Coppertone Agrees to Stop Calling Its Sunscreens "Waterproof" and "Sweatproof"

Merck & Co. bought Schering-Plough in 2009 and with it inherited the popular Coppertone brand, which is easily the most used sunscreen brand in my household and I'm sure many others.

Back in 2003, lawsuits were filed against Schering-Plough alleging improper marketing of the "waterproof" aspects of Coppertone. On September 21, 2012, Merck agreed to settle these class-action lawsuits without admitting any wrongdoing.  The settlement will cost Merck between $3 million and $10 million, which is about two one-hundreths of a percent of Merck's annual revenue.

According to the settlement, "Merck agrees that all Coppertone sunscreen products manufactured on or after June 22, 2012 for sale in the United States, its territories and possessions, will not use the terms "sunblock," "waterproof," "sweatproof," "all day" and/or "all day protection" in the labeling, advertising, marketing or promotion of these products."

This will have absolutely no impact on my own use of sunscreen as I'm not stupid enough to think that one application of sunscreen will last an entire day if I'm out running, sweating or in the pool all day. But I guess some might be confused by the prominently mentioned "Sweatproof" and "Waterproof" on the front of the label.

It is a bit odd that on the front label Coppertone says "Waterproof" yet on the back label says "Reapply as needed or after towel drying, swimming, perspiring, or vigorous activity."

If you purchased Coppertone products from July 31, 2006 to the date of public notice of the settlement, you can receive "up to $1.50" for each item purchased. They do not define what "up to" means but we'll find out soon enough.

The exact date yet of when we can start making claims has not been announced. When that date comes, the information will be published at, to inform us of our rights, dates and deadlines, etc. Yippee!

The proposed settlement indicates claimants can be reimbursed up to $1.50 each for up to six (6) Eligible Coppertone Sunscreen Products without proof of purchase. Easy enough! But it gets trickier after that, as Merck has the right to require proof of purchase if you claim between 7 and 9 Coppertone purchases. If you bought 10 or more, you will be required to show proof of you're gonna have all those CVS and Costco store receipts from 6 years ago.

I was thinking, what if I could produce receipts for, say, 700,000 purchases of Coppertone products since July 31, 2006. I could make over a $1 million! Hmm, maybe I should just stay out of the sun.

In any case, start pondering how many Coppertone sunscreen products you've purchased over the last 6 years and you may get a small chunk o' change. And, of course, apply plenty of broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen in our sunny climate and reapply frequently. Sunburns and skin cancer are not fun.