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New research finds high levels of known carcinogen benzene in dry shampoo.

Many people use dry shampoo. It is a great product for when you don’t have access to water to wash your hair and need to save some time. Dry shampoo products are usually a powder or aerosol spray that is applied to the scalp to reduce oil without using water. Many people love it because it keeps hair from looking greasy and can give your hair a quick refresh between washes. Although dry shampoo has become very popular, a new research study says that you may want to consider ditching it because it could be exposing you to cancer-causing substances.

Researchers working for the independent quality assurance company Valisure studied carcinogens in dry shampoo. A carcinogen is any substance that can cause cancer. The Valisure researchers studied 34 different brands of dry shampoo and 148 unique batches. They found high levels of the carcinogen called benzene in 70% of the dry shampoo samples tested. The amount of benzene varied significantly from batch to batch. Some of the batches had up to 170 times the limit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends.

Per Valisure CEO David Light, “The detection of high levels of benzene in dry shampoos should be cause for significant concern since these products are likely used indoors, where benzene may linger and be inhaled for prolonged periods of time.”2

According to the American Cancer Society, “carcinogens do not cause cancer at all times, under all circumstances. In other words, a carcinogen does not always cause cancer in every person, every time there is any kind of exposure. Some may only be carcinogenic if a person is exposed in a certain way. Some may only cause cancer in people who have a certain genetic makeup. Some of these agents may lead to cancer after only a very small exposure, while others might require intense exposure over many years. Even if a substance or exposure is known or suspected to cause cancer, this does not necessarily mean that it can or should be avoided at all costs.”1

Dermatologist Dr. Susan Massick told Healthline, “The concern for benzene is that this is a potential carcinogenic with chronic exposure or in high concentrations. The likelihood of either type of exposure is low in a product that is localized to the scalp, but if it’s found in a product, it is appropriate to recall, reevaluate the manufacturing process, and test to make sure there are no ongoing manufacturing issues.”3

Until the FDA does a recall, it is up to the consumer whether or not they would like to continue using dry shampoo. If you are using dry shampoo, use it sparingly, in a well-ventilated area, and try to not breathe in the product fumes.


  1. Known and probable human carcinogens. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2022
  2. VALISURE detects benzene in dry shampoo. Valisure. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2022
  3. Fletcher, J. (2022, November 8). Group finds 70% of dry shampoos tested had cancer-causing chemical. Healthline. Retrieved November 15, 2022