News about the lawsuit against The Honest Company shocked many parents who are devoted users of the celebrity-owned line—but for some, it comes as no surprise. Actually, industry insiders say that it’s about time for some honest exposure.
The accusation brought against the company alleges that the sunscreen as well as other products in the line do not live up to their marketing claims. The suit follows hundreds of complaints from parents who applied the sunscreen on their children, as per directions, but wound up with sunburns anyway.
Their response is not to be confused with a personal attack against co-founder Jessica Alba or her brand. Rather skin care specialists like Jordan Pacitti view the lawsuit as a call for greater transparency in an industry that not only conceals blemishes, it also conceals the truth about what’s lurking inside products.
“No wonder we see so many reactions and sensitivities. People have no idea what they are really using,” said indie brand owner Jordan Pacitti.
According to this former dancer turned esthetician and founder of Jordan Samuel Skincare, Jordan believes that calling out The Honest Co. is finally taking a step in an honest direction.
His experience formulating skincare gives him a concrete understanding of what goes into a product—and what actually winds up on the label.
Did you know MOST water based extracts (I’m not talking about oil infusions here) are preserved with either parabens, phenoxyethanol, or sodium benzoate, among others,” he said. “These preservatives in botanical extracts don’t need to be on a label. For botanical extracts those ingredients are not part of the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) list.
So Green tea extract can be on a label with its Latin name and then translated—and that’s it!—when the actual formula could contain water, glycerin, green tea extract and parabens/phenoxyethanol/sodium benzoate, etc. A lot of companies will include these ingredients but most will not. We NEED full transparency—green or otherwise.”
Celebrity-endorsed lines are nothing new. Large brands strategically place famous personalities at the helm because it creates a level of trust between the company and the consumer—one that could take years to establish otherwise. That’s also why celebs become the face of ad campaigns in the media. It’s a savvy business move but doesn’t mean that the company will live up to its promises or, well, act with honesty or integrity.
Jordan believes consumers identify with the public personality and want to buy the product because of an “if it’s good for a celebrity it’s good for me” attitude that does not make sense. He said:
I do believe that celebrities have the best intentions. I really do. But sometimes when their history is not in the personal care or home care industries they don’t know what they are getting into. Or aren’t in the trenches as much to know every little thing that is being put into a product. The same can be said for any small or large beauty company.”
Unfortunately, a celebrity lending their name to a line doesn’t prevent greenwashing—or the false claim of being natural. It’s a dirty word in the green beauty world that’s fairly common when it comes to widely circulated brands that orient themselves as “natural.” Consumers may want to be using healthier products, but end up being duped by confusing marketing claims.
Those claims create an image that can be misleading.
Greenwashing lowers the standards of the green beauty industry and confuses an individual who is trying to make the best decision for their health,” said Jordan. “But I think we have gotten to a place where more and more people are becoming educated and clearly know what is good and what is not. It’s not foolproof. But we are getting there.”
While a professional dancer, Jordan battled skin issues that compelled him to start creating his own formulas long before he founded a skin care line. It also led him to switch careers and become a facialist to help others in similar distress.
His standards for his line have remained the same from the outset:
I truly believe that if you stand behind your message and are completely authentic (and transparent) people will seek you out and keep coming back time and again regardless of competition and regardless of budget. Authenticity is key. Always has been. Always will be.”
When asked how consumers can protect themselves, Jordan says that reading and understanding a label often isn’t enough—particularly since labels are not required to list all the ingredients. Your best bet? Finding a product line, therapist, blogger, and/or educator that you trust and staying the course.
His other recommendation: a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to every product line because when it comes to skin care, there is no magic bullet.
Skin is amazing but products aren’t magic. If there was a magic bullet, we would ALL have it, and I would certainly be selling it.”
Now that’s a healthy dose of honesty that this blogging mama is happy to swallow.
For more, check out: The Ugly .01% Secret of Active Ingredients in Skincare by Blissoma founder and chemist, Julie Longyear.