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What Does the Benzene in Sunscreen Study Actually Mean?

What Does the Benzene in Sunscreen Study Actually Mean?


The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), an organization representing more than 90 percent of companies in the U.S. beauty industry, released a statement in support of the American consumer and acknowledging the Valisure report.

“The PCPC and its member companies are firmly committed to ensuring consumers have access to cosmetics and personal care products with ingredients that have been thoroughly tested for safety and follow the requirements of the law,” begins the statement. “There is nothing more important than safety. If our consumers can’t believe in a product or rely on it to do what it says, then nothing else matters.”

On an individual level, there are precautions you can take. If you have any sunscreen in your home (and we hope you do!), cross-check the batch number on the sunscreens and after-sun products you own with Valisure’s list of contaminated suncare products for peace of mind. Although the location can vary, most often, you can find the 7-figure batch number on the bottom of spray cans and sticks, as well as on the backs of squeeze bottles, usually on the side.

“With the lot number, I can go and check the lot numbers or batch numbers to see whether or not I have a contaminated product or not,” says Robinson, who notes that this narrowing down is helpful for brands, too. “We all agree that it shouldn’t be there. And the question is: If that’s the case, how did it get there? Was it a by-product?”

But whatever you do, urges Avram, absolutely do not stop wearing sunscreen. “That would be a complete misread of this report,” he says, adding that the study found there were hundreds of sunscreens that tested negative for benzene. “The only advice I would give is for people to become familiar with that list of sunscreens and then accordingly, determine which specific products on that list didn’t contain benzene, and use those.”

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) echoed Avram’s sentiments about the importance of sunscreen, while also reminding us that sunscreen is just one piece of the sun-protection puzzle, along with physical barriers, like shade and sun-protective clothing. Their statement from president Kenneth J. Tomecki, also calls on the FDA to investigate, stating that the AADA “looks forward to the FDA’s review of this report” and subsequently, “how it should be addressed.”

Additional reporting by Kara McGrath. 


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