Recently, an independent laboratory conducted a series of tests on several different dry shampoos, finding that 70% of the tested products contain benzene. Benzene is recognized as a human carcinogen that can cause humans to develop leukemia or other cancers of the blood. Some studies suggest that continued exposure to even low doses of benzene—such as one ppm—can result in someone developing cancer. However, researchers found that certain dry shampoo brands may contain up to 170 times this amount, putting consumers at an increased risk of cancer and other life-changing medical conditions.
If you or a loved one used a dry shampoo product and subsequently developed leukemia or another type of cancer, your condition may be caused by the dry shampoo you’ve been using for years. Unfortunately, there is nothing you could have done to avoid these potentially dangerous products because the manufacturers did not warn consumers of the possibility that their products may contain benzene. In turn, you were entirely prevented from making an educated decision about the products you use and the impact they could have on your health. State and federal law allow victims injured by dangerous products to pursue a legal claim against the manufacturer. To learn more about product liability lawsuits and the case against dry shampoo manufacturers specifically, please see our recent post on the topic here.
What Is Dry Shampoo?
Dry shampoo is a hair care product that absorbs dirt, oil and grease from the scalp without the need to get one’s hair wet. People use dry shampoos for a variety of reasons, typically when they don’t have time for a show (such as post-workout or after your morning commute) or to prolong the life of a blowout.
Dry shampoos usually come in a spray bottle and are primarily made of alcohol or starch. The alcohol or starch soaks up any oil or grease on the scalp, making the user’s hair look cleaner.
Is Dry Shampoo Safe?
The concept of dry shampoo is safe; however, recently, a study conducted by Valisure, an independent laboratory that tests the safety of consumer products, found that approximately 70 percent of dry shampoos that the company tested contained benzene.
Benzene is a colorless or light-yellow liquid when at room temperature. The chemical is primarily used as a solvent when manufacturing chemicals, as well as in gasoline. Benzene is known to cause cancer in humans, and the Food and Drug Administration lists benzene as a “Class 1 solvent” that should not be used because of its unacceptable toxicity. Of course, the FDA understands that, in certain applications, using a limited amount of benzene is necessary. However, even in these applications, FDA regulations provide that there must be no more than two parts per million (“ppm”).
Does Dry Shampoo Contain 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. The results were startling: 70% of samples tested showed quantifiable levels of benzene, and some samples suggested the sprayed product contained up to 170 times the amount of benzene permitted by the Food and Drug Administration.
The recent study indicating that many dry shampoo brands contain benzene is very concerning for those who’ve used these products because being exposed to benzene can cause leukemia and other cancers of the blood.
Which Brands of Dry Shampoos Contain Benzene?
Based on the recent study, many consumers are understandably alarmed to learn that the product they’ve been using contains a known carcinogen. Of the brands tested by researchers, the following are reported to have contained at least some level of benzene,
Of course, the study didn’t test all brands, so it is possible that some dry shampoos that were not listed above may contain benzene. In fact, Unilever, one of the largest consumer product and personal care manufacturers in the world, recently recalled many lines of the company’s dry shampoos over benzene concerns.
Have Any Dry Shampoo Brands Been Recalled?
Yes, recently, Unilever detected potentially elevated levels of benzene in several of the company’s dry shampoos. This prompted the company to issue a voluntary recall in November 2022. The Unilever dry shampoo recall affected 19 of the company’s dry shampoo lines, including:
Bed Head Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo
Bed Head Oh Bee Hive Dry Shampoo
Bed Head Oh Bee Hive Volumizing Dry Shampoo
Bed Head Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo
Dove Dry Shampoo Clarifying Charcoal
Dove Dry Shampoo Detox and Purify
Dove Dry Shampoo Fresh and Floral
Dove Dry Shampoo Fresh Coconut
Dove Dry Shampoo Go Active
Dove Dry Shampoo Invisible
Dove Dry Shampoo Ultra Clean
Dove Dry Shampoo Volume and Fullness
Nexxus Dry Shampoo Refreshing Mist
Nexxus Inergy Foam Shampoo
Suave Dry Shampoo Hair Refresher
Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo Refresh and Revive
Tresemmé Dry Shampoo Fresh and Clean
Tresemmé Dry Shampoo Volumizing
Tresemmé Pro Pure Dry Shampoo
In issuing a voluntary recall, Unilever is offering a refund to consumers for the price they paid for the product. However, for consumers who may have developed cancer from using dry shampoo, a few dollars is not adequate compensation for the potential risks they now face. That said, consumers who believe they have been affected by benzene-containing dry shampoo can also pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the product.
Can Dry Shampoo Users Sue a Hair Care Company?
The discovery that many dry shampoo brands contain the cancer-causing ingredient benzene is very recent, and there have not yet been any large dry shampoo class action lawsuits filed. However, as a general matter, consumers who are injured by a dangerous or defective product can pursue a claim for compensation against the manufacturer by filing a product liability lawsuit.
A product lawsuit claim is a type of personal injury case brought by a consumer who was injured by a company’s product. Most product liability claims are filed against the manufacturer of a product; however, there may be other potentially liable parties, such as distributors, retailers, and others in the product’s distribution chain.
The idea behind a product liability claim is that manufacturers should be held financially responsible for any harm caused by their products. Product liability claims also recognize that manufacturers are in the best—and only—position to ensure the safety of their products and that consumers reasonably assume products are safe for use unless they are warned by the company about potential dangers.
Product liability claims are unlike many other types of personal injury cases, however, because consumers do not need to prove that the manufacturer was legally negligent in order to prove their case. Instead, these cases involve what is referred to as “strict liability.” In this context, a consumer only needs to show that a company’s product was dangerous or defective, or that the company failed to include necessary warnings to consumers given the risks that were present in using the product.
Consumers considering a dry shampoo lawsuit should not take this to mean that these cases are easy to prove. On the contrary, large companies are prepared to defend against any allegations that their product was dangerous or defective. Therefore, consumers interested in learning more about a dry shampoo lawsuit should reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney for assistance.