Unilever U.S. recently issued news saying that it will recall dry shampoos produced before October 2021 due to the possible presence of benzene in the products, involving brands such as Dove, Nexxus, SuaveTIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head), and TRESemmé.
Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen and exposure to benzene can occur by inhalation, orally, and through the skin and may lead to cancer, including leukemia and bone marrow blood cancers, as well as potentially life-threatening blood disorders. According to Unilever’s internal investigation, the problem with the recalled products originated from the propellant, and Unilever has now worked with its propellant supplier to resolve the problem.
However, it also said that according to an independent health hazard assessment, the daily exposure levels of benzene in the recalled products are not expected to cause adverse health effects. Unilever U.S. has chosen to recall these products out of an abundance of caution. To date, it has not received any reports of adverse events related to this recall.
The recalled products were distributed nationwide in the U.S. and Canada, and Unilever has now notified retailers to remove the recalled products from their shelves. Consumers who have purchased the products will receive a refund or reimbursement.
This is not the first time Unilever has recalled products due to the presence of benzene. In March, it issued an emergency recall of two antiperspirant products because of “slightly elevated” levels of benzene in some samples, according to an internal investigation that showed the benzene came from the bottle’s push spray.
Other top brands have also recalled products containing benzene.
Johnson & Johnson voluntarily recalled 5 sunscreen products in July 2021, involving sunscreen sprays and lotions of Neutrogena and Aveeno. It said an internal test found small amounts of benzene, a potential carcinogen, in some of the spray products and advised consumers to stop using or discard them.
In addition, P&G had voluntarily recalled some dry conditioner and shampoo sprays sold in the U.S. and Canada under the Pantene and Herbal Essences brands last December, according to Reuters. While it did not disclose the number of products recalled but said the recalled products accounted for less than 1 percent of its overall hair care products.
According to the information, in the process of cosmetic preparation or raw material production, trace amounts of benzene are inevitably introduced for technical reasons, and it is necessary to evaluate the safety of benzene in cosmetics to ensure that under normal, reasonable, and predictable conditions there is no risk to human health.
Currently, China has issued cosmetic class specifications Inventory of Existing Cosmetic Ingredients in China 2021 and Safety and Technical Standards for Cosmetics 2015, etc., has made hundreds of benzene substances banned, restricted norms, such as banned benzo[а]pyrene and restricted resorcinol, etc.
In order to strengthen the management of safety risk substances in cosmetics, on March 10, 2022, the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control issued a notice seeking comments on the limit values of benzene in cosmetics. According to the results of the relevant risk assessment, the proposed limit value of benzene in cosmetics is 2mg/kg.