People who use Jessica Alba’s Honest sunscreen are posting sunburn photos

Jessica Alba

Over the weekend, news broke about how Jessica Alba’s Honest Company sunscreen may not live up to its claims. The product is marketed as an SPF30, and some consumers are complaining that they’re getting burned. They’re posting social media photos, which aren’t pretty. One poor fella received a bright-red noggin (after one hour) as a result. One lady got fried after 40 minutes, which is awful.

A sunburn hurts like crazy and causes lasting damage. This isn’t a case of something inconsequential like ineffective hand sanitizer (although that would bug me immensely) or dish soap. People also rely upon Honest to avoid the chemicals contained in standard-issue sunscreen lotions, so this is a glaring fudge on the company’s part. NBC Chicago conducted an investigation and determined the sunscreen’s formula has changed. The lotion used to contain 20% zinc oxide; now it’s 9.3% zinc oxide, which is a substantial difference.

Alba and Honest were swift to issue a public response in the wake of sunscreen furor.

In a statement to People, the Honest Company says they stand behind the safety and efficacy of the product.

“The Honest Company is committed to providing safe and effective products, and we take all consumer feedback very seriously.

“Our Sunscreen Lotion was tested, by an independent 3rd party, against the protocols prescribed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) monograph for over-the-counter sunscreen products. The results showed that our product is effective and safe for use as an 80 minute water-resistant (FDA’s highest rating), SPF 30 sunscreen lotion in accordance with FDA regulations when used as directed (Shake Well. Apply liberally and evenly 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying and at least every 2 hours).”

“The number of complaints received on our own website about our Sunscreen Lotion constitute less than one half of one percent of all units actually sold at”

[From People]

This statement seems to place blame upon the user, and the company doesn’t sound sympathetic at all. Honest is pretty much saying that some consumers aren’t following instructions, and hey, only a few people are complaining (compared to all the people who purchase diaper wipes and air freshener). The last part makes no sense. Why draw an unflattering (to the consumer) comparison between sunscreen and the other countless products sold by Honest Company? That’s not very Honest.

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet & WENN

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86 Responses to “People who use Jessica Alba’s Honest sunscreen are posting sunburn photos”

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  1. springingforward says:

    one-half of one percent of sales in complaints should be seriously considered. Disappointing how the company responded to concerns; this is an issue of health and safety.

    • FLORC says:

      Considering a huge majority would rather not complain at all. They just don’t buy that product again.

      Their response is 1 big sorry, not sorry

    • annaloo. says:

      Maybe for them, it’s also an issue of legal liability if they apologize in anyway. Regardless, they need to do right by the consumer and recall the product. It’s dangerous to go out without sun protection.

  2. BeBeA says:

    I don’t care if it says honest or god approved, you have to see what works best for your skin. I have finicky skin and I can’t use alot of that stuff even if it say for sensitive skin so I have never tried her stuff and I’m not sure that I would now.

    • Laura says:

      I also have sensitive skin and have to be very careful of what products I use. I was thinking that Honest might be a good brand to look into based on info I’ve heard and their reputation. I haven’t yet because honestly (pun intended) I’ve never been fond of Jessica Alba and didn’t really want to give her any money.

      After this response though I don’t want to support a company that seems like it doesn’t actually care about their customers. For them to try and say it’s the customers faults immediately and not even try to do further tests puts a bad taste in my mouth.

      • vauvert says:

        We use Botanica Alba (no connection to Jessica at all) – a natural product and with good lasting power for a busy, active kid who sweats and swims. Never got burned and he spends a lot of time in the sun and I have serious doubts he reapplies by himself at camp. I think it is an Aussie brand? I buy it at Whole Foods and other natural stores and love it. Generally speaking if a celebrity shills a product, her own or endorsed, that for me is an actual deterrent. I have no idea if Botanica Alba advertises anywhere and I don’t care, we just tried every natural brand available locally and this works best.

      • FLORC says:

        I have used that. It’s good.
        Normally though snip what I need off my aloe plant. It smells like bad beefaroni imo, but the stuff goes on without grease and your skin is instantly softer. and the sun protection is good enough I have yet to burn when appropriately applied. And it costs about a tablesppon of water a day.

      • Bianca says:

        I just use coppertone. Works and inexpensive

    • Crumpet says:

      I have seen skin reactions to ingredients that look just like a sunburn.

    • qwerty says:

      This is not an issue of skin’s reaction to the product though. SPF 30 is SPF 30, regardless of the maker. These people got sunburn, not irritation or allergic reaction.

      • que la says:

        Nope. I used it on my kids and they were burned in about 30 minutes. I went back to using the popular chemical products.

    • Sabrine says:

      I would not use SPF 30 on the beach. For casual use it would be okay but I would use an SPF 50 to 60 at least on the beach. These people got burnt because they are only using SPF 30; they probably aren’t applying enough of it or as often as they should.

      I could never find any sunscreen that didn’t sting and burn my face until I found La Roche-Posay 60 SPF. I love it so much because there is no irritation at all. From the neck down I use cheaper stuff as I don’t have sensitive skin anywhere other than my face.

      • Bianca says:

        It depends on your skin tone and how easily you burn or tan with relation to the spf number. 30 might work for others while it might cause others to burn

    • SW says:

      I use her sunscreen, it works really well I’m me and my kids. Weird.

    • yellow says:

      Aubrey Organics all the way.

  3. Neah23 says:

    I’m not surprised buy the victims-blaming from the Honest Co. I remember when they went after the Mommy Bloger suing her over her Twitter account name Honest Toddler even though the mommy Bloger had been using the name years before the Honest Company.

    • AC says:

      I remember this story too. Between that and the baseless fear mongering that Honest uses to sell their products, I am NOT a fan. I think they’re bullies and Jessica Alba is out to make a buck. Or a billion.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        And she’s probably succeeding. I don’t understand why people buy crap just because a celebrity endorses it, but they do. That’s why I’m not rich. What’s the saying? “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

    • qwerty says:

      Well she did have a reputation of being a mean b!tch when she was an actress, why would that change now that she a boss?

  4. Mimz says:

    Could be a competitor trying to tarnish the company’s image.
    I don’t know, I never used their products, but in any case, their response was not very friendly or nice to their consumers. They could explain methodology to apply the sunscreen, but offer to replace the ones people are concerned about. Maybe it was a bad batch?

    I still root for the company’s success though, there seems to be a lot of positive feedback overall.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      At least in terms of the responses I’ve seen on the Internet in different places this is just a bad product that isn’t working. Lots of photos to go with it and people willing to show and stand by how badly the product worked. Not to mention that re formulation and difference in zinc.

  5. Shitler says:

    I smell lawsuits..

  6. msw says:

    It’s easy to mess up sunscreen. If you don’t apply enough, or don’t apply it early enough, or don’t reapply after sweating or swimming, you have a problem. I don’t have a problem with the statement at all. Anecdotal evidence is not data.

    • Linn says:

      I agree. There are lots of studies that show that most people don’t apply sunscreen the right way.
      And some people (including me) just get sunburned really easily no matter how much/how often/how high a SPF they use.
      If I spent 40 minutes in full midday sun a SPF of 30 would not be enough to protect from getting sunburned no matter what brand I use.

      Maybe there is something wrong with the Sunscreen, but I wouldn’t be so fast to judge.

    • TessD says:

      I was thinking the same however one of the people complaining said he got burnt after one hour of being in the sun. I have a pretty fair skin yet I never get sun burnt that fast after applying a sunscreen! Unless he used some pea sized amount most sunscreens would shield him from the sun. If Honest product can’t even do that there’s no point in using it.

      • Veronica says:

        I don’t find that too surprising if he was out in the midday sun. UV protection is really only functional for about 30 minutes and then it’s a question of how sensitive your own skin is. I have very fair skin and have had my good share of days that end in pink cheeks even with sunscreen on and doing nothing more than spending an hour in the car.

    • pinetree13 says:

      I’m sure this was not people’s first time using sunblock! If they lathered up the same way they did with all their previous sunblocks they should have received the same protection. I read the amazon reviews and I am convinced the product formulation is off.

  7. Freddy Spaghetti says:

    Ugh. Is it so hard to say sorry and offer a refund? I’ve thought about trying Honest cleaners, but not now.

    • FLORC says:

      Considering the cost of the product and there are many other brands that offer the same for less… Yea. You can find better quality and price over Honest Co.

  8. littlemissnaughty says:

    Uh, have they pulled the lotion from their website? I can only find the stick and among other things, it says “Non-whitening, non-nano zinc provides safe sun protection for the whole family” which … I don’t know. Mineral sunscreen always gives that white cast no matter what. And a stick is not optimal, is it? If you go into the sun, you really need to slather it on and that’s not happening with a stick.

    Anyway, I’d be pissed. I’m paranoid about sun protection and always have been. And btw., this whole obsession with “non-chemical” is great but as far as I know, scientists/doctors don’t even agree which is better, chemical or mineral. You need to weigh the pros and cons as with all things skin.

    • H26 says:

      They have been sold out on the website for a good portion of the summer. I got mine at Costco.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        Oh that makes sense. I was just surprised because most websites will still let you view the product even if it’s currently sold out.

    • H26 says:

      That is a change then, I was able to view it and request an email when it came back in stock…..maybe they did pull it. Interesting.

  9. lem says:

    This is the thing– there is NOTHING to show that those people used the sunscreen correctly. The girl looks like the product was only applied to her lower back and completely ignored her shoulders/upper back. I’m not trying to white-knight for honest company (I have never used their products so I don’t care one way or the other) but if sunscreen isn’t used properly, it doesn’t work properly.

    • Neah23 says:

      Their is nothing showing these people used the sunscreen INCORRECTLY.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        This. I do think it’s interesting so many people are blaming consumers when this seems to be wide reaching problem. The product was recently re formulated with less of the ingredient that actually fights UVA/UVB rays and still people are defending a company.

      • Katie says:

        Natural sunscreens are notoriously ineffective unless they contain the proper amount of zinc.

      • notasugarhere says:

        The fact that the product has less than half the zinc it used to have makes me lean towards product failure not consumer error.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        “The fact that the product has less than half the zinc it used to have makes me lean towards product failure not consumer error.”

        My thoughts, too.

      • FLORC says:

        THC (The Honest Co.) has had to clear up why they have changed formulas and contracted factories in China that were linked with sacrificing quality at the comapnies requests. They’re far from honest, but no different than most. Just with better PR and packaging.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I don’t use her products, so I don’t care either, but I did read an article once that said most people use sunscreen incorrectly. The most common mistake is not using enough. I know I’m guilty of that because I don’t like the way it feels if you smear on a thick layer, but that’s really what you’re supposed to do. I obviously have no way of knowing if these people used it correctly or not, but I think a lot of people think they’re doing it right when they’re not.

      • cr says:

        Most people don’t, and don’t understand the SPF, or UVA/UVB rays.
        In this case, I suspect it’s user error, and the user isn’t really aware that they probably didn’t apply the sunscreen properly.
        Could Honest have put out a statement that sounded more sympathetic to those who got burned, while still pointing out the guidelines to using it properly? Yes.

    • Nymeria says:

      Her lower back was covered by her swimsuit. You can see the outline of where her suit was, because it isn’t burned bright red.

  10. Courtney says:

    Hmm … I used it the other day in the mountains and it worked very well. I was out in the sun for hours. Weird.

  11. Cindy says:

    Maybe some of Jessica Alba’s meanness accidentally got into the sunscreen formula?

  12. Kay says:

    Yeah I’ve been using it all summer on myself and my 10 month old and we’ve had no problems. And for what it’s worth, I didn’t read their statement as comparing it to other products. I read it as just the sunscreen units sold. The statement definitely could have been better but in my experience their customer service has always been excellent!

  13. Amy says:

    This sunscreen has worked perfectly on my kiddos on a super hot sunny day at the pool. I don’t know if it’s a fluke.. I did apply it liberally. I love the smell (or lack of chemical smell)… glad I stocked up a little bit if they are pulling it.

  14. Jag says:

    I can’t remember exactly what was said, but some independent reporting found that her company isn’t as green and organic as it professes to be. (And there might have been something about child labor perhaps? I can’t remember.) Because of that, I have vowed never to buy anything from that company.

    The company blaming the consumer is disgusting. 40 minutes is not 80 minutes, Jessica!

  15. H26 says:

    I wonder how much they used. I have used it and not gotten burned and on my kids, too. I read an article about using sunscreen and the MD said to put it in like you are frosting a cupcake. So I put on a fairly good amount of sunscreen.
    I will say that it is not my go to, I like California Baby or Babyganics. Honest is a bit greasy so I use it last and not at the beach. It does say shake on the container but it is a cream in a tube and I’d love to know if anyone else has figured out how to shake something so thick.

  16. kai says:

    It’s still trippy to me that Jessica Alba is an actual, serious business woman now.

  17. Tammy says:

    Most people don’t apply sunscreen properly or often enough. If I don’t have sunscreen on, I burn within 5 to 10 minutes. I used at least 30 SPF and I apply it liberally and I still miss spots. My skin is super sensitive and I am allergic to most sunscreens made……….I still use it. Lastly, sunscreen is not the end all, be all to protect against sun damage. A big hat, umbrella (if you are on the beach), avoiding the sun from 11 am to 2pm (at least), drinking plenty of water, etc.

    I am hesitant to try any sunblock that does not have at least zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in it. The reduction in percentage of zinc oxide concerns me with Honest… I’d be better off making my own at this point.

  18. JB says:

    A friend of mine had a bad experience with this exact stuff a few years ago. She has a significant following on Instagram and after she posted a photo of her kid’s sunburned back Honest Co. sent her a buttload of other products to make up for it. I feel like they have known there are problems for a while, maybe it varies from batch to batch.

  19. Mel M says:

    Hmmm, I’ve been using it all summer as well with no problems and have been out in the sun for hours at a time. Maybe there is a descrepency in some bottles?

  20. Chinoiserie says:

    Does anyone else think that Jessica does not seem age at all?

  21. Samtha says:

    I’ve been using this on myself and my kids all summer, for pool parties, long hikes and tennis matches–in other words, hours in the sun. No problems whatsoever.

  22. Cee says:

    I don’t know much about the ingredients needed, and their %, for an effective sun screen but it seems that SPF30 is no longer enough protection. I usually apply SPF100, and I still need to reapply it every hour, depending on the time of day I’m exposed to the sun. I used SPF50 while in Madrid a month ago and I burned so badly I had to bathe myself in aloe vera.

    However, the company’s response is ridiculous. It would be better to say “hey, this is how sun screen is applied and we followed the FDA’s and health practices when creating our Honest sun screen, and we’re sorry the experience hasn’t been a good one for everyone. We take this very seriously and are grateful it has been brought to our attention” except of “YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO APPLY SUN SCREEN, NOT MY FAULT”.

    • sarah says:

      SPF literally means nothing anymore. It’s all about the ingredients used to make the sunscreen. Also many peope don’t know the extreme difference between “sunscreen/lotion” and “sunblock”. Sunscreen is absorbed through the skin, sunblock is a physical blocker (think, thick white goop lifeguards used to use). Sunscreen has many fumes/chemicals in it. Sunblocks main ingredient is the mineral zinc-oxide. The annoying thing is, zinc sunblock is expensive and doesn’t rub in too well (it’s not meant to), but if it means I’m at a less risk to cancer, sunburn, can’t put a price on that!

  23. Micki says:

    Two photos are not exactly evidence, I’m sorry.
    Noone knows how sensitiveis the skin of both persons is. Noone knows how and how much lotion they’ve applied. And I didn’t get at what time they were exposed. At 14.00 even SPF 50 won’t be enough.
    I myself don’t care for Alba’s company but what possible “compassion” is it supposed to show for not investigated complaints?

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Two photos listed on this site, thousands shown in various places all over the Internet. Not to mention the bad reviews with no pictures but claiming the same damage.

      • Micki says:

        My questions still remain the same. Thousands have got burns-it HAS to be proved HOW exactly. Probably tests must be remade. IF they are made according to requirements and meet them then the blame must be sought somewhere else.
        I am sure you’ll find thousands, who don’t use L’Oreal or Wella or (….insert name…) and who’ve written negative reviews and still their number might be under 5% of the general users.
        Panacea-products do not exist.

  24. Jinx says:

    Not being bitchy here, just real: I have very sensitive skin which means I can’t use Honest Company sunscreen. I’m allergic to anything in the sunflower (helianthus) family. In fact, the best products for me are those that use only synthetic ingredients! As soon as I see ‘organic’ on the label, I know there’s a 95% chance there will be at least one ingredient I can’t tolerate.
    AM I THE ONLY ONE? Feeling lonely and weird. IS THERE ANYONE ELSE OUT THERE like me?

    • kai says:

      I have a friend who has a lot of allergies and for a while, when ‘natural’ skincare etc became the big trend, she was known to go off on angry, defensive rants. You’re not alone!

    • babyb says:

      hey jinx,
      you’re not alone. I have lupus so my skin is beyond sensitive and inflamed a lot. even though I avoid direct sun exposure -no beach for me 🙁 -i use spf every day without any scent and flower or plant ingredients. it goes for all skin products.

  25. sarah says:

    Umm Zinc is the ONLY ingredient that matters in sunscreen! Weird Honests new recipe has less than before. I also have sensitive skin and have had good results this summer using mineral sunblock which has like 50% zinc oxide. Lol.. not a tiny 9% No wonder people are burning to a crisp

  26. MoeC23 says:

    Wasn’t there an issue not long ago about their diapers or wipes?

  27. Bleu-moon says:

    I’m pretty fanatical about sunscreen and reapply frequently. I bought the Honest Company sunscreen at Costco this summer. It works okay for being outdoors in partial shade and when fully clothed. I used it hiking, at BBQs and festivals without a problem. It was terrible at the pool and I didn’t go swimming! My first sunburn in more than a decade and I burned in less than an hour. It’s just not strong enough for intense sun and heat. I wouldn’t trust it at a beach or on active kids who will be in and out of the pool.

  28. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    Bad responses to customer problems will sink a company EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

    This isn’t the first time her company has had issues. It’s also interesting that to make things more organic they ended up reducing the amount of actual zinc oxide (you know the stuff actually keeping you from being hurt) from 20% to 9% as well as the fact the instructions they gave consumers and the instructions listed on the bottle are different leaving a 40 minute window where you could be burned.

    I appreciate the thought but when it comes to ‘organic’ products that are good for the environment I’m not really going to trust a Hollywood mom who flopped at acting.

  29. punky brewster says:

    maybe it’s just me, but lately i have been getting sunburned even with SPF (something that NEVER happened before). is it possible to build a tolerance to sunscreen? or maybe it’s due to spending less time in the sun than i used to? or does our skin get more sensitive as we get older? i’m not taking any medication that would make me burn. just a random thought.

    • Veronica says:

      Your skin does get more sensitive with age, though it generally is the worst for people under age 6 and over 60. It could be deterioration of the product – do you live in an area with high temps and variable weather? That could be deactivating the ingredients. Make sure you’re also applying a good amount, too, and give it about twenty minutes to absorb before going outside.

      (You could also try switching from chemical to physical blocks. Physical sunscreen uses titanium and zinc as its primary ingredients, but it takes much longer to absorb and may leave a chalky residue.)

  30. Egghead says:

    I thought the part in the statement that talked about the complaints on the website meant that out of all the SUNSCREEN units sold through the website, they had received complaints from less than .5% of the people who bought those sunscreen units. I didn’t think they were referring to any other products or complaints received on those products in that part of the statement. I could be wrong, but that’s how I read it.

  31. Tracy says:

    A very poor media relations response. One never blames the complainant. I’m also shocked that the supposedly chemical-free Honest Company products…aren’t. Even their vitamins and supplements aren’t actually organic. No excuse for that. ( I love the Nova Scotia Organics stuff. Totally USDA Certified Organic vitamins, supplements, Berry smoothies, snacks, etc.)

  32. Miss Kitty says:

    I have been a bundle subscriber with Honest for almost two years. Some of their products are outstanding and worth every penny with no competition, and some of them are average or worse than average and you couldn’t pay me to use, but the customer service is the most godawful mess I have encountered – and I am including tech support for Windows. Finding products that work for skin and hair is very personal, and user error is very likely a factor when it comes to sunscreen. The issue for me is that once again Honest is being petty, bitchy, justifying, and self-righteous when it would have helped their brand to actually just fake some sympathy and support for their customers. Not a great choice.

  33. ya says:

    You basically need to look at the percentage of zinc oxide for mineral sunscreens – I use one with 20% zinc oxide regularly. 9.8% or whatever is decent but ya, some people could burn with the lower percentage. Though some people burn with any sun exposure no matter the sunscreen, and of course, you have to apply a ton.

  34. stephanie says:

    She’s a smoker who developed “natural, additive-free” products. Really, Jessica? I haven’t tried her products given that hypocrisy. In my experience as a constant user of sunscreen (lupus), I’ve never had a sunscreen give out after 30 minutes. Ever.

  35. Gippy says:

    I bought my Honest sunscreen at Costco earlier this summer. Both times I’ve used it I’ve burned! My fiancé used our normal spray sunscreen and was fine times. I applied before going outside and we’re only outside for about 90 mins each time – correct usage. I’ve since switched back.

  36. Veronica says:

    Jessica Alba comes across as kind of jerk in her interviews, but honestly, people can be really uninformed about how sunscreen works. Even SPF50 will only protect you for about 20-30 minutes in direct sun exposure, and it’s more effective if it’s titanium based rather than organic. (My bet would be that it’s organic because the metallics don’t absorb as well and look chalky.). Creams are more effective than sprays, though the latter is generally fine if it’s rubbed in. You also need a substantial amount for true protection, which is more than the thin layer most people apply provides (and why SPF in makeup is useless). Being outside between 11am-1pm makes sunscreen moot since it’s the most intense UV exposure of the day. I’m very fair skinned, and even with sunscreen on, I’ve wound up burned after less than an hour outside.

    So some of this is likely ignorance of the general populace in regards to how this stuff works, but if the company is making claims that extend beyond the limitations of the product, they’re in the wrong, too. And needless to say, condescending to your username is just stupid.

  37. misty says:

    i like most of their products but am not a fan of the sunscreen. it’s really greasy and my kiddos still got burnt cheeks. we moved to garden goddess and are much happier.

  38. Anon says:

    It’s starting to get a K vibe to’s a projected billion dollar company NOT a billion dollar company. Very misleading. A major PR push on everything but the year end sales don’t tally.Trying to hard and not being real real but claiming to be.Forbes can’t even agree with each other as they write this stuff.

  39. JuJuBee says:

    I just returned two bottles of the Honest Sunscreen to Costco. It smelled rancid and was disgustingly greasy. I have been using natural products for years and this sunscreen was a big NO!

  40. Elosaurus says:

    On one hand I like that she is interested in less chemically potent products. However, I still think she is not educated enough (or at all) when it comes to the effects different elements and their compounds have on a human body. She has people who do that work for her and she just nods or shakes her head at meetings … basically she is the face of the company and that is all. And that apology did not sound like an apology at all -_-

  41. siri says:

    I know plenty of people who do not use sunscreen correctly. Proper and repeated liberal application is crucial. On a beach, sitting or laying around, and perhaps swimming in between, an SPF30 isn’t good enough anyway, surely not for fair-skinned people (most blonds and redheads). The other thing is, that zinc oxide is considered a nanoparticle, and quite a few concerned people don’t want those in their creams/lotions. So perhaps the re-formulation had to do with using bigger particles (non-nano particles), and therefore less zinc oxide in total. However, I hope they take those complaints serious, and answer them personally, not just with an official statement. Because one can’t just assume the customer doesn’t use it properly. And I also hope they check their formula again. I like Badger Balm Unscented SPF30 for normal days out, it only has five ingredients, and is one of the most natural I could find. For more protection, La Roche Posay Anthelios (expensive), which comes with SPF 40, 50, or 60.

  42. belacqua says:

    I use the honest sunscreen, the directions are clear and if you follow them correctly you won’t burn, I have very pale skin that is prone to burning. I do find it too greasy though but I’d rather use a natural product. I have also used a popular name brand sunscreen before I did not use it correctly by shaking the bottle and me and my husband ended up with severe blistering burns and and almost ruined vacation. So it is important to follow instructions and reapply, I think the people misused the product because it is natural it tends to separate more and were burned as a result.