Allegations Banana Boat sunscreen causes burns continue to pour in to Health Canada

Since May, Health Canada has received 187 complaints about Banana Boat sunscreen, many involving claims it led to burned or blistered skin. The agency has tested the product and is waiting for results.

187 complaints received in 2 months; agency expects its test results in coming weeks

Shayna Pickle in Bracebridge, Ont., says her five-year-old son got badly burned after wearing Banana Boat sunscreen. (Shayna Pickle/Facebook)

Shayna Pickle says her five-year-old son got badly burned this month after wearing Banana Boat sunscreen.

The Bracebridge, Ont., woman blames the sunscreen, so she posted photos on Facebook along with a warning about the brand. 

"It's heartbreaking," she says about the burns on her son's shoulders and arms which eventually turned into blisters. "It was like an open wound because the blister[s] had popped and you could see that the skin was torn." Pickle requested that her son's name not be published.

She joins many Canadian parents who allege that Banana Boat sunscreen lotion or spray somehow burned their children's skin.

Complaints about the sunscreen include an allegation that it caused 14-month-old Kyla Cannon in Botwood, N.L., to develop a facial burn. (Rebecca Cannon/Facebook)

Health Canada says that since May 11, it has received 187 complaints about Banana Boat sunscreen products. Ninety-six of the cases detail burns or blister-related reactions, and more than half of the alleged victims in those cases were children or adolescents. 

The agency began investigating the sunscreen in May after at least two mothers claimed that the product badly burned their babies' skin.

Banana Boat Canada says rigorous testing of its sunscreen has shown that it's safe and can't cause chemical burns.

Health Canada says it has reviewed Banana Boat's test results and found no concerns. The agency has also conducted its own tests on the sunscreen and expects to have the results in the coming weeks.

Health Canada will take "enforcement action, as appropriate, should any non-compliance or risk to health be identified," said spokesperson Rebecca Purdy in an email to CBC News.

But some concerned parents want action now.

'I was in tears'

"I feel like it should be off the shelves immediately," says Pickle. "There's got to be something in their product."

Her saga began during the Canada Day long weekend when her son spent the day outside with his father.

Pickle says although her ex-husband diligently applied Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 spray to their son's skin, it didn't seem to be working.

"He was just getting redder and redder."

'My heart just broke,' says Pickle, when she saw her son's blisters that she claims were caused by Banana Boat sunscreen. (Shayna Pickle/Facebook)

By the time Pickle saw her son, his skin had blistered.

"My heart just broke as soon as I saw it. I was in tears, it looked so painful," Pickle said, adding her son's skin is only clearing up now. "Obviously there's something wrong with Banana Boat. They need to change it."

Patrizia Fitch of Victoria, B.C., agrees.

She says she made sure her 12-year-old son Daniel put on sunscreen for a recent field trip. Although he applied the product several times that day, his skin turned bright red and blistered.

"He can't put on a shirt. When he was sleeping, he was sleeping sitting because he couldn't have anything touching him," Fitch told CBC News this month.

Banana Boat says test results show its product is safe for use. (Patrizia Fitch)

Like Pickle, Fitch is warning other parents and wants Banana Boat sunscreen pulled from store shelves.

"People are putting this on to protect their kids, and then they end up burning their children," she said.

Banana Boat is owned by U.S.-based Edgewell Personal Care. Since the allegations about the brand began in May, the company has adamantly denied there's anything wrong with its sunscreen products.

It says a bad skin reaction such as blisters may be caused by a sensitivity to an ingredient in the sunscreen that can be triggered or exacerbated by sun exposure.

Banana Boat suggests people test the product before using it if they have concerns. 

But for some concerned parents, that's not good enough. "You want to trust what you're buying off the shelves [will] protect your children from burns," says Pickle.


Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Based in Toronto, Sophia Harris covers consumer and business for CBC News web, radio and TV. She previously worked as a CBC videojournalist in the Maritimes where she won an Atlantic Journalism Award for her work. Contact:


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?