For decades, the public has been urged to wear sunscreen to help prevent cancer. Regrettably, researchers have uncovered the presence of benzene, a known carcinogen, in many widely available sunscreens. In May 2021, Valisure, a Connecticut-based laboratory and pharmacy, analyzed nearly 300 batches of sunscreen from 69 companies and discovered that 78 sunscreen and after-sun care products contained benzene.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled 40 products containing high levels of the carcinogen, including such brands as Neutrogena, Sun Bum, CVS Health, and Fruit of the Earth, according to USA Today. The recall included all variations of these aerosol sunscreen products, whatever the size of the can and the sun protection factor (SPF).

Five popular aerosol sunscreens have been recalled because they contain benzene:

  • Neutrogena® Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena® Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena® Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen
  • Aveeno® Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen

Reaction From the Manufacturers

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has reported that it is voluntarily withdrawing from the market the five aerosol sunscreen products of the Neutrogena and Aveeno brands after detecting benzene, a chemical classified as a human carcinogen. Besides, all the recalled J&J products are sold in aerosol cans. J&J advises consumers to stop using the affected products and dispose of them properly.

Side Effects and Symptoms

Long-term effects of benzene exposure include damage to a person’s bone marrow, the diagnosis of blood disease, leukemia, or lymphoma. Do not forget that, benzene likely came from a petroleum-based propellant.
People with benzene-related injuries may also develop tremors, headaches, and rapid or irregular heartbeats, and symptoms of benzene exposure might initially be more subtle but gradually worsen over time.


Consumers should contact their physician or health care provider if they have any concerns or questions, or if they have experienced any problems related to the use of these products. If you have suffered any of the above symptoms after using a sunscreen containing benzene, consider speaking to a doctor.

Benzene Discovery Timeline 2021:

  • March: Various brands–hand sanitizer.
  • July: Johnson & Johnson–aerosol sunscreen products.
  • September: Beiersdorf–aerosol Coppertone sunscreen products.
  • October: Bayer–aerosol antifungal products.
  • December: Procter & Gamble–aerosol hair and body products.