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Pregnant Mum Claims Popular Sunscreen Left Her Family 'In Agony'

Gemma Huggins was horrified to see her children's skin blistered and burnt, even after applying a sunscreen sold in the supermarket.

The Melbourne mum-of-four told 10 daily that she feels "angry and upset" that she and her young daughters experienced painful sunburns, despite applying Banana Boat sunscreen spray.

Huggins, from Victorian suburb Syke, took her four children to the beach one morning on a 30 degree day.

The mother claims that she applied a supermarket brand sunscreen to her two sons, and Banana Boat Kids’ SPF 50 sunscreen to herself and her daughters.

"Just two hours later, the girls and I were burnt and red raw," Huggins said, while her sons appeared fine.

According to Huggins, the sunscreen was applied at 10am, and her family left the beach before 12:30pm.

"I’m always vigilant about applying sunscreen, and we weren’t even out for more than two hours," she said. 

Millah (8) and Remi (5) after they were burnt. Image: Supplied

The following day, Huggins said: "The girls were in agony." 

"Millah (eight) had blisters across the lower part of her back with fluid in them, and Remi (five) was bright red and burning for about four days."

The pregnant mother also experienced immense pain. She described the sun-damaged skin on her breast like "an old leather boot – it’s all dry and crusty."

It started bubbling and blistering on my chest. The skin came off -- it was red raw underneath and I couldn’t stand any fabric on it, so I couldn’t even wear a bra.

Huggins told 10 daily she has reached out to Banana Boat to tell them their application instructions are "deceiving."

"The messaging on the spray can is really deceiving because on the front it says ‘water resistant for four hours’, but on the back it says ‘re-apply every two hours’."

"It’s all dry and crusty." Image: Supplied

10 daily reached out to Banana Boat for comment and were told they were "very sorry to hear about this family’s experience."

According to their statement, the brand wants to reassure their customers "that they can feel confident using our products for safe and effective sun protection, when used according to their label instructions."

"All Banana Boat sunscreen products undergo rigorous testing and all Banana Boat products meet the high Australian standards administered by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA), which are some of the strictest in the world," their statement continued.

"While some of our products offer four hours of water resistance, it’s important people understand that when they go swimming, towel dry their skin or perspire, they can rub off some of their sunscreen, which impacts its ability to protect them from the sun."

Banana Boat stated this is why they recommend everyone reapplies at least every two hours and after swimming, excessive perspiration or towel drying.

Gemma Huggins and her four young children. Image: Supplied

Huggins told 10 daily she will not be purchasing the product again.

I’ve read some terrible stuff about it since using it and wouldn’t have bought it had I known before.

In 2017, Australian law firm Bannister Law were considering launching a class action against Banana Boat after a number of angry consumers claimed they were sunburned despite applying the brand's aerosol product range.

According to the ABC, Bannister Law stated that they tested seven products in the brand's aerosol range, and found that all seven fell short of their marketed SPF 50+ rating.

Banana Boat categorically refuted these claims.

The product listing on Banana Boat's website. Image: Banana Boat

In August 2018, Bannister Law withdrew its proposed class action.

A spokesperson from Edgewell Personal Care, the manufacturer of Banana Boat sunscreen, said in a statement that they were "pleased" to see the proposed action dropped.

"Consumers have been subjected to a number of false and misleading reports in recent times that have been based on unreliable sources," the manufacturer said at the time.

Natural skincare company, and Banana Boat competitor, MooGoo reached out to 10 daily to state that they are calling on the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to make it mandatory for all ingredients listed in sunscreens to be clearly visible on the labels.

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Many Australians are reluctant to use sunscreen, even though it’s an important element in preventing the skin cancers that affect about two in three of us at some time in our lives.

According to MooGoo founder Craig Jones, Australia needs to follow in the US and UK's footsteps by disclosing all ingredients on a product's label.

"For the protection of consumers, it is time all ingredients were shown on sunscreen so that people can choose sunscreens that have ingredients they want to put on their skin,” Jones said.

Gemma Huggins said that after her own experience with the product, and after watching her young children in so much pain they couldn't sleep, she "certainly won’t be using Banana Boat again."

It’s not worth the risk.

According to the Cancer Council, one in eight adults and one in five teenagers are sunburned on an average summer weekend. Approximately, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

Featured image: Supplied