Hair relaxers have been popular for people who have wanted to straighten their hair for years. They break down the protein bonds in hair, making straightening easier. Hair relaxers can be purchased at most drugstores or beauty supply stores and are typically used by people with naturally curly or kinky hair who want a straighter, more manageable look. Unfortunately, while they can make hair more manageable and effortless to style, they also come with a host of potential dangers.
Many hair relaxer products have faced legal action in recent years due to their harmful effects on users’ hair and scalp. In February 2023, news broke that nearly 60 hair relaxer lawsuits against L’Oreal and other companies had been consolidated in Illinois. These lawsuits allege that the hair relaxer products marketed by these companies contain dangerous chemicals that cause severe hair and scalp damage.
This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about this legal action, the dangers of hair relaxers, and how to protect yourself. So, let’s dive in!
The Dangers of Hair Relaxers
Many hair relaxers contain harsh chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and guanidine hydroxide, which can cause severe damage to the hair and scalp. Some of the most common dangers of hair relaxers include:
Hair relaxers are highly caustic and can cause chemical burns if they come into contact with skin. Chemical burns can cause redness, swelling, and blistering and can be extremely painful. In some cases, chemical burns from hair relaxers can even lead to scarring.
Hair relaxers can also damage the scalp. When hair relaxers are applied to the scalp, they can cause chemical burns, leading to hair loss and scarring. Hair relaxers can also cause hair to become weak and brittle, leading to breakage and further damage to the scalp.
Hair relaxers can weaken hair, making it more prone to breakage and damage. Over time, this can lead to hair loss, particularly if the hair is over-processed or the relaxer is left on for too long.
Some of the chemicals found in hair relaxers, such as formaldehyde, have recently been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health problems. Additionally, some people may be allergic to the chemicals found in hair relaxers, which can cause a range of health problems, from difficulty breathing to weakened immune systems.
How to Protect Yourself
You can take precautions if you use hair relaxer products to safeguard yourself from any potential risks. Here are some tips:
- Choose a hair relaxer product labeled as “gentle” or “no-lye.” These products are typically less harsh on the hair and scalp.
- Always follow the instructions on the product carefully. Leave the product on your hair only as long as recommended.
- Do a patch test before using any hair relaxer product. Apply a small amount of relaxer to a small section of your scalp and wait 24 hours to see if you have any adverse reactions.
- Consider alternatives to hair relaxers, such as natural hairstyles or using a hair straightener.
Safer Alternatives to Hair Relaxers
Overall, there are a variety of safer alternatives to hair relaxers that can still help people achieve the straight hair they desire. It’s essential to do your research, talk to a stylist, and prioritize the health of your hair and scalp when deciding on hair treatments.
One safer alternative to hair relaxers is hot combing. This technique involves using a heated metal comb to straighten hair. While it can be more time-consuming than a hair relaxer, it is a safer alternative without chemicals. However, hot combing can still cause damage to hair if not done correctly, so make sure and use the right temperature and technique. Another tool-based alternative to hair relaxers is using flat irons or straightening brushes. Whichever heat styling tool you use, be sure to use a heat protectant spray to prevent damage to the hair.
You can also choose to embrace your natural hair texture and discover hairstyles that complement it. This can involve using style products developed explicitly for curly or kinky hair to accentuate and define natural curls or waves. Those who prefer to avoid chemical treatments may find this a healthier and lower-maintenance solution.
Lastly, chemical-free straightening treatments are available, such as keratin treatments. These treatments use natural proteins to help straighten hair and can provide similar results to hair relaxers without harsh chemicals. However, it’s important to research products and treatments and to choose a reputable salon and stylist to ensure the treatment is done safely and effectively.
Current Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
According to a decision made in February by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, over 60 lawsuits alleging that hair relaxer products provided by L’Oreal USA Inc. and other businesses cause cancer and other health issues will be combined in federal court in Chicago. According to court records, at least 57 cases have been brought against the products, which use chemicals to permanently straighten textured hair, in federal courts around the nation. According to the claims, the businesses marketed and sold their products despite knowing they included hazardous chemicals.
According to the lawsuits, L’Oreal and other companies failed to warn users about the potential risks of using their hair relaxer products. As a result, many users suffer from hair loss, scalp burns, and other serious injuries. L’Oreal has expressed confidence in its products and moved to dispute the claims in court.
Know Your Rights and Take Action
If you believe that you have experienced harm or injury due to a hair relaxer treatment, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options.
One important right is the right to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor of the hair relaxer product. This can be done by filing a product liability lawsuit to hold the manufacturer or distributor responsible for any harm or injury caused by their product. Product liability lawsuits can be complex and challenging, so you should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. In Illinois, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, meaning you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. Act quickly and seek legal assistance as soon as possible to ensure you meet all the important deadlines.
You also have the right to compensation for any harm or injury caused by a hair relaxer treatment. This can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. To pursue compensation, it’s important to document any harm or injury caused by the treatment and to seek medical attention as soon as possible.