A proposed class action alleges Crown Laboratories has misleadingly labeled its Blue Lizard-brand sunscreen as “mineral-based” even though the product contains “less desirable, harmful, chemical-based active ingredients.”
The 18-page case, filed in California, alleges the following Blue Lizard “mineral-based” sunscreens contain either of the active chemical ingredients octisalate 5%, an organic compound formed by condensing salicylic acid with 2-ethylhexanol, or octinoxate 5.5%, an organic compound formed from methoxycinnamic acid and 2-ethylhexanol:
Kids Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 30+ (5 oz Bottle);
Kids Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 30+ (8.75 oz Bottle);
Kids Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (5 oz Tube);
Kids Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (8.75 oz Bottle);
Face Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 30+ (3 oz Tube);
Active Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (5 oz Tube);
Active Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (8.75 oz Bottle);
Sport Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (5 oz Bottle); and
Sport Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (8.75 oz Bottle).
Purportedly mineral-based sunscreen products have grown in popularity in recent years as consumers have “prioritized safety and embraced a healthy lifestyle” while at the same time becoming more educated about the potentially harmful human and environmental effects of using chemical-based sunscreens, the lawsuit begins. With the products’ rise in popularity has come a corresponding increase in price over chemical sunscreens, the suit says.
According to the complaint, “reasonable consumers” interpret the term “mineral-based” to mean that a product is free of active chemical ingredients, in line with how buyers might understand that a product labeled as “plant-based” contains no meat. The suit argues that “mineral-based” products should thus be as they’re labeled, “a sunscreen that uses minerals as active ingredients.”
“The Products, however, also contain chemical active ingredients,” the case says. “Thus, Defendant’s mineral-based representations are false, misleading, and reasonably likely to deceive consumers. As a result, consumers—including Plaintiff and putative Class members—have been injured by their purchases of the products.”
Per the case, the active chemical ingredients octisalate and octinoxate protect the skin by absorbing ultraviolet radiation and dissipating it as heat. Mineral-based sunscreens, on the other hand, use mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as a physical barrier that covers the skin and deflects and scatters UV radiation, the suit says.
The lawsuit alleges the Blue Lizard maker, as a way to “obtain an unfair competitive advantage” in the sunscreen market, has prominently labeled its products as “mineral-based” even though consumers understand the description to mean the sunscreens contain no chemical ingredients. The complaint stresses that even if consumers were required to read a product’s back-panel ingredients list to decipher what the sunscreen contained, “reasonable consumers do not possess the knowledge of chemists and scientists such that they cannot discern and [sic] the point of sale whether the listed ingredients are minerals or chemicals.”
“As it pertains to Defendant’s Products, it is not common knowledge that Octisalate and Octinoxate are chemicals and not minerals,” the suit says, contending that consumers’ confusion is increased given the Blue Lizard sunscreens also contain the active mineral ingredients titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.
According to the complaint, “[t]rue mineral-based sunscreens” generally contain a significantly higher percentage of active mineral ingredients, often in the 20 to 24 percent range.
The case looks to represent consumers in California who, within the applicable statute of limitations period until the date notice is disseminated to the proposed class, bought any of the above-listed Blue Lizard sunscreens.
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