Honest Co. Gets Burned by Sunscreen Lawsuit

beach boy

Jessica Alba’s Honest Co. is sweating right now.

Someone just filed a class-action lawsuit against Honest claiming it isn’t, in fact, honest. The plaintiff says there are unnatural and ineffective ingredients in the company’s products. Uh-oh.

Honest says its products are ‘natural,’ meaning there are no artificial ingredients. The plaintiff said “nope” and pointed to the unnatural additives: methylisothiazolinone, cocamidopropyl betaine, phenoxyethanol and sodium polycrylate. Surprisingly, no one has said they thought they were buying alphabet soup.

The complaint goes like this: “Honest’s conduct harms consumers by inducing them to purchase and consume the products on the false premise that they are natural and effective, when in fact four of the five products contain ingredients that are not natural, and one of the five products is ineffective.”

The plaintiff says Honest puts additives in its hand soap, dish soap, surface cleaner and diapers. Additionally, he’s upset because he paid 10 to 20 percent extra for these ‘natural’ products. Now he wants his money back … and a little more: a minimum of $5 million in damages to be precise. The money wouldn’t just be for him. It would also refund other customers who bought these products.

The item he accuses of being ineffective is sunscreen. The lawsuit references numerous tweets by customers saying they got sunburns and blisters after slathering on the sunscreen. Some people even posted photos of their sunburns. Not only does getting fried burn like hell and put a damper on beach day, but it’s also associated with aging skin and skin cancer risks.

Alba and co-founder Christopher Gavigan responded to the protests on Twitter by emphasizing their commitment to providing effective products: “Protecting our loved ones and yours is the reason we founded the Honest Co. As parents, it pains us to hear that anyone has had a negative experience with our sunscreen,” reads the message. “We develop and use Honest Sunscreen to protect our own children – Honor, Haven, Luke, Evie and Poppy – at the park, in the pool, outside, every day. As with everything we do, we take sun protection seriously here at Honest.”

They also explained that the sunscreen was tested (according to FDA standards) by an independent third party and given the thumbs up. It also received the highest score possible from the Environmental Working Group.

However: “That said, what matters most to us is your trust and confidence. We’re passionate about living up to your expectations as much as our own. We’ve personally picked up the phone to speak with many of you who have called our customer service hotline. Our team is reaching out to everyone who has posted on social media to assure you that we’re committed to your safety and satisfaction. For those who have expressed concerns about our Sunscreen Lotion, we want you to know that we hear you and we’re here for you. As always, we’ll do what it takes to make it right.” Honest to goodness.

To be continued.

Image credit: Flickr/Carissa Rogers

Renee Farris

Renee is a freelance strategist who works with brands to help them tell their social impact stories in a purposeful and engaging way. She loves connecting with people and discussing cause marketing. You can chat with her at renee.a.farris@gmail.com or TheSocialInnovator.com.

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