TDry shampoo products, including Not Your Mother’s and Church & Dwight Co’s Batiste, contain high levels of benzenethe cancer-causing chemical that led Unilever to pull its product off shelves in October, according to a new independent study.
Valisure Lab, an analytical laboratory in New Haven, Connecticut, tested 148 batches of 34 brands of spray-on dry shampoo and found that 70% of them contained benzene. The chemical can cause some types of blood cancer, such as leukemia. The company filed a petition Monday with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking to recall products containing the substance.
The findings add to concerns that over-the-counter products in pharmacies and grocery stores across the United States could pose previously undetected health risks. Over the past year, Valisure has found benzene in popular sunscreens, antiperspirants, and hand sanitizers. Stores have pulled products off the shelves, while regulators and manufacturers are looking closely at whether impurities are slipping unnoticed into a complex supply chain.
The highest levels of benzene are found among dry shampoos in a popular brand called Not Your Mother’s, which it promotes “Clean, high quality ingredients.” Other brands found to be high in gasoline included Batiste, Sunboom, and John Paul Mitchell Systems. Valisure petition It didn’t include dry shampoos that had already been recalled for higher gasoline, such as Dove, Suave, and Bed Head, all from Unilever, plus Pantene and Herbal Essences from Procter & Gamble Co., Ltd. The study showed that levels of benzene that Falchero found in some dry shampoos – used to refresh hair between washes – were much higher than any personal care products the lab had tested before.
When asked if Batiste has been tested for gasoline, a spokesperson for Church & Dwight said the company had previously confirmed with ingredient suppliers that its products did not contain the chemical, and said it would evaluate Valisure’s petition. Not Your Mother, Sun Boom, and John Paul Mitchell Systems did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Valisure brings in income through the partnerships it establishes with companies to check the quality of certain products, such as the deal it had with Gojo Industries Inc. Purell hand sanitizer manufacturer. It also has investors, including Realist Ventures, which is also based in Connecticut.
Batiste, Not Your Mother, and Dove are the top-selling dry shampoo brands in the United States, with Batiste accounting for 44% of $309 million in sales in the year ending July 10 among the top 10 brands, according to Chicago-based IRI. Market research company. IRI said sales of dry shampoo were up 22% from the previous year.
Matt Farrell, CEO of Church & Dwight, told investors on an Oct. 28 earnings call that Batiste use was up 37% in the previous year’s third quarter, giving the company a 46% market share. Chief Financial Officer Rick Derker added: “Batisti is growing like crazy. It’s doing great, we can’t meet all the demand, consumption is skyrocketing.”
A spray of one can of Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Dry Shampoo contained 158 parts per million of benzene, according to Valisure results. In previous studies, the lab found sunscreens at up to 6ppm, hand sanitizers at 16ppm and antiperspirants at 18. A pack of Batiste Bare Dry Shampoo contains 15ppm of benzene in one spray. Chronically inhaling benzene at levels of 0.4 parts per billion (.0004 parts per million) over a lifetime can lead to one additional cancer per 100,000 people, the Environmental Protection Agency said, a measure of risk that is also used by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Dry shampoo is not a one-time product that you’re done with,” said David Light, CEO of Valisher. “A lot of people use it once a day, or several times a week.”
The higher numbers beg for questioning statements like the one issued by Unilever when it recalled its Dove, Tresemme, Suave, Bed Head, and Rockaholic dry shampoos on Oct. 18, which states, “Based on an independent health risk assessment, daily exposure to benzene is not expected to cause Products withdrawn at levels detected in testing have adverse health consequences.” Unilever did not respond to questions about the levels of gasoline in its products.
“We saw significant amounts of gasoline in Unilever products before they were recalled,” Light said, declining to specify quantities.
P&G was the first to pull dry shampoo in December, pulling its Pantene and Herbal Essences versions from shelves. The move came after P&G fully tested its aerosol batch after revealing Valisher’s previous business. No other major consumer goods manufacturer has publicly disclosed similar internal testing.
Sunscreens and sanitizers
I found Valisher High levels of gasoline in spray sunscreens, including Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena product versions; aerosol antiperspirants such as the brands Procter & Gamble’s Secret and Old Spice; 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 personal care products are complex endeavors that span the globe, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly where toxins are being introduced.
The problems are likely going back “all the way to contaminating raw materials and making it holistic to the entire global supply chain, through all the different hands it has to touch, all the different quality check points that are supposed to be there,” Al-Nour said. After all, It still ends up on the shelf in the hands of customers, in their homes, with alarmingly high levels of contamination. This is very worrying.”
Some companies have indicated that propellants are the problem. Personal care products, including dry shampoo, often contain propellants such as propane and butane which are petroleum distillates produced 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 there is no gasoline. The US Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that propellants are a potential source of gasoline pollution.
On July 29, Edgewell Personal Care recalled its Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen because it was contaminated with gasoline. “The unexpected levels of gasoline came from propellants spraying the product out of the can,” the company said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked companies that make drug products that are at high risk of contamination with benzene, such as sunscreen, to test for poison.
Dry shampoo is a cosmetic that is regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, but not as strictly as drugs do.
While the Food and Drug Administration has not set limits on benzene for cosmetic products, it does say that products should not contain “any substance that is toxic or harmful.” In drug applications, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows levels of two parts per million of benzene if “use is unavoidable to produce a medicinal product with significant therapeutic advance”.
Valisure has asked the Food and Drug Administration to clarify that there is no acceptable level of benzene in cosmetics and to develop guidelines for testing benzene in cosmetics.
The tester said in the petition that Valisure’s analysis found significant variation in atomizers, even from the same packaging, “indicating inconsistent product formulation and/or atomizer in some products.” 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 shampoo, can be found in her petition to the Food and Drug Administration.
An extensive study showed that contamination may be higher than these results.
Valisure has been testing the presence of benzene in personal care products for some time, but with its dry shampoo probe, researchers have taken 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 accurately capture benzene levels. Syft is headquartered in New Zealand, with an office in Pittsburgh.
When Valture tests a product, it uses a standard procedure that requires placing a sample into a vial. This means that some chemicals may leach out before they are measured. Syft uses a method that detects chemical levels in the air, including whatever is sprayed from an aerosol can. Using Syft data, Valisher determined that actual benzene levels in a spray-on dry shampoo could be 10 times to 50 times what standard testing reveals.
For example, Syft detected benzene levels of 1,600 parts per billion — 4,000 times higher than EPA guidelines — in the initial mist of a 10-second mist of Not Your Mother’s dry shampoo. Long-term exposure showed about 36 parts per billion, with Syft taking measurements in an area of 550 cubic feet over 15 minutes. Using this data, Valisure calculated the concentration of benzene in a canister not your mother’s pack of 340 parts per million, or 170 times the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit for drugs.
Data based on Syft’s results will likely simulate real-world conditions. “This is particularly dangerous,” Light said.
– With assistance from Jonathan Roeder.
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