The recall of a number of dry shampoo products in recent months has sparked the filing of several dry shampoo class action lawsuits against manufacturers of the personal care products by plaintiffs claiming the shampoos contain dangerously high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen.
On October 18, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a nationwide voluntary recall of a number of dry shampoo products manufactured by Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bedhead) and TRESemme´ due to “potentially elevated levels of benzene”. The FDA went on to state:
“Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen. Exposure to benzene can occur by inhalation, orally, and through the skin and it can result in cancers including leukemia and blood cancer of the bone marrow and blood disorders which can be life threatening.”
As a result, Unilever voluntarily recalled 19 dry shampoos, noting that an internal investigation had indicated the propellant used in the product had been the source of the benzene. There had been an earlier December, 2021 recall of similar products manufactured by Proctor & Gamble; affected brands included Pantene, Waterless, Aussie, Old Spice, Herbal Essences and Hair Food. The recall was prompted, in part, by testing done by Valisure, an independent analytical pharmacy that revealed very high levels of benzene in a number of brands of the shampoo.
The recalls have triggered a number of dry shampoo class action lawsuits to be filed in federal courts around the country. The first was filed in January, 2022, in the U.S.D.C. for the Southern District of New York against Proctor & Gamble by a plaintiff alleging P&G failed to test its products or warn consumers about the potential risks of benzene exposure. A second lawsuit was filed against P&G in May, 2022 in Ohio. Additional class action lawsuits were filed in November, 2022 against Unilever in the U.S.D.C. for the District of New Jersey and DeMert Brands’ Not Your Mother’s brand (manufacturer of Beach Babe, Clean Freak and Plump for Joy) in the U.S.D.C for the Southern District of Florida, making similar claims that the products expose consumers to dangerously high levels of benzene. The latter was the subject of a motion to transfer filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on November, 22, 2022 but that motion was withdrawn by DeMert on December 1, 2022 resulting in the MDL No. 3061 being closed.