CeraVe Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against L’Oreal Over Benzene in Acne Products

Cosmetic manufacturers face a growing number of personal injury and class action lawsuits over benzene in acne treatment products, following an independent report released this month.

According to allegations raised in a class action lawsuit against L’Oréal, CeraVe acne treatment products contain dangerously high levels of benzene, exposing consumers to a known human carcinogen that has been linked to the development of leukemia and other blood cancers.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Holly Grossenbacher in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on March 15, seeking class action status to pursue damages on behalf of all consumers who purchased benzene-contaminated CeraVe products manufactured by L’Oréal USA, LLC.

The lawsuit joins a number of other similar complaints filed in recent weeks, after the independent laboratory Valisure released a report warning that benzene forms in acne products made with benzoyl peroxide, at levels hundreds of times higher than federally allowed.

Following the discovery, the laboratory filed a citizen’s petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging it to issue a recall and stop sales for all products containing the chemical, and a number of manufacturers now face lawsuits over their acne treatment products.

According to the CeraVe lawsuit, Grossenbacher, of Louisiana, claims she and other consumers were exposed to dangerous levels of benzene in various different products that contain benzoyl peroxide, including CeraVe Acne Foam Cream Cleanser and CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Wash.

According to the findings of the Valisure report, benzene levels found in the CeraVe acne cleansers surpasses federally accepted limits of up to 2 ppm for benzene, which is only allowed if the presence of the chemical is unavoidable during the manufacturing process. The lawsuit indicates that CeraVe cleansers with benzoyl peroxide can contain benzene levels ranging from five parts per million (ppm) to more than 12 ppm.

Grossenbacher alleges the ingredient is unstable and can continue to degrade, causing high levels to emit from the product packaging, which can expose users and anyone near the products to long-term benzene inhalation risks.

Benzene Exposure Risks

Benzene is an industrial chemical that has been linked to the development of several fatal forms of cancer and life-threatening health conditions, such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML), Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL), Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma, Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDL), Myelofibrosis, Myeloid Metaplasia, Aplastic Anemia and Thrombocytopenic Purpura.

Long-term side effects of benzene exposure have also been proven to cause anemia, which is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Research published in 2021 found benzene exposure is associated with an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma and hairy cell leukemia cancers.

High benzene levels have been found in many aerosol spray products sold in recent years, leading to a number of sunscreen, deodorant, and antiperspirant recalls.

A massive sunscreen recall was issued in 2021 over benzene contamination, after testing revealed dangerous benzene levels in 78 sunscreen and after-sun care products, with more than a quarter of products exceeding 2 parts per million (ppm). Following the discovery, a number of recalls were issued for sunscreen spray and mist products, including Neutrogena and Aveeno.

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Sunscreen Recall Lawsuits

Leukemia, lymphoma and other cancer may be caused by benzene in Neutrogena, Aveeno, Coppertone and other sunscreens.


High benzene levels were also found in certain Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI and TRESemmé dry shampoo products, resulting in a Unilever dry shampoo recall products in 2021. The contamination stemmed from the propellant used by the manufacturer.

In 2022, an Old Spice and Secret deodorant recall was issued over high levels of benzene found in those aerosol spray products. A similar Suave antiperspirant spray recall was issued the same year.

Several Banana Boat sunscreen spray recalls have also been issued over benzene contamination. The most recent Banana Boat recall was issued in 2023 after additional aerosol spray products were determined to contain high benzene levels.

Last month, a Ting Athlete’s Foot spray recall was issued after benzene contamination was found. A similar Ting spray recall for the antifungal aerosol spray products was announced in late November 2023.

Benzene Recall Lawsuits

The Valisure report findings have triggered a number of lawsuits from users of products with benzoyl peroxide. A similar Clean & Clear and Neutrogena lawsuit was filed against Johnson & Johnson on March 8, alleging consumers were exposed to unsafe benzene levels after using those acne treatment products.

Johnson & Johnson faced at least eight class action lawsuits over benzene exposure linked to its spray sunscreens. The court issued final approval for a Neutrogena and Aveeno spray sunscreen class action settlement in February 2023. Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $1.75 million in vouchers to consumers who purchased benzene-tainted products, which were not included in the 2021 recall.

In October 2023, a federal judge granted approval to a $3.1 million Batiste dry shampoo settlement agreement, which included a $2.5 million cash fund and $600,000 in vouchers for consumers who purchased the benzene-contaminated shampoo products. The settlement resolved a similar class action lawsuit filed against the manufacturer, Church & Dwight, Co. over benzene contamination in its dry shampoo spray products. The lawsuit stemmed from a Unilever dry shampoo recall issued in October 2022, after elevated benzene levels were detected from the spray can propellant used by the manufacturer.


  • RuthMarch 27, 2024 at 9:57 am

    These items were prescribed for me to take for years for my sensitive skin care. Smh scary.

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