Companies recall dry shampoo brands amid lab’s benzene report

Just when dry shampoo seemed like the holy grail of non-hair-washing, an independent lab has found that at least 34 different brands contained “quantifiable” amounts of benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer. The New Haven-based Valisure found that in 70% of the 148 samples they tested, benzene levels were 170 times higher than the FDA-approval level, which is two parts per million, or two milligrams per litre of a liquid.

In response to the lab’s benzene report, Unilever voluntarily recalled some of its Dove, Suave, Nexxus, TIGI and TRESemmé dry shampoos. On October 31, Valisure submitted a citizens’ petition to the FDA requesting that it request recalls of the remaining brands that Valisure found to have high levels of the chemical. According to CNN, the FDA typically takes 180 days to respond to such petitions. 

Companies recall dry shampoo brands amid lab’s benzene report

Last year, Valisure detected high levels of it in a range of spray-on sunscreens, which prompted the FDA to investigate a wider range of brands of products. Their findings were considerable and led to recalls of sunscreens, aerosol deodorants, aerosol athlete’s foot treatments and a few dry shampoos. Some companies recalled their products proactively, while others were later mandated to do so. As a result, at least one company, Banana Boat sunscreen, became the defendant in a class action lawsuit.

At room temperature, benzene is colorless or light yellow, and is used as a solvent in products from glue and paint to detergents and furniture wax. In the case of beauty products, it’s not an ingredient but instead forms as a byproduct once a liquid is bottled. In fact, it’s nearly everywhere in the environment, and trace amounts aren’t necessarily harmful.

Benzene occurs naturally in forest fires, volcanoes, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. Prolonged, repeated exposure—considered to be a year or more of high levels—is rare but with aerosols, the danger is inhaling particles indoors.

“The detection of high levels of benzene in dry shampoos should be cause for significant concern since these products are likely used indoors, where benzene may linger and be inhaled for prolonged periods of time,” said David Light, Valisure CEO, in a statement.

“These and other issues identified by Valisure, including the detection of benzene in body spray, hand sanitizer, and sunscreen products, strongly underscore the importance of independent testing and its need to be better integrated into an increasingly complex and vulnerable global supply chain.”

Do you use dry shampoo? Will Valisure’s findings impact your choice? Let us know below.


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