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Research has shown for decades that chemical relaxers are linked to several negative health effects, including uterine cancer. Our lawyers are standing up for Black women to protect them from further harm and to advocate that they receive the compensation necessary for life-saving medical care. Contact us to get the help you, your mother, sister or friend need to file a chemical relaxer lawsuit to begin your recovery.

Since the early days of advertising, women have been sold the idea that youth, thinness, and cleanliness are the epitomai of beauty and confidence. While meeting mainstream beauty standards is complicated for most women, for Black women, these beauty standards are much more complex and difficult. At the center of Black-American women’s struggle with eurocentric beauty standards is hair. Amongst the African diaspora, the way hair naturally grows from the scalp is often considered unprofessional, unkempt, and unattractive. Afros or other protective Black hairstyles can lead to Black girls being unjustly targeted and punished in school or prevent Black women from securing jobs, getting promoted or, in some cases, fired. Because of the pressure to assimilate, Black women often resort to styling that is bad for their hair and their health. 

Are Hair Relaxers Regulated by the FDA?

No. The law does not require hair relaxers to be FDA approved before selling on the market. The FDA does, however, monitor consumer reports of adverse reactions.

Why are hair relaxers still available if they cause uterine cancer?

It’s unclear why the link between serious health conditions and relaxers isn’t enough to pull these products from the shelves. The most obvious reasons are company denials and a billion-dollar industry. Unfortunately, relaxers are heavily marketed to Black women—a group that has historically been medically underserved.

Toxic ingredients have profound negative health effects on Black women

Black women spend over $7.5 billion each year on beauty products every year, spending at least 80% more on cosmetics and twice as much on skincare as their non-Black counterparts. Despite this significant buying power, the needs and health of Black women have largely been ignored and underserved by the beauty industry. There are significant disparities in populations exposed to toxic chemicals in beauty products. For example, extremely toxic chemical straightener companies have long pushed Black girls and women to “relax” their hair. While an increasing number of Black women are embracing naturally textured hair, many still rely on relaxers to achieve Eurocentric beauty standards in the workplace or to ease hair maintenance. 

Other Beauty Industry Threats to Black Women’s Health

Chemical straighteners aren’t the only threat to the health and safety of Black women and children, many natural hair products contain various toxic ingredients. These products include the following: 

  • Relaxers
  • Hot oil treatments
  • anti-frizz/polish
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Hair lotions

In particular, these products contain hormone disruptors like paraben and phthalates—more often than products marketed to white women. These products contain harmful ingredients that are associated with the following health conditions:

  • Early puberty
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Increased cancer risks

In fact, researchers believe that many of the health disparities between Black and white women can be attributed to more prominent use of toxic hair chemicals among Black women. A 2018 study showed that Black women are exposed to far more toxic chemicals than women of other ethnicities. The study showed that 84% of chemicals detected in the hair products were not even listed on the label. 

How Does the FDA Regulate Cosmetics?

Technically, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the cosmetic industry. The agency was given the authority to regulate the industry under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). This law says that cosmetics cannot be adulterated or misbranded in any way. In addition, products must meet ingredient labeling requirements under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. 

In reality, however, the law does not do much to actually protect consumers. According to the FDA’s website, there is no requirement for cosmetic ingredients (other than color additives) to have FDA approval before hitting shelves. 

Currently, in the United States, the FDA has prohibited or restricted the following ingredients in cosmetics:

  • Bithionol
  • Chlorofluorocarbon propellants
  • Chloroform
  • Halogenated salicylanilides (di-, tri-, metabromsalan and tetrachlorosalicylanilide)
  • Hexachlorophene
  • Mercury compounds
  • Methylene chloride
  • Prohibited cattle materials
  • Sunscreens in cosmetics
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Zirconium-containing complexes

By contrast, the European Union bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm, or birth defects.  

Check the Label: Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

The cosmetic and personal care industry is largely self-regulated. As mentioned before, it’s impossible to know what toxic ingredients are in the products you use because many times they aren’t listed on labels. As more companies move toward removing dangerous products from the shelves, many companies are still slow to adapt to women’s needs for safe products. 


When it comes to toxic ingredients, talc products may contain unintended contaminants like asbestos. In general, it’s best to move away from products that use talc no matter if it’s in your makeup or in hygiene products like baby powder. Thousands of women who used Johnson & Johnson powder products have filed lawsuits against the company for ovarian cancer. Particles of talc can embed in the ovarian walls and overtime cause tumors that can lead to cancer. Additionally, the substance has also been linked to mesothelioma. In other words, if your makeup contains talc, it might be a good time to look into switching. Regardless of how much Johnson & Johnson tries to downplay the safety of its talcum powder line, asbestos has been found in the product several times over the last several decades. Next time you’re in the beauty aisle, look these alternatives to talc.


Parabens are common preservatives in the cosmetics industry. They help prevent mold, fungus and parasites from cropping up in your beauty products. However, they can be absorbed in the skin and have been found in cancerous breast tumors. In addition to breast cancer risks, parabens may also lead to testicular cancer in men. On your next trip down the beauty aisle, check the label for the following: 

  • benzylparaben
  • butyiparaben
  • propylparaben
  • methylparaben
  • ethylparaben
  • isobutylparaben


There’s an old saying that if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t use it. Phthalates generally aren’t listed on labels, but may instead be referred to as a fragrance. On your next trip down the beauty aisle, check the label for high-quality products that are naturally fragranced or fragrance-free.


Yes, many beauty products available on the shelves contain the same substance your car’s motor oil is made of. Petroleum contains 1,4-Dioxane, which is considered a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Check the label for the following: 

  • Petrolatum
  • Xylene
  • Toluene
  • Mineral oil
  • Liquid paraffin


Somebody warn Brad Mondo! Resorcinol is a popular ingredient in bleach. The product is so dangerous that it is banned in federal buildings. However, the product is commonly found in hair coloring products. Studies show that using Resorcinol can disrupt healthy thyroid function and cause dye allergies. The next time you’re looking for hair coloring products, avoid any products with Resorcinol on the label. 


The Environmental Protection Agency considers Triclosan a pesticide. The chemical has antibacterial properties that can kill even good bacteria—which can give rise to superbugs. In addition, the substance is a hormone and thyroid disruptor. 

Other safety concerns for women on the market

When it comes to medical clinical research, women are often excluded from these trials. In other words, drugs and devices are often tested for their effectiveness on men. This means that in many cases, data on the effects of drugs and medical devices on women are often limited. 

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

For more than 40 years, The Carlson Law Firm has represented clients who suffered injuries or illnesses from dangerous drugs, devices and products. We have helped victims recover a significant amount of compensation for injuries sustained when major corporations put profits over people. Our firm is currently representing those who have been affected by an ovarian cancer diagnosis after using Johnson & Johnson baby powder. 

Call The Carlson Law Firm at 800-359-5690 to discuss how to protect your rights with a Talcum Lawsuit Lawyer.

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