On May 25, Valisure, an independent team of scientists that test the chemical composition of healthcare and medication products, released a report stating it found benzene, a known carcinogen that can cause cancer in humans, in a handful of sun-care products. A total of 78 sunscreen and after-sun products were listed as having high levels of the harmful chemical. This news has left many people with questions regarding the sun products in their own medicine cabinets, and whether they're safe or not.
According to the report, "27% of samples tested by Valisure contained detectable benzene and some batches contained up to three times the conditionally restricted FDA concentration limit." 294 batches of sun products were tested from 69 different companies and the carcinogen was found in both chemical and mineral spray, lotion, and gel formulas.
Given the concerning nature of this news, it's understandable that people are having doubts about the safety of their sun products but it's important to look at the facts. The carcinogen found in certain sunscreen formulations was due to contaminated batches of ingredients, not because it's a regular ingredient in the products.
The full list of contaminated sun products has been released by the company and is available online. The recall list includes the lot codes so if you have that specific brand and product at home, you can check the bottles to see if yours are from the contaminated batch. As of now, the FDA has not yet responded or announced an official recall on the products, but if you're worried, simply avoid using the specific batches in question.
Valisure also released the list of 217 sunscreens that were tested and did not come back contaminated with benzene. These products are safe to continue using.
While scary, this information is by no means a reason to stop wearing sunscreen altogether, nor is it a reason to believe that sunscreen is unsafe. Just as food products undergo recalls from time to time, cosmetic and medical products can as well. Sunscreen is still crucial for blocking harmful UV rays and protecting yourself against skin cancer, and should be applied daily.
Valisure wrote, "It is important to note that not all sunscreen products contain benzene and that uncontaminated products are available, should continue to be used, and are important for protecting against potentially harmful solar radiation."