Banana Boat Recalled a Sunscreen Spray Due to Benzene — Here's What You Need to Know

An internal review found some samples from three batches of the brand's Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 contain trace levels of benzene.

Banana Boat Sunscreen
Photo: Banana Boat

Sunscreen brand Banana Boat issued a nationwide recall of its Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 last week. An internal review found trace levels of benzene in some samples of three batches of the product, according to a company announcement shared on July 29. During an internal review, the company found "unexpected levels of benzene" from the propellant that expels the sunscreen from the aerosol can, according to the announcement.

ICYDK, benzene is a chemical that is a known carcinogen which has been linked to serious medical conditions, including cancer, in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Low levels of benzene are found in outdoor air due to tobacco smoke, gas stations, vehicle exhaust, and industrial emissions, and benzene's ability to impact a person's health depends on the amount and length of time of exposure (i.e., more exposure equals higher risk for adverse effects), adds the CDC. While benzene isn't an ingredient in any Banana Boat products, it may have contaminated the sunscreen during the production process.

If benzene sounds familiar, it might be because this isn't the first time sunscreen brands have recalled products due to the carcinogen. Last summer, an online pharmacy called Valisure tested 294 sunscreens and sun aftercare products and found 78 of them contained benzene. The report included popular brands such as Neutrogena, Aveeno, Sun Bum, and Banana Boat. Around the same time, Johnson & Johnson recalled five of its Neutrogena and Aveeno spray sunscreens due to benzene being detected in samples.

While sunscreen is an important and effective way to prevent sun damage and skin cancer, reports of sunscreen containing potentially dangerous carcinogens have led to some consumer distrust in the product. "There's confusion and misinformation about sunscreen that unfortunately has led to growing skepticism and a general fear factor that sunscreens are dangerous when in fact not using them is more dangerous," Ava Shamban, M.D., a Los Angeles-based dermatologist, previously told Shape. Perhaps you've even seen videos on TikTok of people making their own DIY sunscreen. Spoiler alert: it's not a good idea. (Psst: SPF and Sun Protection Myths to Stop Believing, Stat)

With its latest recall, Banana Boat has notified retailers to remove recalled products from store shelves and it is offering reimbursements to consumers who bought the sunscreen. You can find out if a can of Banana Boat's Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 was part of the recall by looking at the lot code on the bottom of the can. If you have a can with a number that matches one of the three batches listed on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website, stop using it and toss it in the trash right away.

While finding a half-used recalled can in your bathroom cabinet might feel scary, there's no reason to panic. "Daily exposure to benzene in the recalled products would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences, according to an independent health assessment using established exposure modeling guidelines," reports the FDA. So far, no one has reported adverse reactions to using the product.

Although it's necessary to follow recall guidelines, wearing SPF daily helps prevent skin cancer and the effects of aging on skin. So it's important to not let news of recalls dissuade you from using sun protection in general. (Next up: The Best Sunscreens Tested and Approved By Shape Editors)

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