Even when sunscreen works at its best, there are shortfalls — from potentially dangerous chemicals to limited powers, such as when users swim and sweat and don’t reapply. But when the SPF labeling is just straight-up wrong — as an increasing number of upset parents claim was the case in lawsuits against Banana Boat — the results can be disastrous.
Earlier this summer, Paul Lambrakis sued the sunscreen maker after his daughter wore Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 and got a sunburn. The dad found out after getting the lotion lab tested that the product’s true SPF was only 12. Not long after, a St. Louis mom did the same, alleging fraud and seeking class-action status. And now, in the sun-drenched state of Florida, moms Ingrid Anglin and Christina New Land have joined forces to bring their own action against the product and its parent company, Edgewell Personal Care. That’s because, in their independent lab testing, the lotion labeled SPF 50 was actually only 8.
Though the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Marc Wites, was not available for comment, he told the New Times that he estimates there are “thousands, if not tens of thousands” of people who purchased the mislabeled sunscreen in Florida alone. Wites called the company “immoral, unethical, unscrupulous and substantially injurious to consumers” and alleged that the two moms and many others “were induced to purchase Defendant’s Product, and have suffered damages.”
The wave of Banana Boat suits began when Consumer Reports tipped folks off in May that it had investigated 64 sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30, which is the minimum level of protection recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. The study found that 43 percent of the lotions and sprays fell short of the SPF claim on their labels — some in a major way, including CVS Kids Sun Lotion SPF 50 and Banana Boat Kids 50, which both tested at an SPF of 8.
And that’s what Anglin and New Land, it turns out, had been rubbing all over their kids — a 7-year-old son and 6-year-old twin girls, respectively. Both, according to the suit, claim they “relied on the Defendant’s SPF labeling, understanding that this meant that the Product had a high SPF that would effectively block UV rays on her child… Among other things, excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer as well as skin aging and wrinkling.”
While Edgewell Personal Care does not comment on pending or ongoing litigation per company policy, a spokesperson tells Yahoo Beauty it did release the following statement regarding its products: “At Banana Boat, our goal is to provide families with safe, everyday sun protection, and so all of our products are rigorously tested to ensure that. People can feel confident that Banana Boat products provide safe and effective sun protection at their stated levels of SPF when applied as directed and with other sun protection measures as necessary.”
But the mounting lawsuits claim otherwise, with this latest one explaining the vast difference between SPF 50 and SPF 8, noted New Times: “Accordingly, instead of 1/50th of the UV radiation reaching the skin as represented by Defendants, 1/8th reaches the skin. Using the measure of time indicated above — with an individual developing a sunburn in 10 minutes without applying sunscreen — the same individual would avoid sunburn for only 80 minutes if wearing the Product instead of the 500 minutes the Product — labeled SPF 50 — was represented to provide.”