Unilever has recalled dry shampoo aerosol products sold across the nation due to elevated levels of benzene, a known carcinogen. The recent recall is the newest of half a dozen in this year alone. Benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, has shown up in several product recalls, including those for deodorant, hand sanitizer, and sunscreen.
For the current recall, certain Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI, and TRESemmé aerosol dry shampoos showed the potential presence of benzene. These products were produced prior to October 2021 and were distributed to retailers nationwide. Products include Dove Dry Shampoo Volume and Fullness, Nexxus Dry Shampoo Refreshing Mist, Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo Refresh and Revive, and Dove Dry Shampoo Fresh Coconut.
What Is Benzene?
To put it simply: benzene is a bad molecule for you. It tops the FDA’s list of about 70 solvents to avoid, and there is no argument about whether or not it can cause cancer in humans. Exposure to benzene can occur via inhalation, orally, and through the skin. Too much exposure can result in certain cancers, including leukemia and blood cancer, according to the recall notice. This isn’t to say that people who used one or more of the recalled products containing benzene will get cancer, though. It is, however, a problematic compound that you should keep an eye out for when purchasing products. Even small amounts of benzene can lead to major consequences. For example, there was a global recall of Perrier after benzene was found in bottles of that mineral water 30 years ago.
It is important to note that benzene was not an ingredient in any of the recalled products. Scientists believe that it came about as the result of other petroleum products like butane. If butane is not refined properly, it can end up containing other components, including benzene. The more scientists examined the recalled products, though, the more benzene they found. There were petitions in 2021 to recall products after studies detected benzene in 54% of the 108 batches from 30 brands of body spray products. According to an internal probe by Unilever, the propellant was identified as the source. The company is currently working with propellant suppliers to address the issue.
Benzene Is Very Common
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed that benzene is one of the most commonly made products in the U.S. It is present in gasoline and cigarette smoke. Common exposure to benzene is by breathing the chemical in the air, but absorbing it through the skin is very easy. It seems that the most common products that get recalled for possible benzene presence are aerosol products. For example, Unilever recalled two Suave 24-hour protection aerosol antiperspirants in March 2022. Procter & Gamble also recalled aerosol dry shampoo and condition spray products from six brands sold nationwide in December 2021.
What Should You Do?
If you have any of the dry shampoos mentioned in this article, you should stop using them immediately. Consider avoiding products from Unilever, as this is the second recall this year involving products possibly containing benzene. Unilever is a conglomerate that sells about 400 products worldwide, from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Additionally, L’Oréal and other parties are being sued over claims about chemical hair-straightening products that increase women’s risk of uterine cancer.