Than Double Women’s Risk of Uterine Cancer
This combination of factors—the presence of cancer-causing chemicals and the risk of absorption through burns and lesions in the scalp—increases women’s risk of developing cancer significantly. Studies have focused specifically on the risk of developing uterine cancer as a result of using chemical hair straighteners, and the results have been alarming.
According to a study published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women who have used chemical hair straighteners are approximately 2.5 times more likely to develop uterine cancer during their lifetime. The study followed more than 33,000 women over an 11-year period and found that while the authors “estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70; . . . for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%.”
A ”frequent user” is defined as someone who uses a chemical hair straightening product at least four times a year.
In other words, the study found that women who use chemical hair straighteners every few months are more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer. This is alarming, and, as discussed below, it is an outcome for which hair product companies can—and should—be held accountable.
3. Hair Product Companies Should Have Known that These Chemicals Were Dangerous
Hair product companies should have known that the chemicals in their hair straightening products were dangerous. It has long been known that bisphenol A, formaldehyde, and parabens, and when testing their products, these companies should have discovered that they can cause burns and lesions in the scalp. Putting these two facts together, these companies should have known that women who used them would be at increased risk for developing uterine cancer.
Yet, as is so often the case, they sold their products anyway. In 2019, the researchers behind the NIEHS study released preliminary findings linking chemical hair straighteners to cancer. But these products are still on sale today—and they are still putting women at risk. The evidence has been out there, but the hair product companies have simply chosen to ignore it.
4. Even if They Didn’t Know, They Can Be Held Liable for Selling Dangerous Products
But let’s say they didn’t know. Let’s imagine for a moment that there wasn’t any prior evidence of the link between chemical hair straighteners and uterine cancer. Even in this scenario, women who developed uterine cancer could still file chemical hair straightener lawsuits.
This is because dangerous and defective products are governed by the law of products liability. Under the products liability laws in Florida and other states, product manufacturers can be held strictly liable for selling dangerous and defective products. This means that proof of negligence is not required. If a company sells a dangerous and defective product, and if its product causes harm to consumers, the company is liable for consumers’ losses.
5. The Costs of Living with Uterine Cancer Can Be Substantial
These losses can be substantial. Uterine cancer is a serious disease, and tragically, it can prove fatal in some cases. Even when it doesn’t prove fatal, women who develop uterine cancer can suffer from various symptoms, and their diagnosis can impact all aspects of their day-to-day lives. Treatment can also be incredibly expensive. When women suffer these financial and non-financial costs, the companies that are responsible deserve to be held fully liable.
Speak with an Attorney at Searcy Denney for Free
If you or someone you love developed uterine cancer after using a chemical hair straightener, we encourage you to contact us for more information about your legal rights. For a free, no-obligation consultation with an attorney at Searcy Denney, please call 800-780-8607 or request an appointment online today.