Uterine Cancer Lawsuit Filed Over Toxic Effects of Hair Straighteners Dark & Lovely, Optimum and Just for Me

Lawsuit alleges L'Oreal and other manufacturers knew about the risk of uterine cancer from hair straightener chemicals, but failed to warn consumers.

  • Dark & Lovely, Optimum, Just for Me and other chemical hair straighteners contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that increase the risk of uterine cancer and other injuries
  • Lawsuit alleges L'Oreal and other manufacturers withheld information from women using their hair straighteners to protect sales and profits
  • Additional uterine cancer lawsuits are expected in the coming weeks and months

An Ohio woman has filed a product liability lawsuit against the makers of “Dark & Lovely”, “Optimum” and “Just for Me” hair relaxers, alleging that the chemical hair straighteners caused uterine cancer to develop after she regularly used of the products for more than 33 years, starting when she was 15 years old.

The complaint (PDF) was filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio by Jackie Brownlee, and her spouse Jerri Peebles, pursuing damages from L’Oreal, Soft Sheen-Carson, LLC, and Godrej Consumer Products as defendants, for failing to warn women about the toxic effects of chemicals in the widely marketed hair straighteners.

Chemicals in Hair Relaxers Linked to Uterine Cancer

The case joins a growing number of hair relaxer lawsuits now being filed throughout the federal court system, following the publication of several studies that highlighted health risks associated with phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals found in a number of products widely marketed to Black women, including Dark & Lovely, Just of Me, Optimum, Motions, Olive Oil Girls and other brands.

In addition to claims that hair straighteners such as Dark & Lovely and Just for Me cause uterine cancer, plaintiffs have also filed claims over the development of ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and other injuries that have a known link to the chemicals.


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Brownlee first began using the L’Oreal hair straighteners, including Dark & Lovely, Optimum and Just for Me, when she was about 15 years old in 1973. She used the products regularly for more than three decades, even after she was diagnosed with uterine cancer in September 2010, having no indication the hair straightener chemicals caused her cancer.

However, the uterine cancer lawsuit alleges L’Oreal and the other defendants were well aware of the toxic effects of the hair straightening chemicals, but hid the potential risks from the public in order to maintain sales and profits.

“Defendants concealed their knowledge of the Products’ defects from plaintiff Jackie Brownlee and/or the public in general,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant’s representations and/or omissions were done with the intent of defrauding and deceiving Plaintiff Jackie Brownlee and/or the public in general, and were made with the intent of inducing the public in general to purchase Defendants’ Products for chemically straightening and/or relaxing hair, all of which evinced a callous, reckless, willful, depraved indifference to the health, safety, and welfare of the Plaintiff.”

Uterine Cancer Risk from Hair Relaxer

In recent years, studies have been published that make a connection between 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.

Other Side Effects of Hair Relaxers

The lawsuit filed by Brownlee also outlines the findings of other studies and reports which identified health concerns associated with the phthalates and endocrine disrupting chemicals in hair relaxers sold by the Defendants.

A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Cancer (IJC) issued similar findings, indicating women who reported regularly using straighteners and permanent hair dyes were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer than non-users.

Over an eight year period, researchers identified 2,794 cases of breast cancer after chemical hair straighteners use. The study revealed those who frequently used hair straightener products were at a significantly increased risk of breast cancer, finding women using hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks, had a 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers warned that African American women who reported using permanent hair dyes regularly were associated with a 60% increase of breast cancer diagnosis, compared to an 8% increased risk for Caucasian women.

The lawsuit also points out that uterine fibroids and endometriosis have been associated with phthalate metabolites in hair relaxers.

December 2022 Hair Straightener Lawsuit Update

It is widely expected that thousands of hair straightener lawsuits over uterine cancer, fibroids and other injuries will be filed throughout the federal court system over the coming months.

Giving similar questions of fact and law that are being repeated in complaints already pending in U.S. District Courts nationwide, a motion was filed in November 2022 to centralize and consolidate the hair relaxer lawsuits in an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, so that one judge can coordinate discovery into common issues that will arise in the claims and help facilitate settlement negotiations.

Plaintiffs have proposed that all claims like the uterine cancer lawsuit filed by Brownlee be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. However, L’Oreal and other manufacturers of chemical hair straighteners have not yet responded to the motion. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is expected to schedule oral arguments at an upcoming hearing set for January 26, 2023 in Miami, Florida.

Contact A Lawyer


Lawyers provide free consultations and claim evaluations to help women determine if they may be eligible to receive settlements for uterine cancer caused by hair straightener chemicals.


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  • HerminiaDecember 1, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    I had a uterine fibroid the size of a melon, resulting a hysterectomy. Very very painful.

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