7 Cancer-Causing Dry Shampoos to Avoid

What You Need to Watch Out For

Dry shampoo has been a household essential for decades, offering a quick, hassle-free fix for every haircare problem, from grease to bedhead. However, recent studies have shown that countless dry shampoos contain benzene, a cancer-causing chemical that can severely affect individual health.

Over nineteen shampoo products have been recalled over concerns regarding consumer safety in the last year. If you regularly use dry shampoo, read on to find out if it's time to throw out your go-to can of dry shampoo and switch to a natural alternative.

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a known carcinogenic and has been since 1979 when it was first identified as a carcinogenic substance by the International Agency of Research for Cancer. A carcinogenic is a chemical that changes the way the body’s cells behave, sometimes leading to the production of cancerous cells. While benzene is a naturally occurring chemical, regular exposure to elevated levels of this substance can harm the body.

Benzene is most commonly associated with cancers in the blood, such as leukemia. Regular exposure to high levels of benzene can cause a decline in the body’s production of red blood cells, causing illnesses that vary in severity from anemia to leukemia. More research is needed to understand the effects of everyday exposure to benzene through products such as dry shampoo, hand sanitizer and sunscreen, as most of the research surrounding benzene has been conducted on workers who use or make benzene.

A recent independent study conducted by Valisure found that in 148 different batches from 34 popular brands, 70 percent of the samples contained quantifiable levels of benzene. This is in direct violation of the limits outlined by the FDA, which stipulates that benzene should not be used in drug products due to its high levels of toxicity.

The only exception to this rule is if the use of benzene is unavoidable in drug products that pose a significant therapeutic advantage, and even then, it is restricted to a concentration of 2 parts per million. However, Valisure’s study found that several popular brands contained nearly 80 times the FDA concentration limit, thereby elevating the cancer risk associated with the products.

Dove Dry Shampoo

Unilever, Dove’s parent company, voluntarily recalled its dry shampoo products after elevated levels of benzene were found in the aerosol. The recall included several variants of Dove’s dry shampoo: Volume and Fullness, Fresh Coconut, Fresh and Floral, Ultra Clean, Invisible, Detox and Purify, Clarifying Charcoal and Go Active. If you bought any of these products before October 2021 and still have them, Unilever has advised customers to dispose of the aerosol or return it to the store it was purchased from.

Tresemme Dry Shampoo

Tresemme recalled three of its most popular dry shampoo products: Volumizing, Fresh and Clean and Pro Pure Dry Shampoo. Regardless of the size of the can and how much aerosol is left inside it, customers are once again advised to dispose of the product and cease use immediately.

Bed Head Dry Shampoo

Despite receiving praise for its fresh fragrance and the minimal white residue it leaves, Bed Head also had to recall several of its products due to high levels of benzene. The recall included: Oh Bee Hive, Oh Bee Hive Volumizing and Dirty Secret.

Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo

Not Your Mother’s is a company that has spent years promoting itself as an environmentally friendly brand that prioritizes the use of high-quality, clean ingredients. However, they also found themselves under fire after Valisure’s recent independent study found that their dry shampoo included Benzene without the ingredient being listed on the packaging. Their recalled products include Beach Babe Texturizing, Beach Babe Texturizing - Toast Coconut, Clean Freak Refreshing - Original, Clean Freak Refreshing - Unscented, Triple Threat Brunette, Pump for Joy and Blonde Moment.

Herbal Essences Dry Shampoo

Another company that is known for promoting the use of natural ingredients, Herbal Essences, also formed part of the dry shampoo recall, pulling four of its products off shop shelves. Unexpected levels of benzene were found in their Cucumber and Green Tea, White Strawberry and Sweet Mint, Blue Ginger Refresh, White Grapefruit and Mint dry shampoo.

Suave Dry Shampoo

Users of Suave dry shampoo should cease using the product immediately if they bought either Suave Dry Shampoo Hair Refresher or Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo Refresh and Revive before October 2021.

Pantene Dry Shampoo

Alongside Dove, Pantene is one of the largest haircare brands currently available and is known for its quality products. However, Pantene also formed part of the voluntary recall of products last year. Eight of Pantene’s dry shampoo products were recalled, including No Water Refresh, Sheer Volume, Never Tell, Smooth Talker, Mist Behaving, Gold Series Instant Nourishing and Sultry Bronde All in One.

Final Thoughts

Under the advice of various drug administrations, it is best to immediately stop using any of the products listed above and to switch to an alternative that does not include this cancer-causing chemical. While these shampoo products pose a cancer risk, do not panic if you currently use them or have used them in the past. The dry shampoo was recalled as a precautionary measure and though it is not recommended, the levels of benzene in these products are unlikely to have any adverse, long-term effects as long as you cease using it immediately.