Family left with serious burns after using sunscreen

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

The long-awaited holiday of a Sydney family was cut short this week after one day at the beach left them blistered and burnt due to what they believe was a faulty bottle of Woolworths sunscreen.

The 10-year-old's face was still burned four days after (left) and her mum's legs were swollen (right). Source: Supplied
The 10-year-old's face was still burnt four days after (left) and her mum's legs were swollen (right). Source: Supplied

A nurse, her two daughters and their children began their holiday in Coffs Harbour on January 10, where they were planning to stay for a 10-day period.

On their second day away, they spent just over four hours in the sun at the beach, where they reapplied the Woolworths branded 50+ sunscreen every hour, and took shelter in their shade tent.

After arriving back at their accommodation however, each of them were covered in serious sunburn, including the nurse’s three-year-old and 10-year-old grandchildren.

The severity of the burns left them in too much pain to return to the beach or take part in any other holiday activities, so the group returned to Sydney just four days into their holiday.

The grandma claimed cutting the trip short cost them a total of $1800 due to costs associated with their accommodation, fuel and food.

“That’s 13 months of saving, not having a holiday for 13 months and working as a nurse during Covid. I was looking forward to a family holiday, only for it to be ruined by this product,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

“The children upset ... extremely upset. It's been a dreadful year for everybody due to Covid and the restrictions, we finally got a beach holiday as a family and on day one it was ruined due to sunburn from a product that was misleading.

The backs of the women's legs were left a bright red after the day at the beach. Source: Supplied
The backs of the women's legs were bright red after the day at the beach. Source: Supplied

“My grandchildren know the rules about wearing hats in the sun, and because I am a nurse, skin cancers are on my mind all the time.”

Her daughter said seeing her three-year-old experience so much pain “made me feel like s***”.

“I’ve never seen her in that much pain before. Every time I had to change her, she would cry or say ouch,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

“I felt horrible because I put that sunscreen on her thinking it would keep her from getting burnt,” she said.

“I felt sick to my stomach. She didn’t want to do anything. It was hard for her to walk at times because it was painful. I had to carry her sometimes.”

The sunscreen was supposedly water resistant for four hours. Source: Supplied
The sunscreen was supposedly water resistant for four hours. Source: Supplied

An isolated complaint, says Woolworths

The sunscreen, advertised to provide “very high protection” and be water resistant for four hours, was well within its November 2023 “use by” date.

The family said they were unimpressed with Woolworths’ response when they raised the issue, saying they were offered a refund on the product if they could return it with a receipt.

The sunscreen had been purchased weeks before the holiday and the receipt was long gone.

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia they were aware of the incident which they believed to be an isolated complaint.

“All Woolworths branded sunscreens meet Australia’s regulatory standards, which are some of the strictest in the world.

“We understand the importance of sun safety and take the responsibility to offer reliable and effective products very seriously.

“This appears to be an isolated complaint and we’re currently in contact with the customer to get more information.

“Customers should always follow the on-pack instructions to ensure they apply, and reapply sunscreen correctly for maximum protection.”

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