Jessica Alba’s company has all the ingredients for a flawless marketing strategy; from a celebrity co-founder, and often the face of the brand, to the perfect name. Yet the Honest Company proves time and time again that the name is more ironic than an accurate depiction of the brand itself. A Wall Street Journal investigative report found that the company has an extra ingredient in it’s detergent – one it guarantees to avoid on it’s website, in an effort to provide safe and eco-friendly products, unlike it’s competitors – the “harsh” (as the company describes it) component is SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate).
The booming startup has made quite an impact on the industry, with a $1.7 billion private valuation in less than four years, it challenges competitors like Procter & Gamble Co. with its unique caring message. Honest’s ecologic concern and natural, safe ingredients are a huge part of the brand’s success with consumers. But is “honest” actually keeping it’s promise?
According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s not…and this is not the first instance of the company’s products promising one thing, but providing another. Just last year the co. was slammed with lawsuits for their sunscreen that failed to protect users from harsh rays, and for marketing products as natural when they contained chemical ingredients. And here we are, a year later, with similar allegations. This time around it’s the brand’s detergent that’s under scrutiny. Two independent tests by the Journal determined that there is in fact SLS in the product, making both the name and mission of the brand, a sham.
“Our findings support that there is a significant amount of sodium lauryl sulfate” in Honest’s detergent, said Barbara Pavan, a chemist at one of the labs, Impact Analytical. Another lab, Chemir, a division of EAG Inc., said its test for SLS found about the same concentration as Tide, which is made by P&G. “It was not a trace amount,” said Matthew Hynes, a chemist at Chemir who conducted the test.
Honest’s reply? The company and Alba claim that the Journal was reckless with the article and it’s accusations:
“At The Honest Company, our mission is to develop safe and effective products for our families to use and for families everywhere to feel great about. Despite providing The Wall Street Journal with substantial evidence to the contrary, they falsely claimed our laundry detergent contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). To set the record straight, we use Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS) in our brand’s laundry detergent because it is a gentler alternative that is less irritating and safer to use.”
The Wall Street Journal stands behind it’s reporting and testing. It would be one thing if this was a one time occurrence, but the Honest Company’s less than honest record is making believing it’s message very difficult.