When Ingrid Anglin and Christina New Land purchased bottles of Banana Boat Sunscreen for Kids at the Target store in Deerfield Beach, they believed the tropical-scented salve would protect their children from South Florida’s searing sun. After all, there was the number 50 on a red shield and a red label that stated, “Broad Spectrum SPF 50.” But independent lab testing later revealed that the substance Anglin was dousing her 7-year-old son with and that New Land was spraying on her 6-year-old twin daughters was only SPF 8.
Last month, the two Broward moms came together to file what they hope a judge will certify as a class-action lawsuit against Edgewell Personal Care, the parent company of the sunscreen giant. The lawsuit accuses Edgewell of deceptively overstating the product’s sun-blocking abilities and putting children at risk of sunburn and cancer. After all, the American Academy of Dermatology only recommends at least an SPF 30.
Both moms 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.”
There are two main types of sunlight that reach us: UVA rays that penetrate deep into our skin and UVB rays that cause sunburn. Sunscreen is designed to prevent these rays from causing skin cancer and sagging skin. The effectiveness of a certain sunscreen is measured by its SPF rating, which expresses the amount of time it will take for UV rays to redden skin when using sunscreen compared to when not using any sunscreen.
Citing the difference between SPF 50 and SPF 8, the suit states: “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.”
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The plaintiffs’ lawyer estimates that there are “thousands, if not tens of thousands” of people who purchased the faulty sunscreen in Florida. They call the defendants “immoral, unethical, unscrupulous and substantially injurious to consumers” and allege that Ingrid Anglin, Christina New Land, and others “were induced to purchase Defendant’s Product, and have suffered damages.”
Banana Boat is part of the Missouri-based Edgewell Personal Care Company, which produces more than 25 brands, including Playtex and Skintimate, in more than 50 countries. They profited close to $1.2 billion in 2015, the lawsuit states. A spokesperson for Banana Boat sent the following statement:
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.
The plaintiff's attorney, Marc Wites of Lighthouse Point, was not available for comment.