Information for the Canadian Public

CDA recommends the continued use of sunscreen following a recent U.S.
investigation reporting findings of benzene in certain U.S. products

The Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) is committed to preventing skin cancer.  As certified dermatologists, we encourage you to be sun safe to reduce your risk of skin cancer. We recommend that you:

Continue to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation by:

  • Limiting sun exposure, especially between 11 am and 3 pm (during mid-day)
  • Planning outdoor activities in the shade as much as possible
  • Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible; and
  • Continue to apply liberally and frequently broad-spectrum sunscreens with a SPF of 30 or higher to exposed skin. Applying sunscreen is an important, effective, and scientifically proven method to prevent the harmful effects of the sun, including skin cancer.

For a current list of the 90+ sunscreens recognized by the CDA, visit

This information is in response to the June 2021 investigation of 294 sunscreen and after-sun products by Valisure, an independent US pharmaceutical product testing company, that found some sunscreens in the United States contain detectable levels of benzene, a known carcinogen. A similar finding has not been demonstrated in Canada.

The benzene contamination was likely due to a manufacturing process problem as:

  • Benzene was not a listed ingredient in any of these products
  • Levels of benzene varied significantly from batch to batch, even within a single brand; and that ingredients within the sunscreen did not cause benzene to form
  • The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) will review a Citizen Petition to investigate the manufacturing processes of sunscreen manufacturers.

The CDA will continue to monitor the situation and inform the Canadian public as it unfolds. There is no direct data on systemic absorption of benzene from applying sunscreen with this contaminant. There is indirect data demonstrating sunscreen users of any frequency were less likely to have elevated blood concentrations of benzene compared to non-users, suggesting that the risk of systemic benzene exposure from sunscreen use may be low (Chang MS, Moore KJ, Trepanowski N, Koru-Sengul T, Hartman RI. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003–2006 and 2009–2018 show that sunscreen use is not associated with increased blood concentrations of benzene among adults in the United States. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2021 Sep 10:S0190-9622(21)02444-0.). If you are concerned about the ingredients in your sunscreen, talk to a Royal College-certified dermatologist to develop a sun-protection plan that works for you.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada. Exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays is the greatest environmental risk factor for skin cancer. Scientific evidence supports the benefits of using sunscreen to decrease the short-term and long-term damage to the skin from the sun.

Approved and released by the Canadian Dermatology Association 15 July 2021
Reviewed and updated April 2022