Latest Concerns Surrounding Chemical Hair Straighteners in the US

In pursuit of the perfect mane, many individuals turn to chemical hair straighteners to achieve sleek, smooth locks. However, recent concerns have emerged regarding the safety and potential health risks associated with these products.

In the United States, discussions around the use of chemical hair straighteners have intensified, prompting consumers to reevaluate their hair care routines. In this article, we look into the concerns surrounding chemical hair straighteners, shedding light on the potential risks and offering insights into safer alternatives.

The Rise of Chemical Hair Straighteners

Chemical hair straighteners are widely popular, especially among Black women in the US, who use them to change their natural hair texture. According to Science Direct, 95% of self-identified adult Black women in the US use these products, underscoring their immense popularity in this demographic.

These treatments function by chemically disrupting the bonds within the hair, facilitating the transformation of its texture into a sleeker, straighter form. Common ingredients in these straightening formulas include formaldehyde and phthalates, among other chemicals, each aiding in restructuring the hair strands.

Concerns Regarding Formaldehyde and Other Toxic Chemicals

According to Verywell Health, formaldehyde is a colorless and flammable gas with a distinct odor reminiscent of pickles. It is naturally produced by animals, plants, and humans in small quantities. In hair straightening treatments, formaldehyde aids in bonding the hair’s new shape for long-lasting results.

Low levels of formaldehyde exposure usually don’t cause health issues for most people. Sensitive individuals may experience irritation of the eyes, throat, nose, airways, and skin, even with minimal exposure. However, extended exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to more serious health issues, such as an elevated risk of cancer.

Furthermore, beyond formaldehyde, other harmful chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, and the highly toxic DEHP are commonly found in hair straightening products. These substances pose additional health risks and have been associated with various adverse effects.

Health Risks Beyond Allergies: Insights from Studies

Most individuals face minor issues like allergies and skin diseases from hair straightener chemicals. However, studies have linked these chemicals to serious illnesses, including cancer.

Uterine Cancer

In a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2022, researchers examined data from a cohort of 33,947 women aged between 35 and 74. According to Consumer Notice, the findings revealed that women who reported using hair straighteners exhibited elevated incidence rates of uterine cancer.

Specifically, those who utilized these products more frequently, exceeding four times within a 12-month period, faced a risk more than double that of non-users.

Endometrial Cancer

Several studies suggest that chemicals found in chemical hair straighteners and hair dyes, such as phthalates and parabens, may trigger hormonal imbalances associated with endometriosis.



These endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been implicated in the development of the condition. A study published in the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences in 2018 detected elevated levels of phthalates in women diagnosed with endometriosis.

Uterine Fibroids

In November 2022, Northwestern Medicine conducted a study, as per Science Daily. It revealed that women with high exposure to phthalates, particularly DEHP and its metabolites, had a greater risk of developing symptomatic fibroids. The study indicated that DEHP activates specific hormone receptors, contributing to the growth of fibroid tumors.

Additionally, scientists discovered that DEHP can transfer from a mother to her baby and steadily emit consumer products into indoor environments.

Legal and Regulatory Concerns

The mounting concerns, particularly among Black women who are frequent users of chemical hair straighteners, have sparked public outcry. Companies such as L’Oréal, Strength of Nature, and Soft Sheen are now facing legal action through the hair straightener lawsuit. These legal actions claim that these products were heavily promoted to Black women, who are more likely to utilize chemical hair straighteners.

As of May 2024, Drugwatch reports that there are 8,468 pending lawsuits regarding chemical hair straighteners consolidated in multidistrict litigation. TorHoerman Law advises affected individuals to seek legal assistance to pursue compensation. With experienced attorneys’ assistance, affected individuals could potentially receive settlements ranging from $100,000 to $1,500,000. However, the exact amount depends on the specific details of each case.

Safer Alternatives and Natural Hair Care

In response to the growing concerns surrounding chemical hair straighteners, many individuals are turning to safer alternatives and embracing natural hair care methods.

This involves adopting heat-free styling techniques like air-drying and twist-outs. Additionally, it entails using natural oils and plant-based ingredients to nourish and condition the hair.

Educating Consumers and Promoting Transparency

As awareness of the potential risks linked to chemical hair straighteners rises, there’s a greater focus on educating consumers. This emphasis extends to promoting transparency within the beauty industry.


This includes providing clear labeling of ingredients, conducting thorough safety assessments, and advocating for stricter regulations to protect consumer health and safety.


What is the Hair Straightener Lawsuit?

The Hair Straightener Lawsuit refers to legal actions filed against companies manufacturing chemical hair straighteners. These lawsuits allege that the use of these products has led to serious health issues, prompting affected individuals to seek compensation for damages.

What are the main concerns addressed in the Hair Straightener Lawsuits?

The main focus of these lawsuits is on the potential health hazards linked to chemical hair straighteners. These risks include but are not limited to cancer, hormonal imbalances, allergic reactions, and other adverse health effects.

How many lawsuits are currently pending?

As of the latest updates, there are around eight thousand pending lawsuits consolidated in multidistrict litigation in various courts. The number of pending lawsuits continues to evolve as more individuals come forward with claims.

In summary, although chemical hair straighteners may provide temporary benefits, the potential health hazards linked to these products raise significant concerns. As consumers become more informed about the potential dangers, there is a growing demand for safer alternatives and greater transparency within the beauty industry.

Prioritizing health and well-being enables individuals to make informed choices about their hair care routines. Embracing natural methods can promote the health and vitality of their hair.