Unilever Hit With Class Action Over Benzene in Dry Shampoos

The London-based conglomerate Unilever is facing a class action lawsuit over dry shampoo products contaminated with high levels of benzene, a chemical compound known to cause cancer.

The class action lawsuit follows an October 2022 recall of several brands of dry shampoo aerosol sprays that Unilever owns, including:

The recalled dry shampoo products sold under these brands were produced prior to October 2021. The first Unilever dry shampoo lawsuit was filed Nov. 1 by plaintiff Robert Rullo in the United States District Court District of New Jersey.

Unilever is also facing a lawsuit over its recalled Suave antiperspirant products, which was sparked by the discovery of high levels of benzene detected in Nov. 2021 by the online independent pharmacy and laboratory-testing company, Valisure. Rullo alleges in his complaint that Unilever knew that its other aerosol products could have high levels of benzene and that the company should have issued a warning rather than wait a whole year before issuing a recall in order to maximize profits.

This allegedly intentional withholding of information by Unilever put consumers at risk of developing cancer, Rullo’s complaint says.

Unilever and other consumer goods manufacturers face several benzene lawsuits over other aerosol products, including sunscreens, deodorants and other antiperspirants.

Benzene in dry shampoo products places consumers at risk because the product is applied directly on the scalp, where benzene can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the circulatory system.

Rullo’s complaint alleges that Unilever did not adequately test its products to ensure that levels of benzene were safe. The company also allegedly failed to disclose the risks of benzene in aerosol products.

For a full list of the recalled dry shampoo products produced prior to October 2021 and consumer UPC codes for those products, the FDA has provided this online resource.

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