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19 Dry Shampoos Recalled Over Cancer Risk. Check If Yours Is One of Them

Unilever detected potentially elevated levels of the human carcinogen benzene in several of its dry shampoo products, prompting the recall.

Unilever dry shampoo bottles
Various dry shampoo aerosol products that may contain elevated levels of benzene have been recalled "out of an abundance of caution."
FDA/Screenshot by CNET

If you use dry shampoo, take a close look at what products you have before spraying them in your hair. Unilever has voluntarily recalled multiple dry shampoo products due to potentially elevated levels of the cancer-causing chemical benzene, according to an announcement from the US Food and Drug Administration in mid-October. 

The consumer goods giant issued the recall after an internal investigation identified the propellant in aerosol cans as the source of the contamination in several of its dry shampoo brands. The company said it has worked with its propellant suppliers to address the issue.

Unilever recalled the following Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head) and Tresemmé dry shampoo aerosols:  

  • Dove Dry Shampoo Volume and Fullness 
  • Dove Dry Shampoo Fresh Coconut
  • Dove Dry Shampoo Fresh and Floral
  • Dove Dry Shampoo Ultra Clean
  • Dove Dry Shampoo Invisible
  • Dove Dry Shampoo Detox and Purify
  • Dove Dry Shampoo Clarifying Charcoal
  • Dove Dry Shampoo Go Active
  • Nexxus Dry Shampoo Refreshing Mist
  • Nexxus Inergy Foam Shampoo
  • Suave Dry Shampoo Hair Refresher 
  • Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo Refresh and Revive
  • Tresemmé Dry Shampoo Volumizing 
  • Tresemmé Dry Shampoo Fresh and Clean
  • Tresemmé Pro Pure Dry Shampoo
  • Bed Head Oh Bee Hive Dry Shampoo
  • Bed Head Oh Bee Hive Volumizing Dry Shampoo
  • Bed Head Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo 
  • Bed Head Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo 

The FDA's press release includes a link to a PDF document detailing the specific sizes, UPC codes and lot codes for each of the recalled shampoos. 

The products were produced prior to October 2021 and distributed throughout the US in retail stores and online. Retailers have been notified to remove the shampoos from their shelves. Unilever has also advised consumers to stop using the recalled shampoos and has set up a website with instructions on how to request a refund for any of the affected products. 

Benzene is a chemical that can cause cancer in humans. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene can lead to cancers such as leukemia and cancer of blood-forming organs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to aerosols, the chemical is often found in common household products like detergents, paints, furniture wax and glues, and exposure can occur through the skin, orally or through inhalation.

"Based on an independent health hazard evaluation, daily exposure to benzene in the recalled products at the levels detected in testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences," the company said in its release. "Unilever US is recalling these products out of an abundance of caution. Unilever has received no reports of adverse events to date relating to this recall."

Benzene has recently been linked to recalls for other personal care products like sunscreensaerosol deodorants and children's hand sanitizer.

Valisure, a Connecticut-based independent testing laboratory that has previously detected benzene in various consumer products, filed an FDA citizen petition on Oct. 31 and issued a press release saying that it detected the carcinogen in 70% of dry shampoo samples it tested, from multiple companies. Valisure's petition doesn't list any dry shampoo products where it's "aware of active manufacturer efforts to address benzene contamination in the affected products," including those recalled by Unilever.

A citizen petition is a means by which an individual or organization can request changes in health regulations from the FDA. Among other things, Valisure's petition asks the agency to request recalls for the products listed and to review and update regulations and guidance related to the use of impurities like benzene in consumer cosmetic products. 

Of the samples that Valisure tested and included in the petition, some potentially contained benzene levels as high as 170 times the FDA's concentration limit of two parts per million, the laboratory said. 

"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," Valisure CEO David Light said in the release. "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."

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.