Sunscreen is a cream you apply topically — it isn’t meant to be digested. However, a newly-failed product tried to get consumers to think otherwise. In a decision announced last month, two Colorado companies, Osmosis Skincare LLC and Harmonized Water LLC were forced to pay a $70,000 settlement for deceiving customers into believing that drinkable sunscreen could protect their skin from ultraviolet light. Some of the fines will go to consumer refunds and Iowa’s consumer education and litigation fund.
In a press release, Osmosis claims that in a clinical trial, 66 percent of participants didn’t experience sunburn after drinking Osmosis Harmonized Water UV Neutralizer, which alleged to contain “radio frequencies called scalar waves” that “vibrate above the skin to neutralize UVA and UVB, creating protection comparable to an SPF 30.” In a lawsuit filed by Iowa attorney general Tom Miller, this kind of advertising “recklessly gave consumers hollow assurances that they were protected from known health hazards.”
Harmonized Water typically sold for $30 a bottle and listed water as the sole ingredient. Benjamin Taylor Johnson, MD, the owner of both companies, was on a quest to sell an entire line of medicinal drinking waters, including water that prevents mosquito bites, water that “cancels” pathogens and “bad memories,” and a water that relieved the liver of sugars.
According to Miller, none of these product descriptions are based on accurate evidence. Johnson had also solicited testimonials from distributors who had financial ties to his companies. “Testimonials can be extremely persuasive, since consumers are being told that someone just like them had gotten great results from using the product,” Miller said in a statement. “But not disclosing an endorser’s special connections to the product is deceptive, which is why the Federal Trade Commission has developed a set of guidelines for testimonials – guidelines that these defendants are now required to follow here in Iowa.”