60 lawsuits consolidated in Chicago federal court allege that beauty brand L’Oreal hair relaxer products cause cancer and other health problems, according to a Monday order from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Most of these lawsuits have been filed in federal courts across the United States.
Court records show that at least 57 lawsuits have been filed, claiming that the chemicals found in hair relaxers—used to straighten textured hair permanently—are hazardous to health. The lawsuits allege that L’Oreal and other similar haircare industries were aware of these dangerous chemicals and yet marketed and sold hair relaxers.
These lawsuits were based on a study by the National Institutes of Health, published last October. The study found that women who used cosmetics, especially hair-relaxing products, multiple times a year were twice as likely to develop uterine cancer vs those who did not use the products.
Diandra Debrosse Zimmermann of DiCello Levitt, who filed the first case after the study was published, estimates that thousands of women could sue over the products. Hair relaxers are targeted particularly towards women of color, as the demographic is more likely to have textured hair that would benefit from hair relaxers.
L’Oreal posted a statement online soon after the first lawsuits were filed, stating that the brand is “confident in the safety of [its] products.” L’Oreal claims that recent cases have no legal merit.