The Wall Street Journal: Jessica Alba’s Honest Co. to remove controversial ingredient from its products

Honest Company Inc., the consumer-products business co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, is reformulating its laundry detergent and other cleaning products, removing an ingredient that has created controversy for the company, according to people familiar with the matter.

The five-year-old Santa Monica, Calif., company sells household, baby and personal-care products that it markets as made without chemicals that it says are harsh or potentially harmful to health. Many of the compounds that Honest says it avoids are found in mainstream brands, which say they are safe to use.

In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that two independent lab tests found samples of Honest laundry detergent contained significant amounts of sodium lauryl sulfate, a cleaning agent that is on a list of chemicals that Honest has pledged to avoid. The detergent bottles for years have claimed the product is “free of” SLS.

Honest disputed the labs’ findings and said the company’s own testing didn’t find SLS. Instead, it said it used sodium coco sulfate, which Honest said was a different compound derived from coconut oil and less of a skin irritant than SLS. Chemists interviewed by the Journal said sodium coco sulfate is a mixture of cleaning agents that includes a large amount of SLS.

Honest executives said in March the company had no plans to reformulate the detergent.

The company is now preparing to roll out a new laundry detergent in 2017 that doesn’t contain sodium coco sulfate, according to people familiar with the plans.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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