The Dark Side of Dry Shampoo: Beware of Benzene

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Dry shampoo can be a real lifesaver, especially on those days when your hair is on day five and you don’t have enough time to hop in the shower before heading to work. But unfortunately, your beloved dry shampoo could be causing your health more harm than good.

Before you grab the bottle out of your bathroom drawer and give your roots a spray, be sure to check the ingredient list on the back and familiarize yourself with the potential risks associated with the product.

What is benzene?

There’s been a lot of chatter surrounding dry shampoos lately, linking many of the products to significant benzene levels. This chemical is commonly found in emissions from motor vehicles, gas stations, and the burning of coal and oil. When inhaled in significant amounts over a prolonged period of time, benzene has been linked to the increased risk of developing certain cancers and hematological impacts as it can harm your blood.

In November 2022, Valisure, an independent laboratory that seeks to increase transparency and quality within the healthcare industry, conducted a study on dry shampoo. The study tested 148 products from 34 unique brands, and showed that 70% of the dry shampoos tested contained benzene — yikes! Valisure also shared that body sprays can also contain benzene, and that other chemicals like butane, propane, isobutane, and alcohol may also be sources of benzene through contamination. It’s important to always check the ingredient labels on products that are contained in spray cans, as they are more likely to contain harmful chemicals like the carcinogen, benzene.

Other troubling sources of benzene exposure are residential homes with an attached garage due to exhaust emissions from cars and other gas-powered devices. Smoking indoors can also increase the presence of benzene in the air.

What is considered a safe level of benzene?

When breathed in by humans, high levels of benzene can result in drowsiness, irregular or rapid heartbeat, and dizziness. But even if you’re not experiencing any of these symptoms after spraying your hair with dry shampoo or your armpits with aerosol deodorant, you could be exposing yourself to unhealthy levels of the toxic chemical.

What’s even worse is that the levels of benzene in aerosol beauty products are often underestimated, so be mindful of that when checking just how much your deodorant or dry shampoo contains. This occurs because the amount of benzene in products is often reported by the manufacturing companies and not a third party. There is absolutely a need for more regulation regarding the use and presence of benzene in beauty products and cleaners as self-regulation provides the public with false information.

In terms of dry shampoo, the FDA states that the safe level is that there “must be no more than two parts per million ‘ppm’.” However, there are ways to keep your hair looking fresh and not greasy without exposing yourself to any aerosol benzenes at all. Consider learning how to create a DIY dry shampoo that will keep your hair looking sleek in the summer heat.

DIY dry shampoo

The main draw of dry shampoo is that it absorbs any of the excess oil on your roots and scalp that’s been building up for days without a wash. But trust us, exposing yourself to toxic carcinogens just so you can have a good hair day is definitely not worth it.

What many people don’t know is that there are natural ingredients (probably already in your pantry!) that can bring the same grease-hiding benefits.

To create your own DIY dry shampoo, all you’ll need is cornstarch and cocoa powder. Use equal parts of both and it can be gently applied to your roots with a makeup brush or your fingers to hide any unwanted shine and absorb any excess oil. Plus, it will give your hair a delicious, pleasant smell thanks to the cocoa powder.

You can follow our DIY recipe here.

Disclosure: We are a professional review and product rating website and mobile app that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review and rate. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own interpretations of a trusted source.

The Dark Side of Dry Shampoo: Beware of Benzene was originally published in Think Dirty on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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