Secret and Old Spice Deodorants Are Pulled from Shelves Due to Cancer-Linked Chemical

Photo credit: Courtesy of Procter & Gamble / Brands

  • Officials at Procter & Gamble Co. are recalling more than 15 different deodorant and aerosol sprays manufactured under its Old Spice and Secret brands.

  • The recall is being launched after company officials began sampling its aerosol products and detected benzene, a known carcinogen, in a suite of deodorants.

  • Company officials say they launched a voluntary investigation and subsequent recall after a mass recall linked to benzene in sunscreen was initiated earlier this summer.

  • Customers can request a full refund for any of the 16 different products listed in full below.

Just a few months after multiple high-profile recalls for tainted sunscreen, Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) issued a new recall over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend for more than 15 Secret and Old Spice-branded spray deodorants and other aerosol-based products. The company says that samples of these products have returned positive for benzene, a cancer-linked chemical that health experts have long-established may increase cancer risk over time and with repeated exposure.

The recall notice shared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and published by P&G — which owns a suite of brands ranging from Crest to Tide and more — indicates that deodorant products in question likely contain a minimal amount of benzene; a threshold that won't cause immediate health issues to consumers. “The Procter & Gamble Company has not received any reports of adverse events related to this recall and is conducting this recall out of an abundance of caution,” the notice reads.

Recalled deodorants were sold both in stores and online, and were likely manufactured recently, as expiration dates for most products in question range into 2023. P&G is asking customers to dispose of the following deodorants immediately and is offering impacted shoppers a full refund of their purchase.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Procter & Gamble / Brands

Photo credit: Courtesy of Procter & Gamble / Brands

Customers can request refunds directly from Old Spice and Secret via online inquiries, or may contact customer service at 888-339-7689 during weekday business hours.

Below is a full list of products impacted by P&G's voluntary recall, with expiration dates that are listed prior to September 2023:

  • Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Invisible Spray Stronger Swagger

  • Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Invisible Spray Pure Sport Plus

  • Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Invisible Spray Stronger Swagger

  • Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Invisible Spray Ultimate Captain

  • Old Spice High Endurance AP Spray Pure Sport

  • Old Spice Below Deck Powder Spray Unscented

  • Old Spice Below Deck Powder Spray Fresh Air

  • Old Spice Pure Sport 2021 Gift Set

  • Secret Aerosol Powder Fresh Twin Pack

  • Secret Aerosol Powder Fresh

  • Secret Fresh Collection Invisible Spray Waterlily

  • Secret Fresh Collection Invisible Spray Lavender

  • Secret Fresh Collection Invisible Spray Light Essentials

  • Secret Fresh Collection Invisible Spray Rose

  • Secret Outlast Invisible Spray Completely Clean

  • Secret Outlast Invisible Spray Protecting Powder

P&G's recall notes that benzene exposure may occur orally, topically through skin application, or by inhalation, which is likely for aerosol-based products like these. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company said it began looking for the chemical in its own products after other manufacturers found the chemical contaminating sunscreen sprays earlier this year.

Exposure to the chemical may “result in cancers, including leukemia and blood cancer of the bone marrow, and blood disorders which can be life-threatening,” according to the recall notice. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated that benzene may trigger white blood cell irregularity or anemia over time.

Health experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute have previously reported that manufacturing experts are currently unsure of how the flammable, colorless chemical has leached into products like sunscreen. Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson, Aveeno and Neutrogena issued multiple recalls that spanned over 50 different products after discovering the chemical in sampling — and this fall, Coppertone pulled five of their own products after a similar occurrence.

Benzene isn't an active ingredient in sunscreen or deodorant, but the chemical likely works its way into everyday items as a byproduct of how brands choose to manufacture their products. Experts have told Good Housekeeping previously that benzene may also be inadvertently introduced into sunscreens in production of other ingredients like alcohol or aloe vera extracts.

P&G officials stress that a bulk of their deodorant offerings beneath the Old Spice and Secret brands — including solid sticks, gel antiperspirants and soft solids — are not affected by this recall. If you're among those who have purchased implicated deodorant, FDA officials are directing anyone who may have experienced side effects or a harmful reaction to fill out digital case report forms here.

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