Jessica Alba's Honest Company Maybe Not So Honest

Detergent found to contain ingredient Honest said it didn't use
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2016 10:51 AM CST
Jessica Alba's Honest Company Maybe Not So Honest
Jessica Alba poses before the presentation of Christian Dior's fall-winter 2016-2017 ready to wear fashion collection presented, Friday, March 4, 2016 in Paris.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Perhaps Jessica Alba should change the name of her business to the Not-So-Honest Company? As the Wall Street Journal reports, the Honest Company purports to sell cleaning supplies and other products that don't contain the "toxic" chemicals that more mainstream products do. One such ingredient: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is in many household products including detergent, and which Honest says can irritate skin. On the "Honestly free of" label found on bottles of Honest's laundry detergent, SLS is listed as one of the chemicals not included. Except ... it is included, the Journal reports. The detergent contains "a significant amount" of SLS, in fact, according to a chemist at one of two independent labs. The other lab says it found "not a trace amount" of SLS, but about as much of the ingredient as is found in Tide.

Honest insists SLS is not included in its products, and says it has done its own testing to confirm that; Honest partners with manufacturers and suppliers, but says their products would contain, at most, only "possible trace amounts" of SLS. The company has a document from its detergent manufacturer stating "zero" SLS content, which the detergent manufacturer got from its own chemical supplier. But the Journal contacted that chemical supplier and was told the certificate only means no SLS was added; it did not actually do any testing on the product. Honest claims to use sodium coco sulfate (SCS) instead of SLS in its products, but the Journal talked to more than a dozen scientists who all said SCS is just a mixture of cleaning agents that contains "a significant amount" of SLS itself. Honest denies that, too, but it made significant changes to the wording of its "Honestly Free Guarantee" and other website descriptors while the Journal was working on the piece, which you can read in full here. (The Honest Company's sunscreen has also come under fire.)

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