What's The Real Problem With Benzene, The Ingredient In Recalled Dry Shampoos?

Far too often have we all found ourselves in this position. You get hooked on a brand-new beauty product, it becomes your holy grail, and you can no longer live without it. When all of a sudden it turns out you have no choice but to let it go because of a recall. Who hasn't lived through that anxiety-ridden rush of doing the calculations in your mind of when you bought said item and cross-referencing the production dates that have been recalled? Only recently, Huda Beauty's eyeshadow palettes were clocked for a strategically masked warning claiming the eyeshadow, as in the powder you apply to your eyes, was not designed for use on eyes, per Dazed Digital. For some reason, beauty companies just can not seem to get it together and avoid practically carcinogenic ingredients, so we all have to suffer. 

Of course, sometimes the type of product doesn't seem like it can do a lot of damage. But when it's something you practically inhale on a daily basis like dry shampoo, it is cause for concern. Try as you might, no one can quite avoid that cloud of product in the air quickly followed by a brief coughing fit. But it smells so good, so we deal with it. That is until we're told that this air we so deeply inhale contains a seriously harmful ingredient. Now it's time to pay closer attention and set that aerosol can down.

Benzene serves no purpose in dry shampoos

As with any good beauty news story, this one gained relevance when it began to circulate on TikTok. But where it really began was when all of a sudden the US Food and Drug Administration announced that popular beauty brands like Dove, Nexxus, and Tresemmé would recall a selection of 19 dry shampoos total, per CNET. The recall was described as being due to the dry shampoos containing elevated levels of benzene. Unilever was quick to clear up any concerns by announcing that this was a precautionary recall, "Unilever US is recalling these products out of an abundance of caution. Unilever has received no reports of adverse events to date relating to this recall," per CNET.

But what is benzene, and how concerned should you be? Well, benzene actually has no business being in dry shampoo and it plays no role in the product's efficacy. Professor of environmental engineering at UC Davis, Chris Kappa explains that benzene was found in the dry shampoos due to unwanted residues making their way through with the butane and not getting fully separated as they should be, per Harper's Bazaar.

Benzene is a crude oil at baseline, and, in fact, it's naturally found in volcanoes and cigarette smoke, per CNN. It is merely used due to its ability to adhere to butane, which is often used in aerosol products. Benzene has been proven to actually cause blood cancers, so it's of course jarring to think about considering how much dry shampoo we inhale by default, per Time.