Bannister Law claims Banana Boat failed lab tests, plans class action

They're advertised as SPF 50+

Seven Banana Boat sunscreens have allegedly failed to meet the advertised SPF 50+ claims by more than half, resulting in the potential filing of a class action lawsuit by a mother and her five children.

Bannister Law is taking registrations against Edgewell Personal Care Australia, the manufacturer of popular sunscreen brand Banana Boat, after it commissioned laboratory tests of the company's SPF50+ sunscreen sprays that returned averaged ratings of SPF20 or less.

"All seven aerosol varieties we tested fell well short of the marketed SPF 50+," says Charles Bannister, founder and principle of Bannister Law. "To claim SPF 50+, products need to test greater that 60+."

Bannister Law claims the best performing sunscreen achieved an average SPF rating of 20.2, while the worst performing scored 10.7. Each sunscreen spray was tested ten times according to international standards by the laboratory Eurofins Dermatest.

Banana Boat SPF test results
Sunscreen SPF*
Banana Boat Kids Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ 20.2
Banana Boat Ultra Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ 17.7
Banana Boat Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ 18.0
Banana Boat Everyday Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ 19.5
Banana Boat SunComfort Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ 10.7
Banana Boat Dry Balance Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ 13.5
Banana Boat Sport Coolzone Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ 16.1
Source: Bannister Law. Lab tests conducted by Eurofins Dermatest Pty Ltd according to Australian Standards, which necessitate following International Standard ISO 24444. 
*Average of 10 test results.

Leading the class action is a mother and her five children, who Bannister Law claims were repeatedly burned despite using two Banana Boat products: its Ultra Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ and Kids Clear Sunscreen Spray 50+.

All of her children are believed to be under the age of ten.

Edgewell Personal Care rejected the test results, instead describing them as "anomalous".

"All Banana Boat products meet the SPF claim as labelled on pack," a company spokesperson tells CHOICE.

"These results are entirely inconsistent with the testing we have conducted at Edgewell's reputable labs, in accordance with the Australian mandatory standard as regulated by the TGA."

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – the Department of Health body responsible for regulating sunscreens, as well as food packaging and medication – says it began investigating aerosol sunscreens in May following widespread public concerns.

"TGA undertook preliminary testing to investigate their delivery rates," a spokesperson tells us. "We found the amount of sunscreen delivered per second differed between brands.

"It is important consumers...'apply liberally' to ensure proper coverage of the sunscreen."

Such a class action, if filed, could yield similar results to the law firm's recent case against Nurofen, where a $3.5 million settlement was reached over misleading claims in August.

But the class action against Banana Boat's manufacturer could result in exemplary damages, in addition to refunds. "At this stage, all options are open," says Bannister.

The class action lawsuit is in early stages, but Charles Bannister says it will most likely go ahead.

"I don't see any reason why this class action won't proceed," he tells CHOICE. "I would encourage the makers of Banana Boat to resolve any issues."

Find out which everyday brands outrated the high-end ones in our user trial of face sunscreens and SPF moisturisers.

Sunscreen SPF claims and the category's regulation were called into question earlier this year, as summer neared its end, after photos of people who were burned despite applying sunscreen went viral on social media.

The category has come under continual scrutiny since 2015, after a CHOICE investigation found four out of six sunscreens did not meet advertised SPF50+ claims.

21 November: This article has been updated to include comments from Edgewell Personal Care and the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

15 December: This article has been updated.

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