Just say no to spray sunscreens

Published on July 15th, 2021

When Johnson & Johnson announced this week that the company was recalling five of its aerosol sunscreen products due to the discovery of trace amounts of benzene, a carcinogen, in some samples, it prompted a reminder from Dr. Olasz Harken, founder of Harken Derm skin products:
I have always recommended against using spray sunscreens for the following reasons:

1. Uneven distribution on the skin unless rubbed in, therefore a greater risk of burning and other UV damage (skin cancer and skin aging).
2. Air pollution. Aerosolized sunscreen particles, especially if they contain chemical filters such as oxybenzone, harm the environment and marine ecosystems. On a windy day, sunscreen ingredients have been detected far away from the source.
3. Aerosols affect our climate.
4. Potentially inhalation can be harmful causing lung irritation or asthma attack. You for sure don’t want to inhale benzene that has been found in some of the spray sunscreens.
5. FDA issued a warning against the use of spray sunscreens especially on children. Unfortunately, parents like to use spray because it’s seemingly more convenient. How many times have you seen parents running after their kids with a spray?

Despite all this, spray formulations are sold in higher quantities than any other forms of sunscreen.
The specific products being recalled are:

• 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.

Benzene is not an ingredient used in the sunscreens. The company said it’s reviewing how the chemical might have gotten into certain samples. For details on the recall, click here.

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