P&G recalls Pantene hair spray products for a cancer-causing chemical

Other brands affected by the recall include Old Spice, Herbal Essences, Hair Food, Waterless, and Aussie

P&G recalls Pantene hair spray products for a cancer-causing chemical 4

Over 30 aerosol spray haircare products in the United States were recalled by Procter & Gamble in December 2021.

What were the recalled products and why exactly were they recalled?

According to P&G’s recall notice on December 17, 2021, the affected items included aerosol dry conditioner spray products and aerosol dry shampoo spray products from the brands Pantene, Old Spice, Herbal Essences, Hair Food, Waterless, and Aussie. The products were recalled because they possibly contained unexpected levels of benzene, a known cancer-causing agent.

In a statement, P&G said that the affected products will likely not expose people to levels of benzene high enough to cause health issues. Though the company noted that it has not “received any reports of adverse events” from using the affected items yet, it still decided to move forward with the recall out of “an abundance of caution” and for the safety of the consumers.

Below is the full list of the recalled products:

Recalled aerosol dry conditioner spray products

  1. Waterless Dry Conditioner Weightless Smooth, 3.6oz.
  2. Waterless Dry Conditioner Instant Moisture, 3.6oz.
  3. Waterless Dry Conditioner Weightless Smooth, .98oz.
  4. Waterless Dry Conditioner Instant Moisture, .98oz.
  5. Pantene Sultry Bronde All in One Luxury Mist, 4.9oz.
  6. Pantene Smooth Talker Dry Conditioning Oil, 3.9oz.
  7. Pantene Mist Behaving Dry Conditioning Mist, 3.9oz.
  8. Pantene Mist Behaving Dry Conditioning Mist, 3.9oz.
  9. Pantene Mist Behaving Dry Conditioning Mist, 1.0oz.
  10. Pantene Gold Series Instant Nourishing Spray, 4.9oz.
  11. Aussie Smooth Vibes Dry Conditioner, 4.9oz.
  12. Aussie Petal Soft Dry Conditioner, 4.9oz.
  13. Aussie Sleekend Warrior Dry Conditioner, 4.9oz.

Recalled aerosol dry shampoo spray products

  1. Herbal Essences Blue Ginger Refresh Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  2. Herbal Essences White Grapefruit & Mint Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  3. Herbal Essences White Strawberry & Sweet Mint Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  4. Herbal Essences Cucumber & Green Tea Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  5. Herbal Essences Cucumber & Green Tea Dry Shampoo, 1.7oz.
  6. Pantene Dry Shampoo No Water Refresh, 4.9oz.
  7. Pantene Dry Shampoo Sheer Volume, 4.9oz.
  8. Pantene Never Tell Dry Shampoo, 4.2oz.
  9. Aussie After Hours Dry Shampoo Texture Spray, 4.9oz.
  10. Aussie Tousle Hustle Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  11. Aussie Bounce Back Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  12. Aussie Clean Color Protect Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  13. Aussie Clean Texture Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  14. Aussie Clean Volume Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  15. Waterl<ss Dry Shampoo No Residue, 3.7oz.
  16. Waterl<ss Dry Shampoo No Residue, 1oz.
  17. Hair Food Coconut Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  18. Old Spice Fiji Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.
  19. Old Spice Pure Sport Dry Shampoo, 4.9oz.

Photos of the impacted products can be seen below, while the corresponding production code number and UPC of all the recalled items can be found here.

P&G recalls Pantene hair spray products for a cancer-causing chemical 5
Recalled P&G products
P&G recalls Pantene hair spray products for a cancer-causing chemical 6
Recalled P&G products
P&G recalls Pantene hair spray products for a cancer-causing chemical 7
Recalled P&G products

Retailers were promptly advised to remove the affected products from store shelves. Meanwhile, people who bought the recalled items were instructed to throw them away and contact P&G customer service at 1-888-674-36319 from Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET to get a full refund.

What is benzene and why is benzene exposure a serious health concern?

Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It is a known human carcinogen and exposure to it can pose adverse health consequences.

As pointed out in P&G’s recall notice, “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.”

Short-term exposure to high levels of benzene can cause:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach irritation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Death

Long-term exposure to benzene can cause:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Low blood platelet count
  • Leukemia (cancer of the blood-forming organs)
  • Other blood cancers
  • Damage to the immune system
  • Reproductive problems
  • Birth defects

Benzene exposure is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and children. Pregnant women who are exposed to benzene may have a higher risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and low birth weight babies. Children who are exposed to benzene may have a higher risk of developing leukemia and other blood cancers.

To ease the worries of its customers, P&G made it clear that other products under the affected brands that were not mentioned in the recall notice “may continue to be used as intended, including those aerosol dry shampoo spray products with production code ranges different from those specifically communicated.”

P&G’s December 2021 recall notice came less than a month after the company issued a similar recall for over a dozen Old Spice and Secret-branded aerosol deodorants and sprays, warning that the products could also contain benzene.

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