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Hair Relaxers And Cancer Risk: Do Perms And Relaxers Cause Cancer?

Hair Relaxers And Cancer Risk: Do Perms And Relaxers Cause Cancer? - Have you ever been concerned about the dangers of hair relaxers and perms? In particular, is there a link between perms and cancer or between hair relaxers and cancer? Nobody wants to consider that their beauty routine is putting them at danger of developing cancer.


However, many academics now believe that this has been happening for decades to women who frequently use hair relaxers such as:

  • Dark & Lovely
  • ORS Olive Oil
  • TCB Naturals
  • Just for Me
  • Motions
  • Optimum Salon
  • African Pride Dream Kids
  • and other Chemical Straighteners

In this piece, we’ll look at the science behind how hair relaxers cause cancer, as well as the different forms of cancer they can cause.

Our law company is actively investigating hair relaxer claims for women who have been diagnosed with uterine cancer or breast cancer after using hair relaxer products on a regular basis.

Request a free consultation and claim evaluation if you have questions or want to discuss the specifics of a potential hair relaxer cancer claim with our lawyers to see whether you are qualified for a settlement.

Cancer Causing Chemicals Used In Hair Relaxers

Straighteners operate by dissolving the protein bonds found in the hair shaft. When the chemical reaction breaks down the protein links, the hair becomes loose and can be reshaped into a flatter shape. Chemicals in hair straightening products, such as lye and formaldehyde, are exceedingly strong.

If you’ve ever used a hair relaxer, you’ve probably noticed the strong odour and irritation created by the gas; you may even have had scalp burns. This is due to the use of these powerful drugs.

So, why do makers of hair relaxers utilise such harmful ingredients in their products? The answer is straightforward: because they can. The chemicals employed are quite successful at straightening hair, and women have been made to believe that hair straighteners are harmless. However, new research linking hair relaxers or perms to cancer is too serious to ignore.

The FDA forbids the promotion or sale of cosmetic items that include dangerous or harmful ingredients that could harm a customer. Most hair relaxers, on the other hand, do not need to be tested or approved by the FDA before they are sold.

L’Oreal, Namaste, Revlon Strength of Nature, and other hair relaxer makers suppressed or removed hazardous substances from ingredient labels, failing to warn of the link between their hair relaxers and cancer.


Some of the most serious offenders identified in hair straightening products are:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Parabens
  • Phalatates
  • Di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP)

Formaldehyde in Hair Relaxer

Many chemical hair straighteners include or emit formaldehyde gas as part of the chemical reaction process. Formaldehyde gas has a strong chemical odour and can cause severe irritation, respiratory problems, headaches and burns if inhaled.

On an ingredient label, it may appear as formaldehyde, formalin, or methylene glycol (or it may be deleted entirely, with no indication that your hair relaxer contains formaldehyde).

Formaldehyde is a highly hazardous substance that has been linked to cancer. You may be familiar with it as the chemical found in embalming fluid.


OSHA mandates establishments that work with formaldehyde (for example, science labs, funeral homes, and chemical storage warehouses) to post cancer warning signs, however these signs are glaringly absent in beauty salons.

Hair Relaxer with Parabens

Parabens are preservatives that are commonly found in cosmetics and hair smoothing treatments. Endocrine disruptors (EDCs) include parabens. Several studies indicate that parabens may mimic oestrogen and so raise the risk of breast cancer cell development.

EDCs and Phthalates in Hair Relaxers

Another sort of chemical found in hair relaxers is phthalates. They are a sort of plasticizer that is used to make things more flexible and long-lasting. Endocrine disruptors (EDCs) are chemicals that can interfere with natural hormone production.

Many of the permanent straightening products also contained Di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP), a particularly hazardous phthalate. DEHP is a carcinogen that has been linked to a variety of health disorders, including endometriosis, reproductive difficulties, infertility, and cancer.

Are hair relaxers linked to cancer?

Manufacturers maintain that at-home hair relaxers do not cause cancer. However, several of the chemicals used in relaxers are known to be carcinogenic (including formaldehyde, parabens, and phthalates), and multiple studies demonstrate that frequent hair straightening use increases the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.

The foundation of the hair relaxer lawsuit is to demonstrate that the producers were aware of the potential hair relaxer cancer risk but failed to warn about it. Popular hair relaxers, such as Dark & Lovely, were marketed as harmless when, in fact, they were everything but. Some products, such as the Just for Me hair relaxer, were promoted to children as young as five years old.

Do Perms cause cancer?

Getting a straight perm at a salon is associated with the same cancer risk as using at-home hair straightening products. Many of the same cancer-causing chemicals are utilised in professional hair smoothing treatments. Keratin treatments, Brazilian blowouts, and Japanese hair smoothing treatments are all examples of this.

When compared to having a hair relaxer treatment at home, using a qualified beauty therapist may lessen the risk of chemical burns and a well-ventilated salon may reduce the chance of inhaling hazardous gas.

Many ladies who have regularly gotten chemical hair straightening services are concerned about perms being connected to cancer. If you are concerned about the risk of perms and cancer, the only way to avoid it totally is to stop undergoing hair relaxer treatments or perms of any kind.

What Kinds of Cancer Are Caused By Hair Relaxers?

Several studies have been conducted over the years that have linked the usage of hair relaxer treatments to two types of cancer: uterine cancer and breast cancer.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Sister study discovered that women who frequently used hair relaxer treatments had a;

  • 156% increased Uterine Cancer risk
  • 30% increased Breast Cancer risk

How Do Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer?

We already know that perms and hair relaxer products include cancer-causing chemicals and endocrine disruptors (EDCs), but how exactly do perms and hair relaxer products cause cancer?

The chemicals in hair relaxers can enter the body in two ways:

  • Inhalation from the toxic fumes
  • Direct absorption from the skin

Chemicals from hair straighteners are absorbed through the skin.

Although the skin serves as a protective barrier, some substances can still be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, two things contribute to the increased absorption of hair relaxer chemicals.

  1. Blood arteries in the scalp are closer to the skin’s surface than in the rest of the body. It also transports more blood than the rest of your skin, making chemicals much easier to absorb. Have you ever thought about why head wounds bleed so much?…This is the explanation.
  2. Scalp burns boost chemical absorption into the bloodstream. Scalp burns happen all the time, whether you use an at-home hair relaxer or a salon perm. When you receive a scalp burn from a hair relaxer, the protective skin barrier is damaged, allowing the chemicals to enter your blood vessels directly.

How exactly do the chemicals in hair relaxers cause cancer?

Although it is well accepted that chemicals such as formaldehyde, phthalates, and parabens are connected to cancer, the precise mechanism by which they cause cancer is still being explored.

These substances are all classified as endocrine disruptors (EDCs). This means they can interfere with the body’s natural synthesis of hormones, which are responsible for a variety of vital processes such as:

  • Signaling cell growth
  • Reproduction
  • Controlling the immune and nervous systems

The prevalent view holds that endocrine disruptive chemicals might cause cancer cells to develop more quickly, particularly in organs that are part of the female reproductive system or are severely influenced by hormone imbalances. This would surely explain why people who use hair relaxers have a considerably increased risk of both uterine and breast cancer.

Hair Relaxer and Perm Cancer Settlements May Be Available

Settlements may be available for women diagnosed with uterine cancer or breast cancer as a result of the manufacturers’ failure to warn about the link between hair relaxers and cancer.

Hair relaxer settlements are also being sought for women who got uterine fibroids as a result of chemical relaxers, necessitating surgical excision or a hysterectomy.

Manufacturers owed it to women to conduct study on the negative effects of hair relaxers and to tell them about any potential cancer risks, so that they could make an informed opinion about whether to expose themselves to cancer-causing chemicals in hair relaxers and perms.

For decades, hair relaxers have been extensively promoted to Black customers, producing billions of dollars in annual income. Because no woman would willingly subject herself to an elevated risk of cancer by using a hair relaxer or straightener, these products have been sold as safe.

If you or a loved one acquired uterine cancer, breast cancer, or had a hysterectomy as a result of using a hair relaxer or chemical straightener, you may be eligible for compensation.

We are here to assist you even if you only have questions about the hair relaxer lawsuit. Call us at +1-530-201-4340 or fill out the form here to schedule a free consultation.

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