Dry shampoo and benzene

There are a few things that I usually do not do and certainly will not start doing regularly in this year:

1- Policing and commenting what colleagues, bloggers and influencers publish

2- Fearmongering and spreading scary news

This is however an exceptional case because I see an excellent business opportunity for you to promote your "green" products and communicate the advantages of your products to your customers.

Dry shampoo is a very popular segment of the hair care. The concept is not new at all and before clean tapped water was available to the public people (upperclass and nobility) used powders such as clays and starch to clean their scalp and hair or deodorize their wigs. As an alternative a piece of wool attached to a comb was used to comb hair to clean the hair and scalp or rather to get rid of the lice.

During the recent years modern dry shampoo, conveniently filled in aerosol cans has taken the market by storm.

I am no fan of dry shampoo and it was THE ONE product I refused to formulate as I prepared the formulations for the diploma in hair care formulation for Formula Botanica.

But I know there are millions of individuals fascinated by this product (otherwise we would't see so many products on the market).

The main aim of the dry shampoo is to keep hair beautiful in between two hair washes or jazz up the hair after a work out when you don't have time to wash, dry and style the hair. This concept has been somehow abused and there are a few individuals that only and only use the dry shampoo and have stopped hair washing totally or do it very rarely. This has again caused other problems that vary between itchy scalp and sensitization to hair loss. There are a few viral videos on youtube and tiktok addressing these issues. Whereas the problem is not in the product but in the wrong way of using it.

Anyway only last year several brands of dry shampoo were reported with alarmingly high dosage of benzene, a known carcinogen.

Quite obviously nobody will add the benzene deliberately to a product. It is the inherent impurity available in the propellants in the dry shampoo which, guess what? Are all petroleum derived.

Here the ingredients list of 3 dry shampoos on the market. Well benzene is not listed because it is not deliberately added to the product. It was just, accidentally found in the product by independent analysis

Hell yes.

Although the benzene is not deliberately added to the dry shampoo it is there. So are the nitrosamines or the dioxane in other conventional cosmetic raw material. They are there and they are all known carcinogens. This is why we came such a long way to create "natural" personal care. In order to avoid certain chemicals and ingredients.

Now if you know me, you know that I don't make a fuss around chemicals. Hell I am a chemist and I have even worked with benzene in the lab during my junior chemistry student era. I definitely avoid public pleasing buzzwords such as "non-toxic" or "clean" or "chemicals-free" but there are even limits to my chemical tolerance and hence I was quite shocked when a few celebrity cosmetic chemists and safety assessors announced in an interview that "we don't need to be concerned about the presence of benzene in dry shampoo". It is even worse than that. The celebrity cosmetic chemist claims:

“When you fill your car with gas, you’ll be exposed to more benzene than you would be via cosmetic products,”

Oh hell! What does that mean? When I tank my car (by the way I walk or use the bike as much as possible and when not, I drive an e-car and tank solar electricity) I am in a stinky filling station and I try to minimize my staying there and even minimize my breathing. How shall we minimize our breathing when we apply a product that is supposed to improve our well being when it is contaminated with benzene. How ridiculous is this argument?

It's just like saying: when you burn a paraffin candle you are exposed to paraffin and all the accompanying impurities. Why not apply some paraffin over your toast?

As I mentioned before, I don't like to comment what other experts say and write and think. Anybody is welcomed to think how she will and express her opinion. I am at least happy that some chemists still express their honest opinion and do not try to green-coat it.

The reason I am writing this and sharing this with you is to inform you that you can use this opportunity if you are in making dry shampoo or consider making it. The artisanal dry shampoo is easy to make but not as convenient to use as the aerosol dry shampoo (for the consumer) but if the consumer is really concerned about the consequences of the benzene present in the commercial dry shampoo, then they will sacrifice the convenience for the health. This is what we all do with slow food and home made freshly prepared food vs the convenience of fast food, isn't that?

You can use powder dispensers (those with a built in brush that are very common in loose mineral powder. That makes the application slightly easier but it is still not as convenient as when using the aerosol (damn it)

So having said that, I wish you the very best in this year

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