Sunscreens You Should Avoid: J&J Neutrogena, Coppertone, And More

If you’re thinking about reusing your left over sunscreen from last year, think again.

Last spring, at least 15 brands and 25 million sunscreen and after-sun care products were recalled for containing low levels of a known carcinogen, benzene.

Benzene is considered to be a highly flammable chemical that is typically found in crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. It can also be traced when manufacturing plastics, synthetic fibers, dyes, detergents, as well as pesticides.

Long term exposure at high levels can increase cancer risk, cause damage to the immune system, and prevent cells from functioning properly according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the shorter term, breathing in the carcinogen can cause dizziness, headaches, and other symptoms.

Before dabbling in last year’s leftover supply, recheck your labels for lot numbers to discard of any previously recalled items.

Recent Sunscreen Recalled List

Among the list of 78 sunscreens that tested positive for low levels of benzene, Johnson & Johnson recalled five of it’s products including:

  • 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

and Coppertone also recalled several of its products including:

  • Coppertone Pure & Simple SPF 50, 
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids SPF 50
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50
  • Coppertone Sport Mineral SPF 50
  • Travel-size Coppertone Sport Spray SPF 50

While these brands removed their products from shelves temporarily, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement, “use of these products would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences” and were recalled “out of an abundance of caution.”

Woman putting on sunscreen
Woman applying sunscreen [Shutterstock]

Consumer Reports tested aerosol products for benzene in this year’s sunscreen ratings and test results came back negative for the carcinogen.

It’s important to note that benzene isn’t an active ingredient listed in the products, so label checking isn’t sufficient.

The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement, “This contamination may be related to inactive ingredients such as carbomers (thickening agents), isobutane (a spray propellant), or other drug components made from hydrocarbons,” according to Consumer Reports.

Experts say consumers should continue to use safe sunscreen options, as it helps avoid skin cancer and other sun-related damage.

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