Jan 01, 2023

Dark & Lovely and Optimum Hair Relaxer Side Effects Led to Uterine Fibroids, Lawsuit Claims

Posted by : Irvin Jackson

Plaintiff and potentially millions of others used Dark & Lovely and Optimum for years without being warned hair relaxer side effects could lead to uterine fibroids.

  • Hair relaxers like Optimum, Dark & Lovely and other products have been marketed to Black women as safe hair straighteners for decades
  • Recent studies have suggested hair relaxer side effects may cause uterine fibroids, uterine cancer and other injuries
  • Arizona woman indicates that she regularly applied Optimum and Dark & Lovely since she was a teen, and was left with uterine fibroids that required a partial hysterectomy
  • Claim joins dozens of other hair relaxer lawsuits being pursued throughout the federal court system

A product liability lawsuit filed against the makers of Dark & Lovely and Optimum claims side effects of the hair relaxers caused an Arizona woman to develop uterine fibroids, which resulted in the need for a partial hysterectomy.

The complaint (PDF) was brought by Shawnette Hanson in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on December 22, pursuing damages from L’Oreal and its Soft Sheen-Carson subsidiary, for failing to warn about the health risks associated with phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals in the hair straightening products

Hanson joins a growing number of Black women now pursuing hair relaxer lawsuits, following the recent publication of several studies that highlighted side effects associated with perms and chemical straighteners, which have been widely marketed as a safe way to flatten the natural curls in their hair.

In addition to Dark & Lovely and Optimum lawsuits, claims have also been filed against the makers of Just for Me, Motions, Olive Oil and other widely used brands, including lawsuits over uterine fibroids and uterine cancer caused by hair relaxers.

Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

Regular exposure to chemicals in hair relaxer may cause uterine cancer, breast cancer and other injuries. Women diagnosed with cancer may be eligible for settlement benefits.

Hanson indicates she began using Optimum and Dark & Lovely relaxers as a teenager, in about 1992, and continued to do so until she was diagnosed with uterine fibroids in January 2021. As a result of the uterine fibroids caused by hair relaxer chemicals, Hanson indicates she had to undergo a partial hysterectomy.

The lawsuit claims L’Oreal and its subsidiaries knew hair relaxer side effects could cause uterine fibroids, uterine cancer and other reproductive health problems, but failed to warn consumers of the risks.

“There was never any indication, on the Product’s packaging or otherwise, that this normal use could and would cause her to develop uterine fibroids requiring a partial hysterectomy,” the lawsuit notes. “The injuries and damages sustained by Plaintiff Shawnette Hanson were caused by Defendants’ Products.”

Hair Relaxer Uterine Fibroid Risks

Uterine fibroids are usually noncancerous growths in the uterus. Many women develop them during their lives, but often do not know because mild cases sometimes cause no symptoms. However, in other cases, numerous fibroids can appear and cause the uterus to expand, which can lead to pain and other health problems.

Symptoms of uterine fibroids can include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Long-duration menstrual periods lasting more than a week
  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • Constipation
  • Back or leg pain
  • Frequent urination and difficulty emptying the bladder.

In some cases, uterine fibroids have also been linked to infertility or pregnancy loss. It was originally believed that they carried very few health risks, however, in 2017 the FDA warned that potentially as many as one out of every 255 women have uterine fibroids which contain hidden cancer cells.

This revelation led to changes in uterine fibroid removal, with doctors moving away from the use of power morcellators, which could accidentally release the cancerous cells and spread cancer to other parts of a woman’s body.

Now, uterine fibroids are often removed via what is known as a myomectomy, where the fibroids are surgically removed from the wall of the uterus while preserving the uterus the woman’s ability to bear children. However, it does not stop fibroids from recurring later in life.

A hysterectomy is usually only recommended in cases where the fibroids are large, and the procedure leaves the woman unable to have any future children.

Hair Relaxer Cancer Risks

In recent years, studies have been published that make a connection between use of hair relaxer and cancer, raising concerns about the wide spread use of the products by Black and other minority women throughout the U.S.

In October, researchers published findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which warned that ingredients used in the chemical hair relaxers may cause uterine cancer. Researchers found that the rate of uterine cancer was nearly three times greater among women who frequently used hair relaxer chemicals, compared to women who never used the products.

A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Cancer (IJC) issued similar findings, indicating women who reported regularly using straighteners and permanent hair dyes were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer than non-users.

Over an eight year period, researchers identified 2,794 cases of breast cancer after chemical hair straighteners use. The study revealed those who frequently used hair straightener products were at a significantly increased risk of breast cancer, finding women using hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks, had a 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers warned that African American women who reported using permanent hair dyes regularly were associated with a 60% increase of breast cancer diagnosis, compared to an 8% increased risk for Caucasian women.

January 2023 Dark & Lovely and Optimum Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update

Given similar allegations raised in Dark & Lovely lawsuits, Optimum lawsuits and other claims filed throughout the federal court system by women who experienced side effects from hair relaxer chemicals, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has scheduled a hearing for January 26, 2023, to determine whether the claims should all be centralized before one judge has part of a hair relaxer MDL (multidistrict litigation).

Nearly two dozen complaints have been filed in various different U.S. District Courts, and centralizing the litigation would reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and judicial system.

Although it is widely expected that tens of thousands of hair relaxer lawsuits will be filed throughout 2023, L’Oreal, Soft Sheen-Carson and other manufacturers have initially opposed centralizing the claims.

Following the January 2023 hair relaxer lawsuit hearing, if an MDL is established, all cases brought throughout the federal court system will be coordinated during discovery and pretrial management. It is also common for the court to schedule a series of early “bellwether” trials, to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony. However, if hair relaxer settlements are not reached during the MDL proceeding, each individual lawsuit may later be returned back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a future trial date.


Lawyers are reviewing claims for women who developed uterine fibroids, uterine cancer and other injuries caused by hair relaxer side effects.

Tags: Breast Cancer Endometriosis, Chemicals, Dark & Lovely, Hair Relaxer, Hair Straightener, L’Oreal, Optimum, Phthalates, Uterine Cancer, Uterine Fibroids
The post Dark & Lovely and Optimum Hair Relaxer Side Effects Led to Uterine Fibroids, Lawsuit Claims appeared first on AboutLawsuits.com.

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Irvin Jackson