Jessica Alba’s Honest Company Sued Over False Marketing Claims
With the spotlight on 'ineffective sunscreen'
Jessica Alba’s Honest Company is being sued by a customer who claims the company is not so honest after all.
The fuss is over Honest’s reportedly ineffective sunscreen. The customer claims the company is making false claims in its marketing and labeling to sell the lotion. 
“The allegations against us are baseless and without merit. We strongly stand behind our products and the responsibility we have to our consumers,” Alba said in a statement to CNNMoney. I am very proud that we have built this company into an industry leader focused on using natural ingredients and developing products that people love.”
Earlier this year, Honest Company customers complained en masse on social media about the firm’s SPF 30 sunscreen, posting photos of themselves with sunburns. In March, it came to light that the company had cut more than half of the sunscreen’s zinc oxide, which is the product’s main sun-blocking ingredient. 
The Honest Company insisted the sunscreen was just as effective as it ever was, and said it utilized a superior version of zinc oxide and added new chemicals that make up for the cut in the protective ingredient. The company said it reformulated the lotion due to complaints that the product “didn’t apply as easily as they would’ve liked.” The Honest Company said in a blog post that the sunscreen is now water resistant for 80 minutes instead of 40, and has a “lighter-weight feel.”
The firm promised to “do what it takes to make it right.”
In the lawsuit, filed in a California federal court this week, the plaintiff accuses The Honest Company of creating “misleading” marketing and online messages, even as the company claims to be “transparent.”
“The ‘honestly FREE guarantee’ states: ‘Providing clear, credible, transparent information. No smoke and mirrors. No confusion,'” the suit states.
Last month, Honest Company CEO Brian Lee said in a video interview with CNNMoney last month that he would welcome a lawsuit if larger companies would ban “the 1,200 chemicals we do not use in our products.” The same video, however, goes on to note that the Honest Company’s website lists only about 40 ingredients that it says it excludes from its products.
The lawsuit also alleges that several of The Honest Company’s products, including Honest Hand Soap, Honest Diapers, and Honest Multi-Surface Cleaner, contain “synthetic ingredients.” Additionally, the suit claims Honest products are considerably more expensive than similar products that are not marketed as natural – a 10% to 20% premium.
This is not the first time a company has faced allegations of misleading advertising. In February, Church & Dwight settled a lawsuit over Arm & Hammer “Natural Deodorant” for containing triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient. As part of the agreement, the company said it will give consumers who submit a claim $4 for each unit purchased.
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.