SafeMama on The Honest Company Launch

By Kristie Turck •  Published 01/19/12 •  7 min read

Last updated on August 12th, 2012 at 03:06 pm

Hi everyone! I’ve been so busy but I am researching my little heart out so bear with me.  I have gotten a ton of email from all of my loyal SafeParents on what I thought of the new products that were launched this week by Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan’s new company The Honest Company.  I have been waiting with baited breath for the launch of their products and I know many of are wanting to know my thoughts…

Are the products really good? Or greenwashing? Is it worth buying? What do you think about the ingredients? Would you buy it? WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I can answer some of those questions, but I have not received any advance samples (I have since received some samples and am impressed with the quality of the products – but my statements below still stand) of any of the products so I can’t give you any first hand information.  But I have spent some time reading their website and can provide some insight based only on what they have published.

A little back story… Jessica Alba has been a wonderful representative for mothers everywhere who want and demand better regulation of chemicals in our every day products.  As a mother herself she has gone to Capitol Hill to use her influence to lobby for these changes.  She teamed up with Christopher Gavigan of Healthy Child Healthy World to bring safer products to the main stream. I love them both for doing this.  As SafeMama I really do support their efforts because I know they are coming from a good place… but I also have my loyalties rooted in you, my readers.  My obligation is to you, to ensure that you get a straightforward idea of products that you use for your families. So The Honest Company, while I am supportive and happy to see their appearance on the market, will get put through the SafeMama Ringer just like everyone else.  No special treatment.  First, the positive:

Cleaning Products

I don’t have much to gripe about with the cleaning products.  They look safe and effective and have a very limited amount of ingredients which is a plus.  The dish soap simply states its made of  “Ingredients: Water & coconut oil derived surfactants”. It seems a little vague but it’s all we can tell so far. I’m really curious to see how they perform.  Will get back to you at a later date and possibly a separate review of those.

Diapers & Wipes

The Honest Diapers are adorable and I am curious to check them out. They are made with plant based materials with a core of corn starch and acrylic polymers.  The outer shell is comprised of plant fibers and spandex.  They are a safer alternative to regular disposables.  Do not be fooled into thinking they are biodegradable though.  If I had a choice between these and Pampers, you are right in assuming these would be a much safer choice for baby. There are no phthalates from perfumes or dyes and no PVC or chlorine.  They look promising if you are not into cloth diapering, these might be a good choice for the price.

The Honest Wipes are biodegradable and they look great, but there is not a detailed ingredients list published so I can’t comment on the ingredients until I have them in my hands.

Skin Care Products

The positive: All the Honest Company skin care products are free of SLS, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances & dyes, formaldehyde, petrochemicals & common allergens.  Plus!

I am pretty happy with their approach, using organic ingredients when possible and focusing on making a product that isn’t loaded with petro chemicals.  However, in a few products here and there I found some things that I know you try to avoid, as do I, so I might be more selective about which ones I order. (I hate that this is taking on a negative approach but what can I do).

The baby skin care mainly is decent and chock full of lovely acceptable ingredients like Organic aloe and shea butter but  did find a few minor things that bothered me.  Sodium Benzoate (some experts believe that the presence of a benzene ring mixed with other ingredients, like vitamin C, could create a carcinoenic by product – that may not be the case here but there is a tangerine ingredient and citric acid present with it so I thought it was worth mentioning.  Studies have shown Sodium Benzoate to be safe, but because of the other ingredients listed I was weary. ) is present in a few products, the hand wash contains Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Phenoxyethanol – both of which I have struggled with and had many arguments with product makers over the safety of them.  I still firmly maintain that they are not ideal.  They’re not awful in the grand scheme but if you’re being picky….

These discrepancies are found in the types of products most natural product makers struggle with: Water based products and foaming products.  Products that require water as an ingredient are to make the product thinner like lotions.  The drawback is that it requires a preservative and that’s where we tend to find trouble. Sodium benzoate is a preservative, Phenoxyethanol is a preservative and so are parabens.  Preservatives are needed in water based products to lengthen the life of a product and to keep harmful bacteria from developing.

Products that need to have a foaming action are another one.  You need a surfactant to make that luxurious bubbly foam we all enjoy.  But many times those surfactants (usually it’s SLS in mainstream products) that are the troublemakers.  Companies reached for Cocamidopropyl Betaine as a “safe” alternative but I’ve read otherwise.  Some people might not find it troublesome.  Some do.  That decision is yours.

When it comes to the easier products like Healing Balm, The Honest Company has come through. But safe healing balms and rash creams are easier to find. Theirs is Certified Organic which is a nice bonus.  I’m also relatively pleased with their new Honest Sunscreen which uses non-nanoparticle  zinc.  Some will argue that the Vegetable Emulsifying Wax is undesirable and should have a higher score in the EWG Skin Deep database but I don’t have a firm opinion on that yet.

Overall, some skin care products look great, – fantastic even, and others look like they tried and fell short on a few ingredients by probably listening to a chemist that said “phenoxyethanol is better than parabens so you can use that”.  Which is correct, but if we’re going for 100% safe we want nothing remotely controversial in our baby’s skin care.

Would I buy them?

So.  Again, I respect the intentions of this company… transparency of ingredients and practices, their mission to provide more affordable safer products to parents, is wonderful and I support them in this endeavor.  But I always promise, like The Honest Company, to be HONEST with you about the products you use and buy.  I will hopefully be able to examine things more closely in the future and I hope this answers some of your questions about what I think of their new products.

I would buy some of their products, yes. Are they perfect? I think that’s an unreasonable expectation. but not everyone agrees with my perspective on things.  For some, it might be exactly what they are comfortable with.  If it’s a matter of The Honest Company versus Johnson & Johnson … The Honest Company wins hands down every time.