Sunscreen is a precaution to protect the skin from burns and premature signs of aging. People should wear it every day on their faces to safeguard their skin no matter the weather.
Two primary forms of sunscreen exist to protect the skin from UV rays: chemical and mineral sunscreens. Mineral sunscreen relies on FDA-approved ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxide to block the sun. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens rely on substances such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone.
The FDA and many scientists question the safety of chemical sunscreens because of the risk of chemical sunscreen contamination. Benzene is the primary contaminative chemical in question. Over the last few years, researchers have detected benzene in many popular sunscreen products across the nation. Read on to learn everything you need to know about benzene in sunscreen to keep yourself and others protected and healthy.
What Is Benzene and Where Does It Come From?
Benzene is a known carcinogen, a cancer-causing substance. It’s a highly flammable chemical compound that’s naturally found in crude oil and gasoline. Vehicle fuel evaporation and burning oil or coal emit benzene. Its primary use is for manufacturing plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber, lubricants, pesticides, drugs, and dyes.
Given all this, you might be confused as to why benzene would appear in any sunscreen products at all. The simple answer is due to contamination, but there’s plenty more to learn.
How Does Benzene Affect Human Health?
Benzene is a pollutant. When it enters the atmosphere, it can react with other chemicals to create smog and result in water and soil contamination.
As benzene lingers in the air, people can inhale it. The hazardous chemical can cause cancer, impact the immune system, cause respiratory complications, and affect the nervous or reproductive systems. It can also lead to dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and skin irritation.
If benzene inhalation can lead to all these potential health complications, you might assume that benzene in sunscreen would have similar effects. However, there isn’t clear evidence quite yet for how benzene in sunscreen directly impacts one’s overall health. Scientists continue to research if it’s possible to absorb benzene through the skin. As of today, there isn’t a definite answer.
The Accepted Amount of Benzene According to the FDA
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established that benzene shouldn’t be an ingredient in drugs or sunscreen due to its toxic properties. However, there is an exception. Some drugs can contain concentrations of less than two parts per million (ppm) if benzene is a necessary element that provides sufficient medical benefits. There is testing in place that drug manufacturers must abide by to distribute medications containing benzene.
Benzene Shouldn’t Be in Your Sunscreen Products
Even though benzene is allowed in small amounts in sunscreen products, it isn’t a standard ingredient. So how did benzene find its way into sunscreen products? The truth is that the benzene additive was an accident. It remains unclear exactly how this mistake occurred. Some scientists hypothesize various substances in aerosol sunscreens combined to create benzene. Others figure the creation of other products in factories that also produce sunscreen are to blame for the contamination.
Stay Away From Aerosol Sunscreens When Possible
Plenty of people use spray sunscreens because they’re quick and easy to apply. But this seemingly harmless habit could increase your risk of benzene exposure after prolonged usage.
Aerosol sunscreen products that contain benzene pose more of a threat. As you spray the product on your face, arms, chest, and legs, you’re more likely to breathe in benzene.
Plus, investigations found that aerosol sunscreens were the primary products contaminated with benzene. Lotion sunscreen is much less likely to contain the chemical. Since scientists haven’t officially determined if the skin can absorb benzene, lotion sunscreen is the safest option.
If spray sunscreen is the only product you have, spray it onto your hands first. Then, rub it on your body to lessen the chance of inhalation. This extra step in application will help protect you and your loved ones from the potential presence of benzene and the sun’s UV rays.
Understand the Lack of Contamination Testing
It may seem absurd that manufacturers put sunscreen products on shelves without testing them beforehand. The FDA has 17 approved ingredients for sunscreen, and benzene is not one of them. Unfortunately, there isn’t a widespread contamination test in place for sunscreen products. The FDA only requires tests to determine the effectiveness of each sunscreen and the SPF number.
In 2021, the independent pharmacy Valisure was the first to detect benzene in sunscreen products. The pharmacy tests various products to ensure they’re safe before reaching consumers. When testing sunscreen, they found some sunscreens contained three times the FDA-approved benzene concentration limit!
Check Your Sunscreen Products at Home
The Valisure lab discovered the presence of benzene in sunscreen products from 69 different companies. Some brands that issued recalls include Sun Bum, Coppertone, Neutrogena, CVS Health, Banana Boat, Aveeno, Walgreens, and more. Also, while many companies came forward to recall their items, not all were honest about the discovery.
If you have a bunch of sunscreen at home, you should check each product to see if it has been recalled. You don’t want to put yourself at risk of benzene exposure in the future. If you’re unsure about your sunscreen products containing benzene and want to replace your current options, focus on company and product transparency as you shop.
Now that you understand everything you need to know about benzene in sunscreen, you can make better decisions about the sunscreen you buy and apply. Always remember—wearing sunscreen every day is a must. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scorching hot day in summer or a snowy day in winter. Sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, and you can find quality products from trustworthy companies. You deserve a product that prevents irritated skin and contains exclusively safe, FDA-approved ingredients.
Jil Goorman Beauty is the perfect everyday option for your sunscreen. The specially designed sunscreen for sensitive acne-prone skin doesn’t contain hazardous chemicals. It works to block both UVA and UVB rays, moisturize the skin, and prevent early signs of aging. It also contains special properties to reduce inflammation and bacteria that cause acne.
Give our products a try! You’ll reap the wonderful benefits of the lightweight, effective sunscreen Jil Goorman Beauty supplies.