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Honestly, Honest Company?


Photo: The Honest Company
Photo: The Honest Company

It may be time for Jessica Alba to start rethinking the name of her company.

The Honest Company is under fire for using sodium lauryl sulfate—an ingredient Alba’s brand specifically promises not to use—in its detergent, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation.

Although sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is found in many mainstream household cleaning products, shampoos, and toothpastes, it is known to cause skin and eye irritation, WSJ reports. Honest took a stand against the ingredient by pledging to not use any SLS in its green, eco-friendly products.

In fact, the brand’s labels indicate that its detergent is “honestly free of” SLS, but the WSJ investigation, citing two independent lab tests, indicates otherwise. And we’re not talking trace amounts of the chemical in the product: “Our findings support that there is a significant amount of sodium lauryl sulfate,” Barbara Pavan, a chemist from Impact Analytical, told the newspaper.

Honest stands by its policy, though.”We do not make our products with sodium lauryl sulfate,” Kevin Ewell, Honest’s research and development manager, told the WSJ. The company that manufactures Honest Co.’s detergent, Earth Friendly Products LLC, says it relies on its chemical supplier, Trichromatic West Inc., to test and certify that there was no SLS. (And Trichromatic West says it did not add SLS to the material it provided to Earth Friendly Products.)

While fingers point, the bigger question is whether this is a case of greenwashing at its ickiest.

By now, Alba’s company (valued at $1.7 billion) is no stranger to lawsuits. Last year, the brand was sued based on claims that its sunscreen did not work (those pictures of sunburned toddlers will haunt your dreams), as well as two separate class action lawsuits alleging deceptive labeling and misleading advertising.

What’s next for the fast-growing but always-under-fire company? We’re honestly not sure.

Okay, so knowledge is power: Here’s some expert advice on choosing the purest, best facial oil, and (read it once, read it twice) here’s our guide to deciphering beauty labels.