You’re unique, your products should be too

Hair + Beauty

What To Know: Popular Sunscreens Contaminated with Carcinogen

Benzene was detected in 78 batches of popular sunscreen and after-sun products, per a new report.

Sunscreen is a crucial step in a redhead’s skincare routine, but some brands might not be living up to their safety promises. Last week, an independent lab called Valisure Labs, announced it discovered potentially harmful levels of benzene (a known carcinogen) in several popular sun-care products. No amount of benzene is safe, but Valisure noted that it is especially harmful in large amounts.

Now, they’re calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recall the affected batches. In a report released May 24, Valisure explains it analyzed 294 batches of sunscreen and after-sun products from 69 brands. Benzene was detected in 78 (over a quarter) of those batches—and 14 of them contained more than the FDA’s limit of 2 parts per million (ppm).

“Sprays, gels, and lotions with both chemical and mineral-based formulations contained benzene,” Valisure writes.

Neutrogena, Sun Bum, CVS Health, and Fruit of the Earth were among the brands with the highest levels of the carcinogen, per the lab’s results.

What is benzene? 

Benzene takes the form of a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s used in plastic production and appears in gasoline and cigarette smoke. Long-term exposure to benzene primarily impacts the blood, the CDC notes, potentially leading to leukemia and other blood disorders.

It’s believed that the contamination in sunscreen is more likely a result of the manufacturing process.

Here is the complete list of the various batches of sunscreen and after-sun care products in which benzene was detected at 2 ppm or higher: 

For a complete list of various batches of sunscreen for which benzene was not detected through initial analysis of at least one sample from each batch, see the complete list here. The picks below contained no benzene, per the report:


Are you wondering how dangerous this all is? 

For now, we can’t be sure. The FDA classifies benzene as a Class 1 solvent, meaning it should be avoided in the manufacturing of drugs and drug products unless absolutely necessary. There isn’t any measure of how much benzene is safe to include in sun-care products.

It’s understandable to throw away any of the sunscreens cited in the report. Valisure recommends disposing of the affected batches—and you can even reach out to the lab to send it a sample of your SPF before tossing it.

Important: don’t stop using sunscreen! 



It’s crucial to protect your redhead skin from damaging UV rays and remember, redheads are more prone to melanoma than other sunscreens. Make sure you’re using a safe sunscreen — like the items included in H2BAR Boxes — and Rock it like a Redhead! 

Subscribe to the H2BAR Box: A monthly and quarterly beauty subscription box for redheads! Use code: REDHAIR for 10% off. Subscribe now!