Hair Relaxer Harmful Chemicals Caused Woman to Develop Uterine Cancer, Lawsuit Alleges

Phthalates and other harmful chemicals in hair relaxers like Dark & Lovely, Olive Oil, Africa’s Best, African Pride, Just for Me and other widely used perms caused uterine cancer, Missouri woman claims

  • Lawsuit alleges hair relaxers expose women to phthalates and other harmful chemicals
  • Plaintiff developed uterine cancer from the hair relaxer chemicals, which were applied to her scalp since she was 15 years old
  • Although manufacturers knew or should have known about the harmful effects of the chemicals in hair relaxers, warnings were not provided
  • Case joins a growing number of hair relaxer lawsuits being pursued following a study last year

A Missouri woman has filed a uterine cancer lawsuit against L’Oreal, Softsheen-Carson and other companies, alleging that she was not adequately warned about the risks associated with harmful chemicals in hair relaxers and at-home perms, which recent studies have found can have an adverse effect on women’s reproductive health.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Angela Steward in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on January 5, indicating that her uterine cancer was a direct and proximate result of repeated exposure to hair relaxer harmful chemicals, including phthalates and other endocrine disruptors.

Steward indicates she began applying hair relaxers to her scalp at the age of 15, in 1983, and over the course of her life used a variety of different products, including Dark & Lovely, Olive Oil, Africa’s Best, African Pride, Just for Me, Motions, Optimum, Soft & Beautiful, TCB or TCB Naturals, and Ultra Sheen Supreme.

The lawsuit alleges the manufacturers knew or should have known that harmful hair relaxer chemicals may increase the risk of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids and other devastating side effects. However, rather than warning about the potential risk, manufacturers continued to aggressively market the relaxers and perms, specifically targeted young Black children, creating generations of devoted customers who did not know they were exposing themselves to an increased risk of cancer.


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Steward alleges she was diagnosed with uterine cancer from hair relaxers in 2014, and underwent a full hysterectomy and chemotherapy treatment as a result. The lawsuit claims the manufacturers had information available about the potential long-term risks associated with the hair relaxer chemicals, but failed to warn the public.

“In some studies, up to 90% of black and brown women have used hair relaxants and straighteners, which is more commonplace for these women than for any other race,” Steward’s lawsuit states. “Hair products such as relaxers contain hormonally active and carcinogenic compounds, such as phthalates, known to cause endocrine disruption, which are not required to be listed separately as ingredients and are often broadly lumped into ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ categories. Relaxer habits usually begin in formative childhood years, and adolescence is likely a period of enhanced susceptibility to debilitating conditions resulting from exposure to these chemicals.”

Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer Risks

Chemical straighteners like Just for Me, Optimum, ORS Olive Oil, Dark & Lovely, Motions and other hair relaxers have been marketed for decades as safe, targeting Black women looking to remove the natural curls in their hair. However, in recent years, studies have been published which make a connection between the use of hair relaxer and cancer, raising concerns about the wide spread use of the products by Black and other minority women throughout the U.S.

In October 2022, researchers published findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which warned that ingredients used in the chemical hair straighteners may cause uterine cancer. Researchers found that the rate of uterine cancer was nearly three times greater among women who frequently used hair relaxer chemicals, compared to women who never used the products.

Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health reviewed data on nearly 34,000 women in the United States between the ages of 35 and 74 who completed questionnaires on their use of multiple hair products, including hair dyes, straighteners, relaxers, or pressing products, and permanents or body waves. A 10 year follow-up on the incident rate of uterine cancer diagnosis was performed.

According to the results, researchers identified 378 uterine cancer cases, finding participants who used hair straightening products at least once had the highest rate of uterine cancer diagnosis compared to any other hair products involved in the study. They also had a higher rate of uterine cancer when compared to women who used no hair straightener products.

January 2023 Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update

Steward’s claim joins a growing number of similar Dark & Lovely lawsuits, Just for Me lawsuits, and other claims being brought over side effects of hair relaxer products, each raising similar claims and allegations over the failure to disclose harmful chemicals in the products.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the complaints spread throughout the federal court system, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to establish a hair relaxer MDL (multidistrict litigation) in December 2022, which would transfer the claims to one U.S, District Judge to preside over coordinated discovery and a series of early “bellwether” trials. The U.S. JPML will consider oral arguments over whether the hair relaxer lawsuits should be consolidated on January 26, 2023.

If centralized pretrial proceedings are set up in the federal court system, Steward’s uterine cancer lawsuit will be consolidated with other similar claims in 2023. However, if a settlement or other resolution is not reached during the pretrial proceedings, the claim would later be returned back to the Northern District of Illinois for an individual trial.

Ultimately, it is expected that the litigation will include several thousand lawsuits over uterine cancer, breast cancers, uterine fibroids and ovarian cancer linked to hair relaxer products.



Lawyers provide free consultations and claim evaluations for women who have experienced side effects from harmful hair relaxer chemicals, including uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, fibroids and other injuries.


Find Out If You Qualify for Hair Relaxer Compensation


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