Jessica Alba isn’t having the best month. After a couple claimed her Honest Company may not be that honest, the Wall Street Journal commissioned two laboratories to test the company’s laundry detergent. These tests revealed the detergent contains sodium lauryl sulfate, even though the Honest Company claims they don’t use that chemical in their products.
The Honest Company said sodium lauryl sulfate “can cause irritation” and that they use sodium coco sulfate instead since it is “less irritating and safer to use.” However, the tests performed by Impact Analytical and Chemir showed sodium lauryl sulfate was present in the detergent in more than just trace amounts.
The Wall Street Journal reported that when told of the allegations, Honest Company furnished a document from their manufacturer Earth Friendly Products, saying the product does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Earth Friendly said that document came from their chemical supplier, Trichromatic West, who did the testing. Trichromatic West said they don’t add sodium lauryl sulfate to their products and thus didn’t test for it, but also said the detergent was “fairly and honestly represented.”
So where did “significant amounts” of sodium lauryl sulfate come from if no one put it in the detergent?
A senior scientist from the Environmental Working Group, David Andrews, said “The general process of making sodium coco sulfate would have sodium lauryl sulfate in it.” Other scientists, including an adviser to Honest Company, said sodium coco sulfate is still safer because it’s made differently.
Honest Company posted a blog detailing the differences between the two chemicals, and maintained they do not use sodium lauryl sulfate. They said the Wall Street Journal article had “factual inaccuracies and misleading statements” and the newspaper “clearly had the goal of harming the reputation and good will that we are so proud to have built here at Honest…”
Is it such a big deal that sodium lauryl sulfate is present? Seventh Generation, another natural products giant, said both sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium coco sulfate can be irritants if they’re not formulated correctly. However, if they’re made with care, both are safe – and Seventh Generation uses both in their products. Senior Vice President of Research and Development Tim Fowler said, “In all practicality they act and behave as the same chemical in consumer products.”