Hollywood actress Jessica Alba has had a somewhat mixed week. Let’s start with the good news. Alba’s venture The Honest Company got behind a good cause by partnering with Girls Who Code and hosting a summer learning programme aimed at empowering young women and encouraging them to forge a path in STEM or business.
“My dreams, in creating this brand and in it coming to life, would not have been possible without technology,” Alba tells Re/code. “It really evened the playing field for me to give everyone access to these safe and healthy products, no matter where you lived… So I just feel like, if we could in any way shape or form or inspire girls to be entrepreneurs, to participate in the creation of the future, the world’s problems can be solved.”
A worthy goal, for sure. But now for the bad news. The Honest Company’s products might not be as “safe and healthy” as consumers once believed; Honest’s sunscreen has received over 200 complaints. One Amazon review calls it the “worst sunscreen ever”, while a mother in Chicago has blasted the company after her daughter suffered sunburn despite repeated applications of the product.
Unlike other celebrity-backed projects, The Honest Company does truly seem to be a passion for Alba, who founded the business in 2012 after her own experience of becoming a mother inspired her to make personal products with 100% non-toxic ingredients. The company has since become a popular brand and was recently valued at $1 billion USD.
The Honest Company has stated that its sunscreen was tested by an “independent third party” and deemed safe. And while a smattering of bad press for a single product is not enough to sink an otherwise healthy company, Sunscreen-gate does provide an opportunity for Alba and her team to review their entire range.
If Alba is sincere in her mission to bring environmentally responsible products to a wide consumer base (as evidenced by the company’s new biodegradable feminine care line), and action is taken to determine that every item in the brand’s offering is safe, then The Honest Company may well be able to weather this miniature PR crisis and live another day.