Kailua, Hawaii (GREED) – The Honest Company, a brand many parents trust to provide safer, more natural products for their family has been repeatedly accused of lying about the quality of their ingredients. The California startup began as a subscription service for disposable, albeit more eco-friendly, diaper service. Their initial popularity allowed the company to launch other household products. At a high point, the company was valued at over $1.7 billion dollars. However, several media reports and a series of lawsuits last year stirred up controversy after it was found that their ingredients were not as natural they appeared. The company, owned in part by actress Jessica Alba, has come under fire for being less than honest about ingredients in their laundry detergent, baby food, and sunscreen.
Last year, the Wall Street Journal accused the company of using sodium lauryl sulfate, a cheap and commonly used foaming agent, in their laundry detergent. Company representatives denied the report, calling it ‘junk science,’ and ‘fake.’ Just the accusation alone was enough to tarnish the company’s reputation, whose name implies unquestionable integrity (since the WSJ accusations, the detergent formula was reformulated). Next came a slew of consumer accusations, including a Twitterstorm of images of bad sunburns after using Honest sunscreen, including one man’s roasted bald head. The Organic Consumer’s Association filed a suit last April claiming that 11 of the 40 ingredients in the company’s baby formula were synthetic and that the product was falsely labeled as organic. The case was dismissed and Honest founders published a blog post defending their formula.
Although financial experts didn’t anticipate all this bad press to affect material sales or profits for The Honest Company, many employees were laid off and an expected purchase by Unilever fell through late last year. The mega-corporation, which owns brands such as Dove, Best Foods, and Ben & Jerry’s, bought competitor Seventh Generation instead. In March this year, Alba and gang announced that a new CEO would step in, according to Forbes. As the company attempts to maximize on retail-chain sales rather than the continue to focus on its e-commerce model, Nick Vlahos, the CEO of Clorox, has been appointed to head up the company. It seems uncertain what the future for Honest will hold. By calling themselves Honest, they made a promise to consumers that they would operate with the utmost integrity. Once you’ve been caught lying, consumer trust is hard to win back.