The Washington Post

Banana Boat sunscreen for hair, scalp is recalled over traces of carcinogen


The maker of Banana Boat recalled three batches of spray-on sunscreen after an internal review found trace levels of benzene in the products.

The Food and Drug Administra­tion announced that an unexpected level of the carcinogen was detected in the propellant that sprays the sunscreen out of the can, even though it is not an ingredient in the sunscreen itself.

The recall covers Banana Boat spray-on cans of SPF 30 Hair & Scalp Defense sunscreen with product code 0-79656-04041-8 and one of the following three lot codes: 20016AF, 20084BF or 21139AF.

Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen that can be ingested through inhalation, the skin or orally. Long-term and repeated exposure to the chemical at high-enough levels can cause leukemia or other cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the short term, those exposed may experience dizziness, an irregular heartbeat or other symptoms.

The FDA said that the sunscreen manufactur­er, Edgewell Personal Care, has not seen any “adverse events” related to the recall, and noted that even daily exposure to the amount of benzene discovered in the recalled products would not be expected to cause any adverse health outcomes.

“Benzene is ubiquitous in the environmen­t,” the FDA wrote in an unsigned release. “Humans around the world have daily exposures to it indoors and outdoors from multiple sources.” It’s also found in gasoline, rubber, waxes and a range of other products.

Edgewell produces an array of drugstore favorites — including the Schick, Playtex and Hawaiian Tropic brands — and has a market capitaliza­tion of $2.1 billion. It is offering a full reimbursem­ent for anyone who purchased the recalled products. Additional informatio­n can be found at

Benzene has turned up in other sun-care products. In May 2021, the independen­t laboratory Valisure sparked a flurry of headlines after announcing that it had detected the carcinogen in 78 sunscreens and after-sun products. That moved many healthcare profession­als to emphasize that sunscreen is safe and can reduce the risk of skin cancer.

More Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other types of cancer combined, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation; 1 in 5 will develop the disease by the time they turn 70.

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