Just days after an alarming study from the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Safety (NIEHS) found that frequent use of chemical hair straighteners increases the risk of developing uterine cancer, a major beauty giant is being hit with a lawsuit as a result of allegations against its own chemical hair straightening products.
L’Oreal, along with multiple other beauty companies, is being sued over claims that its chemical hair straightening products contributed to women contracting uterine cancer. The suit was filed by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, counsel Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann, and others on behalf of 32-year-old Missouri resident Jenny Mitchell, alleging that Mitchell’s uterine cancer was caused by endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in L’Oreal’s products. Mitchell, a Black woman, is seeking compensation in excess of $75,000 per the lawsuit.
It should be noted that along with L’Oreal, the other companies being sued include Strength of Nature Global LLC, Soft Sheen Carson (W.I.) Inc.,Dabur International Ltd. and Dabur USA Inc., and Namaste Laboratories.
Per a news release from the office of Ben Crump, Mitchell had begun using the products in 2000 and continued using them until 2022. Despite having no family history of uterine or other cancer, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a full hysterectomy in August 2018. As a result of her diagnosis, she attended mandatory medical appointments every three months for two years and now has appointments every six months.
According to the CDC, uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States, with rates highest among Black women. As researchers noted in the NIEHS study that was released last week, Black women have a tendency to use chemical hair straighteners more frequently and beginning at earlier ages than people of other races.
Per CNN’s report, Mitchell said during a press conference on Monday that, “at the age of 28, my dreams of becoming a mother were gone.” She added that, “As most young African-American girls, chemical relaxers, chemical straighteners were introduced to use at a young age. Society has made it a norm to look a certain way, in order to feel a certain way. And I am the first voice of many voices to come that will stand, stand up to these companies, and say, ‘No more.’”
According to Debrosse Zimmerman, two other individual cases have been filed in California and New York against cosmetic companies—including L’Oreal—over similar claims.
“The fact that these companies targeted Black and Latin women for their own profit motive and without regard to the serious health risks that these hair straightening products cause is a serious wrong that needs to be corrected,” she said in a press statement. “We have commenced this important litigation to seek and obtain justice for those women and their families.”
“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” said Crump. “Black hair has been and always will be beautiful, but Black women have been told they have to use products to meet society’s standards. We will likely discover that Ms. Mitchell’s tragic case is one of countless cases in which companies aggressively misled Black women to increase their profits.
As of press time, L’Oreal has yet to comment on the lawsuit. However, with additional suits being filed against them, it is only a matter of time until they release a statement.