The affected products were produced before October 2021, the conglomerate said, and are from several different brands owned by Unilever: Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI and TRESemmé.
The voluntary recall of select products, identified by production codes, applies to the United States and Canada. Unilever United States said in a statement that it had not yet received reports of “adverse events” from customers.
“Unilever U.S. is recalling these products out of an abundance of caution,” the company said, adding that retailers had been instructed to pull the recalled products off shelves.
An internal investigation resulted in the voluntary recall, Unilever said in its statement. The propellant in the spray can was the source of the benzene, it found, and the company said it was working with suppliers to address the issue.
Unilever could not be immediately reached for comment.
Benzene, a chemical used to create many industrial products such as nylon and plastics, is also released into the air through cigarette smoke and burning coal, oil and gasoline, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some exposure by inhalation is unavoidable in daily life, but prolonged contact with high levels of the chemical causes cells “not to work correctly,” diminishing a person’s red blood cell count and wreaking havoc on the immune system, the public health agency said. Benzene can also be ingested and absorbed by the skin, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Long-term exposure can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood cells, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. It can also harm reproductive organs in women, the agency said.
Unilever customers should immediately halt using the affected products, and they can request to be reimbursed, the company said.
This dry shampoo recall was at least the sixth recall this year involving benzene, according to the F.D.A.’s data. Past product recalls have included a themed hand sanitizer from Disney for “The Mandalorian,” Banana Boat sunscreen and Suave spray deodorant.