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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

From Beauty to Legal Battles: Exploring Hair Straightener Lawsuit Trends

Smooth, flawless hair dazzles across social media posts as the latest beauty must-have. But dramatic styling transformations can come paired with harsh chemical processes that can catalyze unexpected harm when safety takes a backseat. 

​A team of scientists from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences investigated the hair care routines of over 33,000 women. What they discovered shook them. The evidence indicated that women who regularly used chemical hair straightening products at least four times a year had more than double the risk of developing uterine cancer.


In this blog, we will dive deep into the factors driving legal scrutiny of the hair straightener industry. We will also explore consumer safety concerns surrounding toxic ingredients in popular smoothing treatments. When “buyer beware” prompts turn insufficient against marketing facades and lies, legal accountability steps in as a last resort. 

Toxic Ingredient Concerns

Bree-Shawna Watts, aged 32, underwent a hysterectomy following a diagnosis of uterine cancer. In April 2022, she underwent another surgery to address what her doctors initially believed to be a fibroid causing severe pelvic pain and heavy periods. 

However, her doctor’s final diagnosis was the nail in the coffin. Watts had uterine sarcoma, a form of cancer. Everything, except her ovaries and fallopian tubes, got taken out. 

Today, the hair straightener lawsuit aims at brands like L’Oreal, Dark & Lovely,  and Revlon, to name a few, for their hair products containing carcinogens.

Most hair care products contain chemicals like formaldehyde, parabens, and phthalates. Formaldehyde vapors or liquids are carcinogenic. Additionally, the other two chemical components interfere with the body’s endocrine system, which plays a vital role in hormone regulation. This, consequently, increases the likelihood of uterine cancer, the most common cancer among women.

Formaldehyde, despite its links to cancer, turns up in countless “natural hair smoother” kits. These kits rely on this very noxious gas to alter hair protein structures temporarily. Its presence has fueled lawsuits accusing companies of deceptive representations.

Similarly, the chemical lye present in relaxers invites scalp burns, blisters, and irreparable hair loss. 

Regulation and Accountability Issues

Unlike pharmaceuticals and medical products, cosmetics face minimal regulatory control or mandatory safety clearances before coming to market under current laws enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Only colorant ingredients require the submission of a premarket review. The legal assumption holds that cosmetic brands self-determine and validate product safety. 

They only face potential FDA compliance action if post-launch issues crop up or consumers submit complaints of harm tied to usage under normal conditions. 

According to TorHoerman Law, companies formulating cosmetics must avoid restricted or prohibited ingredients while observing proper labeling protocols around usage. 

Nonetheless, cosmetic manufacturers must uphold stringent internal safety verification, given the broad latitude around voluntary safety data. Companies must endeavor to mitigate legal and financial risks by conducting internal toxicology testing. 

While the law grants wide flexibility in cosmetics R&D, legal responsibility still falls on brands to put products onto the market that are labeled properly to support consumer well-being.

Recent Lawsuits

In 2018, Jenny Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Four years later, in 2022, she became the first person to file a hair straightener lawsuit. She initiated a federal lawsuit against L’Oréal and SoftSheen Carson, claiming that their products were responsible for her cancer.

The legal complaint asserted that the companies neglected to properly flag the presence of sulfates in their products. Sulfates are a known irritant, needing explicit warnings for sensitive skin users.

Olaplex, a well-known Californian haircare company, offers a range of products, including shampoos, conditioners, and treatments, which promise to effectively “repair broken bonds and revitalize hair.” Twenty-eight women sued the company in 2023, alleging that its products have led to hair loss, blisters, and other adverse effects. 

On October 6, 2023, the FDA proposed banning all hair products that contain formaldehyde.

As of February 2024, the most recent filings from the JPML indicate that there are currently around 8,000 pending lawsuits related to hair relaxers within the Hair Relaxer MDL.

To conclude, the recent hair relaxer lawsuits spotlight cosmetic brands downplaying safety risks to drive profits. Many of them have also attracted stern cases for their negligence, which has caused life-altering health issues for plaintiffs. 

Such cases spur hopes of consumer-led reform, pushing more diligence around cosmetic testing, ingredients, and the clarity of on-label hazards. Legal accountability and advocacy can gradually strengthen oversight, demanding companies prioritize consumer well-being over margins. 

Though long overdue, these cases fortify calls for all consumers to keep demanding changes for better industry transparency and protection against preventable harm.

Read More: Maximizing Truck Accident Settlements: Importance of a Board Certified Lawyer

Lily Jones
Lily Joneshttps://alphafartuna.com/
Lily Jones is a proficient researcher and writer with a rich background spanning over six years, specializing in crafting compelling SEO content. Her enthusiasm for delving into fresh concepts and disseminating knowledge through the written word is evident in her work. With a meticulous approach, Lily Jones strives to deliver content that not only educates but also captivates visually. She remains at the forefront of her field by continuously honing her skills and staying abreast of the ever-evolving SEO landscape, ensuring her content maintains its competitive edge in search rankings. Outside of her writing endeavors, Lily Jones can be found immersed in books, riding the waves, or experimenting with delectable recipes in her kitchen.

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