The Honest Company, which Alba founded in 2011, is now valued at an impressive $1.7 billion. Selling cleaning supplies, diapers, baby wipes, bottles, formula, skincare products and vitamins, all are marketed as safe, natural, and non-toxic. The product line appeals in particular to parents who wish to minimize their children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.
But a recent discovery by The Wall Street Journal has called The Honest Company’s commitment to transparency into question. Two independent lab tests, commissioned by the WSJ, have found significant amounts of sodium lauryl sulfate in the company’s liquid laundry detergent, one of its original and most popular products. It was not just a trace amount, but roughly equivalent to the quantity of SLS found in Tide detergent.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a cheap cleansing agent that is often added to products to make them foam better. Its toxicity is debatable; some green-minded companies like Seventh Generation continue to use it, arguing that it is safe when formulated properly, and even the widely respected Environmental Working Group gives it an overall low hazard rating. But Alba herself has called SLS a “toxin that consumers should avoid.” which is why it is on the list of ingredients allegedly not used by the company.
You can hear more about the dispute here on Treehugger, as well as at The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).