The Honest Company’s Honesty Is Challenged Again With Another Lawsuit Claiming Misleading Advertising

Becky Padilla - Author

Apr. 1 2016, Updated 8:14 a.m. ET

The Honest Company, started by Jessica Alba in 2012, is facing its fourth class action lawsuit claiming false advertising. The latest suit alleges their products contain an ingredient that is not all “natural” like the company advertises.

Paved with “good intentions”

The Honest Company was established just after Alba’s first child, her daughter Honor, was born. The company launched in January of 2012 after months of hard work, research, and dreaming. Alba declared in her blog post with the Huffington Post that the goal of the company was to be honest, transparent, and safe. She wanted the company to continue to grow with their “strong foundation of good intentions to help ‘change the world.'”

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The whole reason The Honest Company was created was because there was no one resource where safe, effective products that would help new parents (and all of us) could be purchased. Now there is. From the products themselves to the packaging of the products, all pieces were tested and created to be safe, as well as environmentally and skin friendly.

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However, some users have experienced adverse reactions after using The Honest Company’s products. There is a quote sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln that says, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” There are shady people out there, and there are shady companies. But the truth eventually comes out. It begs the question why anybody would try to be deceitful to begin with. Maybe Bernie Madoff could answer that. However, there are also hundreds of different skin types and allergies out there. No one product will suffice for every person’s needs, but most people understand this when they try something new, or find something that has been proven to work for them.

Easy target?

But now, yet another lawsuit is in the works against The Honest Company. The fourth one in the last year, Inc. reported that a lady from Illinois filed a class-action lawsuit earlier this month alleging misleading advertising. She says a component called sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS — known to be a toxin and something that could irritate skin and cause health problems, and that The Honest Company swears is not present in any of their products — was actually present in the products she purchased.

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The Honest Company says they use sodium coco sulfate (SCS) which has a coconut oil base and is less harsh than SLS. An investigation done by the Wall Street Journal found that even SCS has significant levels of SLS in it. However, Honest maintains they only use natural ingredients in their products and told Inc. that “The claims alleged in the lawsuit are without merit and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against them.”

In February, a Manhattan couple sued the company for the same reason, claiming the company had fraudulently labeled the ingredients in 41 of their products, Reuters reported. And last September, two class-action lawsuits were filed claiming the company was misleading in its marketing of its products being “natural.” One suit specifically named the sunscreen and said it had not worked as promised.

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But Alba said, “We strongly stand behind our products and the responsibility we have to our consumers. We are steadfast in our commitment to transparency and openness.” And she shared how rigorous a testing the sunscreen, in particular, had undergone. Did the accusers filing lawsuits asking for $5 million in damages — far more than any purchase of The Honest Company’s products could have cost them — use the products correctly? Any sunscreen used by any consumer will fail if it’s washed off or not reapplied after so many hours. Any product, in general, will not work as promised if not used correctly.

The outcome of the most recent lawsuit against The Honest Company remains to be seen as it could take up to a year to make it through the court system. Ultimately, truth and facts will prevail. In the meantime, the company will have to deal with the court of public opinion which is often much more unrelenting than the system.

[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Honest Company]


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