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Warning: Concerning Levels of Benzene Detected in Dry Shampoo Products


Christopher Bunick, MD, PhD, shares his thoughts on the latest report of concerning levels of benzene, a human carcinogen, found in dry shampoos recalled last month.

Just last week, Unilever voluntarily recalled 6 brands of dry shampoo, including Dove, Nexxus, Suave, Tresemme, Bed Head, and Rockaholic due to potentially elevated levels of benzene. Benzene is a well-known human carcinogen. Now this week, Valisure, an independent laboratory that provides increased transparency and quality assurance throughout the healthcare industry, has detected high levels of benzene in several dry shampoo products and has submitted a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Citizen’s Petition.1

According to Valisure’s report, 70% of samples tested in the recently filed FDA Citizen Petition showed quantifiable levels of benzene. Some samples analyzed directly from contaminated air suggest the sprayed product contained up to 170 times the conditionally restricted FDA concentration limit of 2 parts per million.

In an exclusive interview with Dermatology Times®, Christopher Bunick, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology at Yale University, discusses why Valisure’s report is monumental and urges Congress, personal care manufacturers, and consumers to ask why these products keep being contaminated with concerning levels of benzene.

In Valisure’s report, they found that when specific dry shampoo products were sprayed into the air of a 550 cubic foot room, in the long run, the amount of benzene still in the air from the spray was 36 parts per billion.

“Now, why is that number significant? 36 parts per billion is 90 times higher than the threshold calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the own EPA of the United States, they calculated the threshold of 0.4 parts per billion, inhalation of benzene over a lifetime would lead to one extra case of cancer per 100,000 people. So, the EPA’s threshold 0.4 parts per billion exposure by inhalation to benzene accounts for one extra cancer case per 100,000 population. So, what Valisure found in the ambient air after spraying, the dry aerosolized shampoo was 90-fold higher than this limit.” said Bunick.


  1. Valisure detects high levels of benzene in several dry shampoo products and requests FDA actions. Valisure. Published November 1, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022.
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