The New Journos

Dry shampoo recalled over potential cancer-causing ingredient

Unilever says it’s recalling dry shampoo aerosol products sold nationwide because they may contain elevated levels of benzene, a human carcinogen. The recall is the latest of half a dozen so far this year, with the cancer-causing chemical showing up in products including deodorant, hand sanitizer and sunscreen.

The latest recall includes dry shampoo aerosol products made before October 2021 from brands Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head), and TRESemmé, the company said in a notice published on Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A complete list of affected products and UPC codes can be found here.

An internal probe identified the propellant as the source and Unilever worked with its propellant suppliers to address the issue, it stated. 

Those who purchased the affected aerosol dry shampoo products should stop using them and visit for reimbursement instructions. 

Photo of some products recalled by Unilever.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The recall is the second this year for Unilever involving a product possibly containing benzene. The conglomerate sells roughly 400 products around the globe, from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Exposure to benzene can result in cancers including leukemia and blood cancer of the blood marrow, as well as life-threatening blood disorders. Daily exposure to benzene in the recalled products at the levels detected in testing “would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences,” Unilever said.

Commonly found chemical

One of the most commonly made chemicals in the U.S., benzene is present in gasoline and cigarette smoke, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People are most typically exposed by breathing the chemical in the air, but they can also absorb it into their bodies by touching petroleum products, or by eating or drinking contaminated food or beverages. 

Unilever in late March recalled two Suave 24-hour protection aerosol antiperspirants after an internal review found slightly elevated levels of benzene in some samples. 

Four other companies have recalled products this year after finding benzene in samples, and more than half a dozen recalls came for the same reason last year

In December, for instance, Procter & Gamble recalled aerosol dry shampoo and conditioner spray products from six brands sold nationwide after finding benzene in some of them. 

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