Benzene in Paul Mitchell Dry Shampoo Cause of Milberg Lawsuit

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November 18, 2022

by Brian Eckert

The toxic chemical benzene has been detected in batches of Paul Mitchell dry shampoo, making the product adulterated, misbranded, and illegal to sell and causing harm to consumers who purchased it, according to a class action lawsuit filed by attorneys for Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman (“Milberg”).

Testing Finds High Benzene Levels in Popular Dry Shampoos

Valisure LLC is an independent testing laboratory that in recent years has uncovered serious safety issues with household consumer products and medications, such as cancer-causing substances in heartburn drugs and benzene in spray sunscreens. The latest findings from Valisure also relate to benzene in spray-on products. But this time, they involve benzene and dry shampoo.

Product is not designed to contain benzene, and no amount of benzene is acceptable in dry shampoo such as the Product manufactured, distributed, and sold by Defendant. Further, although Defendant lists the ingredients on the Product’s labels, Defendant failed to disclose on the Product’s labeling or anywhere in Defendant’s marketing that the Product contains benzene.

Dry shampoo is a beauty product designed to absorb oil and grease and make hair look cleaner without washing it. Usually sold in a spray bottle, dry shampoo products are made with an alcohol or starch base. They’re considered cosmetics and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A press release issued by Valisure on November 1, 2022 announced that the laboratory detected high levels of benzene in some batches of certain dry shampoo products, including Paul Mitchell Invisiblewear Brunette Dry Shampoo. Valisure also sent a petition to the FDA requesting that the agency take action on benzene in dry shampoo.

Benzene in Paul Mitchell Dry Shampoo Exceeds FDA Limits

FDA lists benzene as a Class 1 solvent that “should not be employed” in the manufacture of drug substances and drug products because of its “unacceptable toxicity.” If benzene use is necessary “in order to produce a drug product with a significant therapeutic advance,” says FDA, then levels should be restricted to 2 parts per million (ppm).

Valisure’s petition shows that benzene was found in Paul Mitchell Invisiblewear Brunette Dry Shampoo in concentrations that exceed the FDA guidance of 2 ppm. One lot of Paul Mitchell dry shampoo contained benzene concentrations more than 17 times higher than FDA limits.

As Valisure notes, dry shampoos are not drugs and contain no therapeutic pharmaceutical ingredients. Therefore, “any significant detection of benzene could be deemed unacceptable.”

Benzene Is a Known Human Carcinogen

Benzene is used in a wide range of industrial processes and its use is highly regulated due to documented health risks. The World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer classify benzene as “carcinogenic to humans,” while the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans.

Benzene is linked to leukemia, myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A 2010 study from Annual Reviews describes how benzene damages the bone marrow, which contains blood stem cells. The study concludes that “There is probably no safe level of exposure to benzene” and “all exposures constitute some risk.”

Benzene exposure can occur from absorption through the skin and eyes, inhalation, and ingestion. This makes exposure from dry shampoo particularly troubling, because the product is applied to the scalp and around the face, with airborne remnants likely to be inhaled and absorbed into the lungs.

Lead Plaintiff and Proposed Class

The lead plaintiff in Milberg’s Paul Mitchell class action lawsuit lives in Illinois and purchased Invisiblewear Brunette Dry Shampoo on multiple occasions. She asserts that, based on product labeling and disclosures, there was no way for her—or any other reasonable consumer—to know that the product contains or might contain benzene.

Had she known about potential benzene in the product, plaintiff says, she would not have bought it. Plaintiff accordingly suffered economic injury from her purchase of the deceptively represented Paul Mitchell dry shampoo. She seeks to represent the following consumers in this class action case:

  • All persons who purchased Paul Mitchell Invisiblewear Brunette Dry Shampoo in the United States or in Illinois.

In addition, the lawsuit looks to establish a separate consumer fraud subclass of individuals in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, or Washington who purchased Paul Mitchell Invisiblewear Brunette Dry Shampoo.

Milberg has also filed a dry shampoo benzene lawsuit against Not Your Mother’s brand of dry shampoo stemming from the same Valisure investigation.

Anyone who purchased benzene-contaminated dry shampoo products from Paul Mitchell or Not Your Mother’s may be eligible to automatically join these lawsuits and share in any award. You do not have to hire a lawyer or pay any out-of-pocket legal costs. Our attorneys are national leaders in class action litigation and have a long history of checking corporate power.