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Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

Dangerous Chemical Attorneys in St. Louis

In 2020, the global Black hair care market was worth $2.5 billion, with the hair relaxer market estimated at $718 million in 2021. There has been a historical and systematic push for women of color specifically to maintain straightened hair to assimilate into Corporate America. At no fault of their own, many parents have allowed their children to use these products as well. In a series of studies, the nation’s top scientists have found a link between use of these chemical relaxers and an increased risk of uterine and ovarian cancers. Unfortunately, while making billions of dollars on their hair relaxer products, huge cosmetic corporations have once again failed women, especially women of color, and allowed harmful chemicals to permeate their customer’s bodies.

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About Harmful Chemicals in Hair Relaxers

Hair relaxers are made up of different chemicals, many of which are benign, but there are some that are incredibly toxic. Cosmetics companies have been found to include in their hair relaxer products: lye, formaldehyde, and phthalates. Specifically, DEHP, a phthalate, is classified by the EPA as a “probable human carcinogen” and is outlawed for use in consumer products in the European Union. California, the first state in the United States to take action against use of DEHP, requires specific labeling for products containing DEHP and notes that its use is associated with a risk of developing cancer. Why include this chemical if it is so dangerous? DEHP specifically has use in the plastics industry to ensure high flexibility. Here, cosmetics companies use DEHP as a gelling agent and for scent preservation. However, DEHP is typically not listed separately on the hair relaxer product label, but rather hidden within the ingredient name “fragrance.”

Products At Issue

The list of products containing these harmful chemicals is growing. At this time, investigation by scientists and attorneys have found that the products below may be at issue.

  • Dark and Lovely
  • Optimum
  • Soft & Beautiful
  • Motions
  • TCB Naturals
  • Just for Me
  • Olive Oil Girls
  • Organic Root Stimulator

How Are Phthalates Like DEHP Causing Injuries and How Do I Make My Case?

In all lawsuits, causation, or showing how an injury was caused related to the Defendant’s actions, is a hurdle that attorneys, and the scientists and physicians working with them, must overcome. In the studies that initially brought this issue to light, the common connection between hair relaxers was their use of endocrine disruptors like DEHP, which are chemicals that interfere with the hormonal system. Here, DEHP specifically causes chromosomal aberration and DNA damage, which are both precursors to cancer development. For further information on the science behind these cases, please see our blog “Hair Relaxers and Straighteners Linked to Uterine and Ovarian Cancers.”

It is not incumbent on our clients to show this direct relationship – we do this through collection of medical records, investigation into the science behind the causal relationship, and testimony put forth by expert witnesses including scientists and physicians. That said, because this is not a prescription product and sales are not necessarily tracked by a record-keeping systems, we ask our clients to find and retain evidence showing proof of using the products in the form of leftover boxes, receipts, purchase records, or any other document that shows usage and/or purchase. This, along with our investigative work, leads to an easier process of litigating the case.

As the science continues to develop, we will work with our clients to build the strongest cases possible. At this time, it is clear that use of hair relaxers at least four times per year and a diagnosis of uterine or ovarian cancer within five years of that use could qualify you for inclusion in this lawsuit. As such, if you or a loved one meet this criteria, the personal injury team at The Simon Law Firm, P.C. would like to discuss your potential case further with you. For a free, confidential consultation, please contact us via our website here or by phone at (314) 241-2929.

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