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Benzene in Spray Deodorant

Answer:

Benzene, which has been linked to blood cancers, has been reported in spray deodorants and antiperspirants that were independently tested in 2021. Benzene was found in 44 out of 86 distinct products from 30 brands of spray deodorants and antiperspirants.

ConsumerLab's staff has analyzed the results of these tests and identified which products we think should be avoided and which are safest with regard to benzene contamination. Sign in as a member to see the findings.

We don't know the source of the benzene, but it could relate to how a particular ingredient was manufactured, where it was sourced, or how it moved through the supply chain. Aluminum chlorohydrate (anhydrous) was the listed key active ingredient in most products, regardless of their level of benzene, and is unlikely to account for the presence of benzene. It is more likely that the benzene arose from other ingredients in the products, such as butane, isobutane, or propane, which are propellants in sprays.

Products tested include those from these brands: Arrid, Axe, Azzaro, Bath & Body Works, Brut, Calvin Klein, Davidoff, Degree, Designer Imports, Dove, Duke Cannon, Equate, Gold Bond, Guy Laroche, Hollister, Kenneth Cole, Land of the Free, Nautica, Powder Stick, Prince Matchabelli, Right Guard, Secret, Speed Stick, Suave, Sure, Summer's Eve, Soft & Dri, Tag, Old Spice, and Victoria's Secret.

Also see our article about benzene in sun care products.

[UPDATE: 11/18/21: Two popular foot powder sprays were recalled after benzene, a carcinogen, was found in many lots. Information about the products has been added to our full answer. Sign in for details about these and other deodorants and antiperspirants.]

[UPDATE: 11/24/21: Two aerosol spray products were recalled after benzene was detected in multiple lots. Information about the products has been added to our full answer.]

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24 Comments

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Mark23912
November 28, 2021

As an old industrial chemist, I can tell you that many industrial hydrocarbons contain some benzene. The producers almost all do a good job of reducing it to minimal levels but it no doubt varies from source to source. But, I question how important this is. Years ago, homeowners and professional mechanics used hydrocarbon solvents to clean and degrease metal parts. And, gloves were rarely worn. When gasoline was the solvent of choice, they were dealing with a solvent that could easily contain 10% benzene (and back then, tetraethyl lead). Yet most did not die of cancer. So, is it sensible to worry people over low ppm levels of benzene in an application where the exposure is fleeting? There are probably plenty of other health threats that are higher priority. Would it be better to focus on them?

Scott23908
November 28, 2021

Ban roll on was not tested?

ConsumerLab.com
November 28, 2021

Only sprays were tested, as they are more likely to have this problem due to their propellants, as we note.

TS
November 21, 2021

I don't understand why there is concern about benzene in a few specific products such as deoderants, sunscreen, and most recently a recall on OdorEaters when there are mutliple peer reviewed professionally published reports by chemists about how common benzene is in the VOCs of many fragranced products. This seems like whack-a-mole.

Velga23851
November 19, 2021

If sprays are suspect for deodorants, wouldn't hair sprays also possibly be problematic?

ConsumerLab.com
November 19, 2021

Yes, that's quite possible, although, unlike sunscreens and antiperspirants/deodorants, hair spray is not intended to be applied to the skin (where it can be absorbed), although it could still be inhaled.

Victoria23906
November 28, 2021

Can’t spray your hair without getting it on your skin!

Suzanne23758
November 8, 2021

Hi there. Internal medicine M.D. here ( I remember well the definite Acute Leukemia, Aplastic Anemia, and Benzene links taught to us in medical school). Is there any more detailed information about the source of the benzene in the aerosols? Mention is made of Butane, etc. - is this the propellant used for the sprays? If so, what is the actual source of the Butane used by these companies? Thank You.

ConsumerLab.com
November 8, 2021

Yes, it is believed the the propellants are the source of the benzene, but we don't know exactly how or why. If we learn more, we'll publish it.

Jeanne23848
November 19, 2021

This makes me concerned about dry shampoo sprays! They use the various butanes as propellants, Batiste brand is in all major stores and has isobutane and others. Yikes! I use this product weekly….

Ray23720
November 5, 2021

I use Tom's of Maine Deodorant and their fluoride free toothpaste.

Mary23716
November 4, 2021

Lotrimin and Tinactin sprays were recalled in October due to the presence of benzene:
https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/bayer-issues-voluntary-recall-specific-lotriminr-and-tinactinr-spray-products-due-presence-benzene

Ellie23715
November 4, 2021

I use Secret in stick form. However, the tests were on the sprays. Can I consider the stick form to be without benzene?

ConsumerLab.com
November 5, 2021

We don't know for sure, but it would seem less likely, as it does not contain the propellants that may be the source of the benzene.

Laura23752
November 7, 2021

If the propellants are the source of the benzene, wouldn't it seem reasonable that stick form would be a lot safer. So many of the products reviewed are sprays.

ConsumerLab.com
November 7, 2021

Yes, that is quite possible. And, to clarify, only sprays were tested, as noted in our article and the results table -- some of the brands may sound like sticks, but it was their spray products that were tested.

Darla23697
November 4, 2021

Butane comes out of the fracking process. Benzene is used in that process. I wouldn't be surprised if that is where it came from.

Charlotte23693
November 4, 2021

Do only sprays contain benzene and not the solids? Thank you

ConsumerLab.com
November 4, 2021

Solids and roll-ons were not tested, but this may be more of a problem with sprays (and, possibly, the propellants in sprays, like butane), as was the case with sunscreens that were tested earlier this year, where high concentrations of benzene were more likely in sprays than in lotions.

Rosemary 23717
November 4, 2021

Is Butane and isobutane in deodorant sprays an issue?

ConsumerLab.com
November 5, 2021

It is speculated that these, as well as propane, may be at issue for benzene contamination.

Katherine23762
November 9, 2021

I am confused as to why only sprays were tested. Don't most people use stick deodorants? Is it because they do not contain benzene?

ConsumerLab.com
November 9, 2021

As noted above, there is greater concern with benzene in sprays.

Sean23792
November 13, 2021

This is crazy—thank you for testing. I never would’ve thought to worry about my deodorant.

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