Procter and Gamble Issued a Recall On Dry Shampoos Due to Benzene

A new dry shampoo recall includes Herbal Essences, Pantene, Aussie, and other popular brands.

Woman applying dry spray shampoo on her dirty hair
Photo: Adobe Stock

Dry shampoo is a time-saver, if not a life-saver — but you may still want to toss yours depending on the brand. Procter & Gamble (P&G) issued a recall on certain aerosol dry shampoo and dry conditioner sprays due to contamination with the carcinogen benzene.

The recall includes a variety of products from Pantene, Aussie, Herbal Essences, and Waterl<ss, as well as discontinued products from Old Spice and Hair Food, the parent company announced in a statement. With each, only certain production codes (a code used by manufacturers to identify items) are affected. In other words, your specific bottle isn't necessarily subject to the recall even if the product made the list. You can find the production code at the bottom of each aerosol can; It's the first four digits of the 10-digit number printed, going from left to right. From there, you can check the full list of recalled products with their production codes to find out if yours is included in the P&G recall. (

If you own a product that could be affected, it's definitely worth looking into, since benzene is no joke. "Benzene is a chemical that, when activated with exposure to the skin, blood, or organs, can affect changes in your DNA that cause mutations for cancers," Madhuri Chadha, M.D., founder of Dr. Madh Skin Solutions and radiologist currently working in aesthetic dermatology previously told Shape. Long-term exposure to benzene has been linked to different cancers (including leukemia and cancers of the blood and bone marrow), he went on to note. It can also spark a decrease in red blood cells, which may lead to anemia; irregular menstrual periods; and shrinking of the ovaries, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

It's definitely not something you want to come in contact with just for the sake of refreshing greasy roots, and The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has guidelines in place to keep unsafe levels of benzene out of products. It currently lists benzene as a "Class 1 solvent," meaning it's "known to cause unacceptable toxicities and shouldn't be used in the creation of drugs unless it's considered "unavoidable," and even then should be kept to restricted levels. In that case, benzene concentration shouldn't exceed two parts per million, according to the guidelines. (

Procter & Gamble tested some of its products for benzene due to recent reports of the chemical in other personal care products. (Refresher: Johnson & Johnson recalled sunscreens due to reported benzene contamination this summer, and P&G recalled 59 deodorant and antiperspirant sprays earlier this month.) Benzene isn't intentionally added to products and rather is a possible contaminant, as Procter & Gamble states in its recent announcement. The company hasn't specified the exact concentration of benzene it found in the dry shampoo samples it tested, but states that "based on exposure modeling and the cancer risk assessments published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (IRIS database), daily exposure to benzene in the recalled products at the levels detected in our testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences." (

If you have one of the products affected in the recall, you should stop using it immediately. You can also visit the websites for Aussie, Hair Food, Herbal Essences, Old Spice, Pantene, or Waterl<ss for instructions on reimbursement. And if you feel like this is your sign to steer clear of dry shampoo for a while, here are ways to remedy oily hair without it.

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