Popular Dry Shampoos Found to Have Cancer-Causing Chemical (2023)

Top-selling dry shampoos including Not Your Mother’s and Church & Dwight Co.’s Batiste contain high levels of benzene, the cancer-causing chemical that led Unilever to yank its product from shelves in October, according to a new independent study.

Valisure, a New Haven, Connecticut-based analytical laboratory, tested 148 batches from 34 brands of spray-on dry shampoo and found that 70% contained benzene. The chemical can cause certain blood cancers, such as leukemia. The company filed a petition Monday with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking to have the products that contain the substance recalled.

The results add to concerns that products sold over the counter in pharmacies and grocery stores across the U.S. could present previously undetected health risks. Over the past year, Valisure has found benzene in popular spray sunscreens, antiperspirants, and hand sanitizers. Stores have pulled the products from shelves, while regulators and manufacturers are looking more closely at whether impurities are slipping by unnoticed in a complex supply chain.

Read More: The Safest Sunscreens to Buy—and Which Ingredients to Avoid

The highest benzene levels among the dry shampoos were found in a popular brand called Not Your Mother’s, which touts its “clean, quality ingredients.” Other brands found to have elevated benzene included Batiste, Sun Bum, and John Paul Mitchell Systems. Valisure’s petition didn’t include dry shampoos already recalled for elevated benzene, such as Dove, Suave and Bed Head, all from Unilever, as well as Procter & Gamble Co.’s Pantene and Herbal Essences. The benzene levels Valisure found in some of the dry shampoos—used to freshen up hair between washes—are significantly higher than any personal-care products the lab has tested before, the study showed.

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(Video) Popular dry shampoos recalled over potential cancer-causing chemical

When asked if Batiste had been tested for benzene, a spokesperson for Church & Dwight said the company had previously confirmed with its ingredient suppliers that their products didn’t contain the chemical and said it would evaluate Valisure’s petition. Not Your Mother’s, Sun Bum, and John Paul Mitchell Systems didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Valisure brings in income by partnerships it has with businesses to check the quality of certain products, such as a deal it has with Gojo Industries Inc., the maker of Purell hand sanitizer. It also has investors, including Realist Ventures, which is also based in Connecticut.

Top sellers

Batiste, Not Your Mother’s and Dove are the top selling dry shampoo brands in the U.S., with Batiste making up 44% of the $309 million in sales in the year ending July 10 amongst the top 10 brands, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. Dry shampoo sales were up 22% from a year earlier, IRI said.

Church & Dwight Chief Executive Officer Matt Farrell told investors on an earnings call Oct. 28 that Batiste use was up 37% in the third quarter from a year earlier, giving the company a 46% market share. Chief Financial Officer Rick Dierker added: “Batiste is growing like crazy. It’s doing fantastic, we can’t meet all the demand, consumption is up dramatically.”

A spray from one can of Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe dry shampoo contained 158 parts per million of benzene, according to Valisure’s findings. In previous studies, the lab found sunscreens with up to 6 parts per million, hand sanitizers with 16 parts per million and antiperspirants with 18. A can of Batiste Bare Dry Shampoo contained 15 parts per million of benzene in one spray. The Environmental Protection Agency has said inhaling benzene at levels of 0.4 parts per billion (.0004 parts per million) chronically over a lifetime could result in one additional cancer per 100,000 people, a measure of risk the FDA also uses.

Read More: Your Gas Stove May Be Leaking Benzene Into Your Kitchen—Even When It’s Off

“Dry shampoo is not a product you use one time and are done with it,” said David Light, CEO of Valisure. “A lot of people use it once a day, or a few times a week.”

(Video) 19 dry shampoos recalled over potential cancer-causing ingredient | GMA

The high numbers call into question statements like the one Unilever made when it recalled Dove, Tresemme, Suave, Bed Head, and Rockaholic dry shampoos on Oct. 18, stating that, “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.” Unilever didn’t respond to questions about the levels of benzene found in its products.

“We had seen significant amounts of benzene in Unilever products before they went on recall,” Light said, declining to specify amounts.

P&G was the first to recall dry shampoo in December, pulling Pantene and Herbal Essences versions from shelves. The move came after P&G tested its entire aerosol portfolio following the revelations from Valisure’s previous work. No other major consumer-goods manufacturer has publicly disclosed similar internal testing.

Sunscreens, sanitizers

Valisure has found high benzene levels in spray sunscreens, including versions of Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena products; aerosol antiperspirants such as Procter & Gamble’s Secret and Old Spice brands; and some hand sanitizers that were introduced to the market at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The supply chains that bring consumers their grooming products are complex, globe-spanning endeavors, making it difficult to determine precisely where the toxins are introduced.

The problems potentially go back “all the way back to a raw material being contaminated and making it thorough the entire global supply chain, through all the various hands it has to touch, and all the various quality check points that are supposed to be there,” Light said. After all that, “it’s still ending up on the shelf in a customer’s hands, in their homes, with such alarmingly high levels of contamination. That’s very concerning.”

Some companies have pointed to propellants as the problem. Spray personal-care products, including dry shampoos, often contain propellants like propane and butane that are petroleum distillates made by refining crude oil. Benzene is a known contaminant of petroleum products. The propane and butane used in personal-care products are supposed to be purified so that no benzene is present. The FDA has confirmed propellants are a potential source of benzene contamination.

On July 29, Edgewell Personal Care Co. recalled its aerosol Banana Boat Hair & Scalp sunscreen because of benzene contamination. The company said the “unexpected levels of benzene came from the propellant that sprays the product out of the can.”

(Video) Popular Dry Shampoos Found to Have Cancer-Causing Chemical.

The FDA has asked companies that make drug products at high risk of being contaminated with benzene, like sunscreen, to test for the toxin.

Dry shampoo is a cosmetic, which the FDA regulates, but not nearly as stringently as it does drugs.

No limits

While the FDA hasn’t set benzene limits for cosmetics, it does say the products shouldn’t contain “any poisonous or deleterious substance.” In drug applications, the FDA allows levels of 2 parts per million of benzene if “use is unavoidable in order to produce a drug product with a significant therapeutic advance.”

Valisure has asked the FDA to clarify that there isn’t an acceptable level of benzene in cosmetic products and to develop guidelines for benzene testing in cosmetics.

Valisure’s analysis found extreme variation in sprays, even from the same can, “suggesting inconsistent product composition and/or aerosolization in some products,” the lab said in the petition. While Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak dry shampoo contained 143 parts per million of benzene in the first spray, the fourth spray contained 93 parts per million. Valisure’s findings, including a list of contaminated dry shampoos, can be found in the petition it filed with the FDA.

The contamination could be even higher than those findings, an expanded study showed.

Valisure has been testing for benzene in personal-care products for some time, but with its dry-shampoo probe, the researchers took a deeper approach. The lab partnered with Syft Technologies, a company that designs and sells trace gas analysis equipment, to conduct direct air-measurement tests, which can more precisely capture benzene levels. Syft is headquartered in New Zealand, with an office in Pittsburgh.

When Valisure tests a product, it uses a standard procedure that requires putting a sample into a vial. This means some chemicals may escape before they’re measured. Syft uses a method that detects chemical levels in the air, including whatever is sprayed from an aerosol can. Using Syft’s data, Valisure determined it’s possible the actual benzene levels in spray-on dry shampoo could be 10 times to 50 times higher than what standard testing reveals.

(Video) Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in Hundreds of Popular Brand Shampoos

For example, Syft found benzene levels of 1,600 parts per billion—4,000 times higher than the EPA’s guidance—in the initial cloud of a 10-second spray of Not Your Mother’s dry shampoo. Longer-term exposure showed about 36 parts per billion, with Syft taking measurements in a 550 cubic foot space over 15 minutes. Using that data, Valisure calculated the benzene concentration in the Not Your Mother’s can totaled 340 parts per million, or 170 times the FDA’s limit for drugs.

Data based on Syft’s findings likely more closely mimic real-world conditions. “This is particularly dangerous,” Light said.

—With assistance from Jonathan Roeder.

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(Video) Recall alert: Dry shampoos may contain cancer-causing chemical | WHIO-TV


What brand of dry shampoo is being recalled? ›

Dove Dry Shampoo Clarifying Charcoal. Dove Dry Shampoo Go Active. Nexxus Dry Shampoo Refreshing Mist. Nexxus Inergy Foam Shampoo.

Which dry shampoo has elevated levels of benzene? ›

Yes, a 2022 study conducted by Valisure found that 70 percent of those dry shampoos that were tested by the company contained benzene. The study analyzed 148 unique batches of dry shampoo from 34 different brands, which is a significant portion of the market.

Is Batiste dry shampoo cancer-causing? ›

Church & Dwight Co. has been hit with a proposed class action after some of its Batiste-brand dry shampoos were reportedly found to be contaminated with “dangerously high” levels of benzene, a carcinogen that has been linked to leukemia and other cancers.

What is even more dry shampoos found to have cancer-causing agent? ›

Group Finds 70% of Dry Shampoos Tested Had Cancer-Causing Chemical. An independent laboratory showed high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, in 70% of dry shampoo samples tested. The amount of benzene in each shampoo varied across brands and different batches of products in the same brand.

Which dry shampoos do not contain benzene? ›

The 7 Best Benzene-Free Dry Shampoos & Alternatives That Will Have Your Hair Looking & Feeling Fresh
  • Hair Co-Wash. ...
  • Eva NYC Freshen Up Invisible Dry Shampoo. ...
  • GRO Dry Shampoo. ...
  • Floof Dry Shampoo. ...
  • ACURE Dry Shampoo - All Hair Types. ...
  • Plant Based Dry Shampoo. ...
  • Prêt-à-Powder Dry Shampoo Powder.
Nov 14, 2022

Is Batiste being recalled? ›

Top-selling dry shampoos such as Not Your Mother's and Church & Dwight Co.'s Batiste contain high levels of benzene, the cancer-causing chemical that led Unilever to yank its product from shelves in October, according to a new independent study.

What dry shampoos are on the FDA recall list? ›

The FDA issued the voluntary recall on "dry shampoo aerosol products produced prior to October 2021 from Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head), and TRESemmé due to potentially elevated levels of benzene."

How do I know if my dry shampoo has benzene? ›

Here are some tips:
  1. Check the ingredients list. On a bottle of Not Your Mother's Beach Babe, the brand Valisure found the highest levels of benzene in, the first two ingredients are isobutane and propane. ...
  2. Spot propellants. ...
  3. When in doubt, ditch the aerosols.
Nov 1, 2022

What is the number one bad ingredient in shampoo? ›

Out of all the shampoo ingredients that are harmful, formaldehyde may be the scariest. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and has been proven to be absorbed through the skin in animal testing. Manufacturers often add it directly as a preservative.

Is Batiste dry shampoo safe 2023? ›

The Answer is No: Here's Why. This recall was because P&G performed an internal analysis of their dry shampoo products and found detectable levels of benzene—a highly carcinogenic compound.

What major shampoo brands were recalled over cancer causing chemical? ›

Unilever has recalled certain Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI and TRESemmé aerosol dry shampoos because of the potential presence of benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer.

Does Batiste still have benzene? ›

"When propellants had been reported to be the source of benzene in competitors' recalled products, we contacted our propellant suppliers and confirmed with those suppliers that the propellants used in our Batiste products do not contain benzene," a company spokesperson said in a statement.

What was the ingredient in dry shampoo that was recalled? ›

Recently, several dry shampoo products have been voluntarily recalled. Benzene, a known cancer-causing ingredient, has been found in excess in several common household dry shampoo products. Benzene has been linked to leukemia and several other blood cancers.

What shampoo does not have cancer-causing ingredients? ›

List of Safe Shampoo and Conditioner Brands
  • Odele.
  • Ursa Major.
  • 100% Pure.
  • SheaMoisture.
  • Hello Bello.
  • Clean Clean.
  • Kelsen.
  • Yodi.

Is Batiste safe to use? ›

Yes, all Batiste products are safe to use across the hair color spectrum! And by washing your hair less, you can help extend your hair color.

Does Pantene shampoo have benzene in it? ›

"While benzene is not an ingredient in any of our products, our review showed that unexpected levels of benzene came from the propellant that sprays the product out of the can," Procter & Gamble said, adding it initiated a review after other companies issued similar recalls.

What dry shampoos are recalled by Unilever? ›

Dry shampoo aerosol products produced prior to October 2021 from brands including Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head), and TRESemmé are included in the recall.

Which Batiste has benzene? ›

Top-selling dry shampoos including Not Your Mother's and Church & Dwight Co.'s Batiste contain high levels of benzene, the cancer-causing chemical that led Unilever to yank its product from shelves in October, according to a new independent study.

Is Dove Dry Shampoo safe? ›

Last year was a tough one for dry shampoo lovers. We learned that an independent lab found top brands were contaminated with benzene, a potent carcinogen. Some brands like Pantene and Dove have already been recalled because of benzene.

Does Batiste original contain benzene? ›

Batiste dry shampoo contains dangerously high levels of benzene, a carcinogenic impurity that has been linked to leukemia and other cancers, a new class action lawsuit alleges. Plaintiffs Eden Amadril and Ariana Skurauskis filed the class action complaint against Church & Dwight Co.

Why is Dove dry shampoo being recalled? ›

Unilever Issues Voluntary U.S. Recall of Select Dry Shampoos Due to Potential Presence of Benzene | FDA.

What hair products are being recalled right now? ›

In 2021, several aerosol spray haircare products were recalled because they may contain benzene, which is a known cancer-causing chemical, according to CBS News. The recalled products included dry shampoos and conditioners from well-known brands like Pantene, Herbal Essences, Hair Food, Old Spice, and Aussie.

Which shampoos contain benzene? ›

The highest benzene levels among the dry shampoos were found in a popular brand called Not Your Mother's. Other brands found to have elevated benzene included Batiste, Sun Bum, John Paul Mitchell Systems and Church & Dwight Co.'s Batiste.

What is another name for benzene? ›

Other names for benzene and benzene derivatives include:

cyclohexa-1,3,5-triene. phenol. 1,3,5-cyclohexatriene. toluene.

What beauty products contain benzene? ›

Although benzene has recently been detected in antiperspirant and deodorant body spray, the independent laboratory Valisure found this highly toxic solvent in other consumer products over the last year, such as hand sanitizer, sunscreen, dry shampoo, and antifungal spray.

What is the best chemical free shampoo? ›

The Best Non-Toxic and Natural Shampoos and Conditioners
  • True Botanicals (best of the best winner)
  • Innersense Beauty.
  • BeautyCounter (second best winner)
  • Acure Organics.
  • Rahua.
  • Josh Rosebrook.
  • Dessert Essence (best budget-friendly winner)
  • Evolvh (color treated or curly hair)
Nov 5, 2021

What kind of shampoos should I avoid? ›

Here are some shampoo ingredients you want to avoid:
  • Sulfates: they increase skin sensitivity and strip hair of their natural oils, causing dryness.
  • Parabens: they increase the risk of skin cancer.
  • Phthalates: they are dangerous to the environment and cause hormonal disruptions.
Nov 27, 2021

Why did Batiste change their formula? ›

Batiste Dry Shampoo refreshes the hair between washes. The new formula upgrade is designed with longer-lasting freshness and added keratin to support hair health. The new packaging showcases fun designs and delivers the "instant hair refresh" consumers have come to know and love.

Did Batiste Dry Shampoo change their formula? ›

The Batiste dry shampoo range has been reformulated and enhanced by the brand to keep it relevant with consumers who are becoming more stringent of the products they use everyday.

How often can you safely use dry shampoo? ›

Experts recommend using it no more than 2 days in a row. They also recommend using it for no more than 3 months at a time, to avoid scalp and hair damage. There are many types of dry shampoo. Some add volume to your hair.

What ingredient in dry shampoo is harmful? ›

High levels of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, have been detected in more brands and batches of dry shampoo products, according to a new report from Valisure, an independent laboratory.

Is TRESemmé dry shampoo bad for you? ›

Popular brands of dry shampoo recalled due to elevated levels of cancer causing chemical. NEW YORK -- Several brands of dry shampoo are being recalled because of potentially elevated levels of benzene, which can cause cancer. The brands include Dove, Nexxus, Suave and Tresemme.

Does Dove soap contain benzene? ›

Benzene is a known contaminant of petroleum products.

New Delhi: Unilever has recalled popular brands of aerosol dry shampoo, including Dove, after discovering they were contaminated with a chemical called benzene that can cause cancer.

What products are recalled with benzene? ›

The affected aerosol products include some of the world's biggest brand names, including certain lots of Neutrogena, Aveeno, Banana Boat and Coppertone sunscreens; Sure, Brut, Suave, Secret and Old Spice deodorants; Dove, Nexxus, Suave, Tresemmé and Bed Head dry shampoos; and Tinactin and Odor Eaters foot sprays.

Does Dove deodorant have benzene? ›

Lab Discovers Benzene in Major Underarm Sprays Brands Like Old Spice, Secret, Dove, and Axe In addition To Spray Sunscreen.

Is dry shampoo safe cancer? ›

Valisure just finished a study on popular dry shampoo brands and found 70% of dry shampoo samples tested had benzene in them. Frequently inhaling benzene at levels of 0.4 parts per billion over time could cause cancer per 100,000 people, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

What shampoo do cancer patients use? ›

Use baby shampoo or other mild shampoo (such as Aveeno® or Vanicream™). You should also use a cream rinse or hair conditioner. Use shampoos and conditioners that have sunscreen to prevent sun damage to your scalp. Always rinse your hair well and pat it dry with a soft towel.

What chemical found in shampoo is linked to breast cancer? ›

Parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in hair and other personal care products. Parabens cause breast cancer cells to grow, invade, spread and express genes linked to cancer and to hormone action.

What is the number one shampoo for hair loss? ›

Biolage Advanced Full Density Thickening Shampoo

This gentle shampoo earns the number one spot on this list due to its ability to remove buildup that tends to clog hair follicles and create a less-than-ideal environment for your hair to grow.

What toxins cause hair loss? ›

Poisons that can cause hair loss include arsenic, thallium, mercury, and lithium. If you ingest a large amount of warfarin, which is found in rat poisons, it can also cause hair loss. Taking large amounts of vitamin A or selenium is also toxic and can cause hair loss.

What hormone causes hair loss? ›

DHT: The hormone behind hair loss

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is made from testosterone by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. It can also be made from DHEA, a hormone more common in women. DHT is found in skin, hair follicles, and the prostate.

Which dry shampoos did Unilever recall due to benzene? ›

FMCG giant Unilever has voluntarily recalled several brands of dry shampoo aerosol products, including Dove and Tresemmé, after having discovered that they contained “potentially elevated levels of benzene,” a chemical that can cause cancer.

What hair products are on recall? ›

Oct. 2022 Unilever recalls some lots of Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TRESemmé, Rockaholic and Bed Head dry shampoos.

What dry shampoo is recalled CBS News? ›

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 last week by the FDA. (See here for a complete list of recalled products and UPC codes.)

What is the safest shampoo on the market? ›

List of Safe Shampoo and Conditioner Brands
  • 100% Pure.
  • SheaMoisture.
  • Hello Bello.
  • Clean Clean.
  • Kelsen.
  • Yodi.
  • Rahua.
  • Annmarie Skin Care.

How do I know if my dry shampoo was recalled? ›

If you're concerned that you purchased a dry shampoo recalled by Unilever, you can obtain information by visiting UnileverRecall.com. For additional questions surrounding Unilever's recall, call Unilever U.S. at (877) 270-7412, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

What brands contain benzene? ›

Deodorants and anti-perspirants with the highest levels of benzene include Sure, Old Spice, Secret, Equate, Right Guard, Tag and Brut, according to research. Sunscreens (both spray-on and lotion) that had a strong amount of the chemical include Neutrogena, CVS, Sun Bum, Raw Elements and Banana Boat, the data showed.

What is the carcinogen in dry shampoo? ›

Benzene, a known cancer-causing ingredient, has been found in excess in several common household dry shampoo products. Benzene has been linked to leukemia and several other blood cancers.

What is the news on Dove dry shampoo? ›

According to US FDA, the Dove dry shampoos - particularly manufactured before October 2021 - contain higher levels of benzene that may cause “leukemia and blood cancer of the bone marrow and blood disorders which can be life threatening”.

Which shampoos have benzene in them? ›

Was there a dry shampoo recall? In October 2022, Unilever recalled certain dry shampoos, including products branded as Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI, and TRESemme, due to the presence of benzene.

What are the worst chemicals for your hair? ›

Read on to find out what 5 common hair product chemicals you should avoid.
  1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This notorious hair product chemical is number one for a reason. ...
  2. Parabens (Propyl, Methyl, and Butyl) ...
  3. Propylene Glycol. ...
  4. Formaldehyde. ...
  5. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

What hair sprays have benzene in them? ›

The consumer product giant Unilever has recalled more than 300 lots of aerosol dry shampoo from its Dove, Nexxus, Suave, Rockaholic, Bed Head, and TRESemmé brands, citing “potentially elevated levels of benzene.” Dry shampoos generally use starches to absorb oily substances in hair without the need for a water rinse.

What are some bad hair brands? ›

[10] Drugstore Shampoo Brands You Should Avoid If You Love Your...
  • Tresemme. Tresemmé Products don't make the list because their shampoos contain sulfates and silicon, as well as other harmful ingredients that can cause damage to the hair and scalp. ...
  • Head and shoulders. ...
  • Elvive. ...
  • Pantene. ...
  • Aussie. ...
  • OGX. ...
  • Garnier. ...
  • Herbal Essences.


1. Cancer-Causing Benzene Found in Many Dry Shampoos | Dr. David Reacts
(Dr. David MD)
2. Shocking Levels of Cancer-Causing Benzene Found in Beauty Products
(The Doctors)
3. 19 dry shampoos recalled over potential cancer-causing ingredient
(6abc Philadelphia)
4. 19 dry shampoos recalled over potential cancer-causing ingredient
(ABC 7 Chicago)
5. Dry shampoo recalled for toxic chemical that could cause cancer
(FOX 29 Philadelphia)
6. 19 dry shampoos recalled over potential cancer-causing ingredient
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