Looking for a benzene free dry shampoo? We don’t blame you. In 2022, we learned that a threatening chemical called benzene was lurking in our aerosol hair products, including dry shampoo. We immediately contacted our favorite brands to find out which products had been tested and are formulated without the ingredient. With so many formulas on the market today, it can be tough to pinpoint the best one for your hair. Read on to find out more about benzene in dry shampoo, and which products have made our list so far.
What is benzene?
“Benzene is a volatile chemical used in the production of a wide range of industrial products. This includes chemicals, dyes, detergents, and some plastics,” explains Ron McLaughlin, senior vice president of product development for Living Proof. “Benzene is formed from both natural processes, such as volcanoes. It’s also formed from human activities, such as tobacco smoke, emissions from automobiles, and burning coal and oil. Unintentionally, benzene can also show up as a by-product, or as an impurity in what is known as ‘trace amounts in certain raw materials.'”
McLaughlin explains that the majority of aerosol dry shampoos on the market utilize hydrocarbon propellent (gas) and ethanol at various levels to deliver the product onto hair. “Most hydrocarbon aerosol propellant blends are made up of propane, n-butane and iso-butane, and have the potential of having benzene as an impurity due to their source materials.”
According to the CDC, people who breathe in high levels of benzene may develop certain signs and symptoms within minutes to several hours. These include drowsiness, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, confusion, and/or unconsciousness. However, “showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has been exposed to benzene.”
In early 2021, benzene was reported to be found in a long list of sunscreens, which shook the beauty industry (and pretty much all sunscreen users across the country), and major recalls ensued. Unfortunately, the scare didn’t stop at sunscreen. In October 2022, more than 1.5 million dry shampoo products were recalled due to traces of the benzene.
How does it end up in dry shampoo?
Without strict quality control measures in place, it’s possible for low levels of benzene to make it into dry shampoo. “However, it’s important to note that just because you see ingredients like propane and isobutane listed on packaging, it does not mean that benzene has made its way into the formula,” McLaughlin says. “This is where strict quality controls and testing come into play. Not every brand does this thorough level of due diligence.”
Ever since its invention, dry shampoo has become a staple for many of us in our daily routines. Let’s face it, there’s not always time for a full wash. And, no one should have to worry about breathing in harmful chemicals while trying to hide greasy roots.
These Dry Shampoos Are Free of Benzene and Work Wonders to Revitalize Hair
A NewBeauty Award winner that’s beloved for its oil-absorbing, talc-free formula and signature scent, we’re thankful this dry shampoo is part of this group.
Here’s a statement from the brand: “amika’s first priority is always the safety of our customers and the integrity of our products. Benzene is a chemical often found in aerosols that expel propellant and is known to cause harmful health effects when exposed to high amounts. Earlier this year, we tested all in-market aerosols for benzene content, all of which came back with no detectable benzene—down to 0.1 parts per million (ppm). Our propellant suppliers test our materials before using them in our formulas to ensure the benzene levels are below the tolerance level as set by the FDA for pharmaceuticals and EU regulations. All our results showed we remain far below the tolerance level, and the recent spot testing seen in the press confirms this. We remain committed to continuously monitoring our products to ensure that they remain safe.”
One of the best-selling dry shampoos on the market, this talc-free formula makes second- and third-day hair look and feel clean rather than just masking a dirty situation. It also has that classic citrusy Living Proof scent many of us love, and it doesn’t weigh down fine strands.
“Living Proof follows stringent safety protocols, and we have been working closely with the FDA to ensure we follow their guidance on testing and tolerance levels,” says McLaughlin. “Our Research & Development and Compliance Teams take it a step further to work with raw material suppliers to establish thorough safety testing, parameters and specifications on incoming lots of raw material to test for benzene before going into production.
When each individual lot of products is delivered, they each come along with their own Certificate of Analysis (COA), a standard document that suppliers and manufacturers produce to verify it conforms to our demanding and exacting safety standards. In our case, the COA informs that all safety protocols and tests results around our dry shampoos are in place. We also brought in an independent, third-party safety expert to conduct an assessment of our dry shampoos, and the assessment has concluded that these products are safe to use and do not pose a health risk.”
This was one of the first shampoos I tried many, many years ago that my hair just fell in love with. It does leave a little bit of a light residue in my hair, but that’s OK with me because I’m blonde, and I actually think it helps hide my dirty roots even more. When it comes to dry shampoo brands, I always have Batiste top of mind.
In regards to benzene testing, though we only have one Batiste Dry Shampoo pictured here, the statement below from the brand’s parent company, Church & Dwight, applies to all of Batiste’s aerosol dry shampoo products (there are more than 20!) that were purchased after May 30, 2023.
“Consumer safety is of the utmost importance,” says a Church & Dwight spokesperson. “When propellants had been reported to be the source of benzene in competitors’ recalled products, we contacted our propellant suppliers and confirmed with those suppliers that the propellants used in our Batiste products do not contain benzene.”
When it comes to benzene-free dry shampoos, this cult-classic is one of our favorites. Boasting the brand’s signature Côte d’Azur scent that lingers in your hair all day, a few spritzes extend the life of your blowout in the best way.
A statement from the brand reads: “In response to the recent aerosol recall due to elevated levels of benzene, a known carcinogenic substance, Oribe Hair Care has conducted an investigation to determine whether our aerosol products—including dry shampoo—are contaminated with benzene. Our products are not formulated to contain benzene, and after reviewing the data, our technical team has concluded that our aerosol products are unlikely to be contaminated by the said substance. Oribe Hair Care is committed to providing safe cosmetic products to our customers and we will continue to monitor the quality and safety of our aerosol products.”
Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo ($26)
If you’ve ever had a blowout at a drybar and didn’t snag a bottle of this dry shampoo before heading home, it’s not too late—just click to add to cart. Micro-fine rice powder absorbs oil and also adds volume to flat roots, and the vanilla-y scent is a crowd-favorite.
“At Drybar, our philosophy is simple: Focus on one thing and be the best at it. In doing this, we believe our products can be formulated without parabens, sulfates or phthalates, and be cruelty-free with no animal testing. This includes formulating our Detox Dry Shampoo to be free of benzene and other potentially toxic chemicals,” says Anna Kimble, hairstylist and senior director of education for Drybar. “And we don’t just stop there. You will also find many of our products are also formulated without gluten, keratin, honey, nuts, or nut oils.”
BondiBoost HG Dry Shampoo ($30, launching September 7)
The Australian hair-care brand is adding this new dry shampoo to its best-selling HG range, which is meant to “supercharge your hair growth journey.” The formula is infused with rosemary oil to help soothe the scalp and stimulate hair follicles, but of course it also does a great job of absorbing oil and adding volume.
“At BondiBoost, providing our customers with safe, effective products is our highest priority. We work very hard to be sure that our formulas do not contain any potentially harmful ingredients,” says a representative from the brand.
These two aerosol dry shampoo formulas from the R+Co family (there are other formats as well, like a paste and an innovative lotion-to-powder) are fan-favorites, especially for a little extra body in addition to a quick cleanse of dirty hair.
“R+Co is firmly committed to ensuring the products we provide to our consumers are only made with safe ingredients that follow all legal and regulatory requirements,” says a spokesperson from R+Co. “There is nothing more important than the quality and efficacy of our products and the safety of our customers.
Like you, R+Co is aware of the recent reports regarding the presence of benzene in certain aerosol products; however, R+Co can confirm, through documented and verified testing, that the propellant ingredients used in R+Co products are safe and contain less than one part per million of benzene. To put this in a better perspective, the tolerance level as set by the FDA for pharmaceutical and drug products is two PPM.
Further, we are in regular contact with our suppliers to ensure each is in continuous compliance with our requirements on this issue. Ensuring reliable testing results is of paramount importance and both R+Co and its suppliers will continue to devote resources to achieve this goal.
As always, we are here for our customers and are open and available to answer any additional questions you may have as we continue to work tirelessly to ensure the safety of our products.”
HASK Dry Shampoo ($7 each)
This is a drugstore steal you don’t want to miss. It comes in different formulas with different key ingredients depending on what your specific hair type needs. The Chia Seed Volumizing Dry Shampoo is great for fine, limp hair and has a a floral tea scent. The Charcoal Purifying Dry Shampoo is the one to try if you have oily roots, and has a botanical citrus scent. The Coconut Dry Shampoo has oil-absorbing and strand-softening benefits, and smells like tropical coconut. And lastly, the Biotin Boost Thickening Dry Shampoo is great for thinning hair, as it’s infused with biotin, collagen and coffee. This one has an energizing herbal scent.
According to the brand’s product development team: “HASK takes developing formulas and products that are safe and efficacious seriously. Our supplier has assured us that the propellant used in our Dry Shampoo products does not contain benzene and is regularly tested to ensure it meets industry standards.”
Olaplex used ultra-fine micro starch sourced from brown rice in this formula to sop up oil without creating buildup. It’s so light, it feels like nothing in the hair. It’s also infused with the brand’s famous Bond Building Technology to add softness and strengthen damaged areas. It’s a dry shampoo that takes hair health into consideration.
The brand has provided the following statement about benzene: “We understand the public concern with aerosol products potentially containing benzene. Like all OLAPLEX products, No.4D Clean Volume Detox Dry Shampoo was designed with the health and safety of our customers in mind. Third-party lab testing has confirmed that it does not contain any traces of benzene down to 0.1 parts per million.”
There are so many options to consider from the Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo collection, whether you want something that works overnight, something that smells sweet or something that also adds texture for that beachy effect. The statement below from DeMert Brands, the parent company of Not Your Mother’s Hair Care, applies to the full line of the brand’s aerosol dry shampoos.
“The safety of our consumers is our highest priority,” says a spokesperson from DeMert Brands. “We are concerned about a recently published report linked to the dry shampoo category, raising questions about levels of benzene detected in propellent used in aerosol products manufactured on or before Fall 2021.
This report is inconsistent with the data provided by our suppliers and the rigorous ongoing testing to ensure the safety and integrity of our products. These tests show no traceable amounts of benzene. We are committed to continuous evaluation to ensure the utmost safety and quality of all our products.”
Verb Dry Shampoo ($20)
This dry shampoo comes in two versions to suit both lighter and darker hair colors, and as of this month, the packaging has been updated and now comes in a bigger size (5 ounces instead of 4.5).
The brand has provided the following statement surrounding benzene: “Verb uses the finest raw materials to provide our customers with high-quality products. We are aware of the questions that have arisen with respect to the use of the benzene in dry shampoo. All Verb products, including our dry shampoos, do not use or have added benzene, and any presence of this chemical is only as a by-product and well below the FDA safety standards.
Our raw materials undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet our safety standards and we can confidently say our dry shampoos are safe to use. We aim to be transparent about our products and the ingredients we use.”
Part of the brand’s big Clean Stylers launch, this vegan, talc-free dry shampoo is incredibly sheer (great for darker hair) and doesn’t leave buildup in the hair. Instead, it actually helps hydrate the hair and fight frizz with vitamin E and glycerin, and the citrusy-woodsy scent is nice, too.
“At Fekkai, we pride ourselves on creating high-performance, clean haircare that is safe for people and the planet. Our clean, vegan, sustainable formulas are gluten-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, phalate-free and also benzene-free,” says founder Frédéric Fekkai. “Our talc-free, Invisible Sheer Dry Shampoo is formulated with kaolin clay to absorb oil along with edelweiss and apple extracts to nourish and protect the hair. Even better, it’s powered by Solstice by Honeywell, the first earth-friendly, non ozone-depleting aerosol propellant, so you can spray responsibly without any compromise on performance. I remain committed to our conscious effort to create salon grade products that do not harm humans, animals or the planet.“
When you don’t have time for an in-shower wash, this dual-use dry shampoo features unique packaging that offers two ways to refresh waves, curls and coils (though all hair types can use it). Twist the nozzle one way for a narrow spray pattern that absorbs oil to refresh greasy roots and add a little volume to the hair. When curls are looking limp or lifeless, twist the nozzle the other way for a wider spray pattern that adds definition and texture from the mid-lengths down.
According to the brand, the formula is free of benzene, as well as talc powder, and instead uses tapioca starch to sop up oil. It also smells really nice and clean with a “green oasis fragrance” inspired by nature.
This option is great for dry and/or damaged hair. Sometimes dry shampoo can make the hair feel drier, but this formula actually contains moisturizing argan oil that gives the hair a touchable feel. It’s also safe for color-treated strands.
“When it became known that propellants were a source of benzene in some hair products, we contacted our propellant suppliers and confirmed to those suppliers that the propellants used in our Orlando Pita Play Dry Shampoo were benzene-free,” says Irena Lebedev, director QA & Regulatory at HatchCollective, Orlando Pita’s parent company.
“We actively test our products because continuous, rigorous testing of every batch of products is key to ensuring the safety and integrity of our products. These tests found no traces of benzene in our Orlando Pita Play Dry Shampoo.”
Housed inside 100-percent recyclable aluminum, this vegan formula freshens up greasy strands (it’s great after a gym sesh), smells like a fruity perfume, and doesn’t leave behind a white residue.
“Earlier this year, we tested all of our in-market aerosols for benzene content, and all came back with no detectable benzene (down to 0.1 parts per million),” says Jane Moran, brand president. “We test our materials before using them in our beloved formulas to ensure the benzene levels are below 2 ppm—the tolerance level as set by the FDA for pharmaceuticals—and we are down to 0.1 parts per million (ppm). All the results showed our products remained far below the tolerance level, and we remain committed to continuously monitoring them to ensure they remain safe.”