The media has been all over the Honest Sunscreen story like bees to honey. And while at first it seemed like we could chalk the whole thing to just another media feeding frenzy, now I think this story is even bigger than we thought.
Last week, numerous social media posts appeared from parents claiming that they had applied SPF 30 Honest Sunscreen to their children’s skin, only to watch them experience painful sunburns.
On August 3rd, Honest co-founders Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan published a blog post, claiming “Protecting our loved ones and yours is the reason we founded The Honest Company. As parents, it pains us to hear that anyone has had a negative experience with our Sunscreen.”
According to the company, the recently reformulated Honest Sunscreen was extensively third-party tested and passed all SPF 30 requirements. But it seems to have been quietly recalled: As of this post, only the sunscreen stick remains on offer at Honest.com; at Target.com the SPF 30 Honest Sunscreen Lotion is out of stock.
Yet that hasn’t stopped the media attack. A USA Today story the following day questioned the efficacy of both Honest sunscreen and diapers, and claimed that the company’s $250 million projected revenue for 2015 is in jeopardy.
What’s going on? I place this question in context of the grumbling that I hear about Honest products: basic suspicion about their formulations, resentment about the involvement of “inauthentic” Jessica Alba, and mistrust of their marketing.
The assumption seems to be that a natural products company can’t be this successful without doing something devious.
I think that’s just plain wrong. Alba and Gavigan didn’t just set out to make natural products–they set out to completely disrupt the market and raise the bar for companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.
For years, the children’s product and personal care industries have formulated products without taking into account links between parabens and hormone disruption, synthetic fibers and Toxic Shock Syndrome, or synthetic fragrance and allergies–to name just a few.
And by doing so, it raised awareness among an entire new generation of parents, who now spend time reading their labels and refusing products that contain questionable ingredients.
Probably, there was something wrong with the reformulated Honest Sunscreen–and truly, as a parent I know that there’s nothing worse than watching your children suffer. But it seems to me that the Honest Company has dealt with the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, people. Honestly.
No, this post was not sponsored by the Honest Company, nor was their inclusion in my recent post on disposable versus cloth diapers, but you can read about why I chose to feature them as Mommy Greenest Approved by clicking here. For more back story on my support of the company, take a look at my interview with Christopher Gavigan from 2014. And yes, we talked sunscreen.