A Cancer-Causing Substance Detected in Well-Known Skincare Labels Such as Clearasil and Clinique

Ever heard of Benzene?

Benzene, a hazardous chemical notorious for causing cancer, has been brought to attention by a recent study conducted by Valisure, a renowned testing company. The study revealed that skincare items containing benzoyl peroxide, a common ingredient found in various acne medications and favored by beauty brands like Clearasil and Clinique, can potentially yield high levels of benzene if exposed to heat. This exposure can occur in scenarios such as leaving these products in a hot car or a steamy bathroom.

Health hazards linked to Benzene in Skincare

The dangers associated with long-term exposure to even minimal levels of benzene are alarming. Classified as a carcinogen, benzene ranks alongside asbestos and lead in terms of its cancer-causing properties. Valisure’s findings prompted them to petition the FDA to delve deeper into these products and consider removing them from the market.

Research indicates that any level of benzene exposure may pose a risk of cancer development in humans. Studies cited by the American Cancer Society, particularly from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), have linked benzene exposure to various types of leukemia, lymphomas, and multiple myeloma. Currently, the FDA permits minimal benzene content (less than 2 parts per million) in medications only under unavoidable circumstances.

Although there is limited research regarding the specific correlation between benzene-contaminated skincare products and cancer, recent studies suggest that even low levels of ambient benzene exposure can heighten the risk of mortality, heart disease, and several types of cancer. These risks are primarily associated with prolonged usage, with immediate health repercussions being relatively rare.

Safely Storing and Using Benzoyl Peroxide Products

It’s been known for quite some time that benzoyl peroxide has the potential to degrade into benzene, especially under the influence of heat. Valisure’s experiments unveiled startling results – storing a popular acne product at a temperature of 158°F (comparable to a hot car’s interior) for just 17 hours resulted in benzene gas levels that were 1,270 times higher than the EPA’s recommended safe long-term inhalation threshold. Similarly, a test conducted at 104°F (resembling a hot bathroom environment) revealed benzene levels exceeding the EPA’s threshold by four times. Fortunately, products lacking benzoyl peroxide, such as those based on salicylic acid or adapalene, showed no such effect.


Dr. Christopher Bunick, a dermatologist, advises against using benzoyl peroxide acne products that have been stored in hot environments like cars or bathrooms. While there’s no foolproof method to completely halt the breakdown of benzoyl peroxide, cooler temperatures can help slow down the process. Dr. Bunick suggests refrigerating benzoyl peroxide products as the optimal solution for those who opt to continue using them.

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