Jessica Alba’s Honest Company is being sued for allegedly "deceptively and misleadingly" labeling and marketing its products as natural and effective.
The class action complaint, filed by consumer Jonathan Rubin, specifically targets Honest’s hand soap, dish soap, diapers, multi-surface cleaner, and sunscreen products. He claims that Honest has marketed these products as "natural" on its website, on third-party marketplace portals, and in print and TV ads since at least September 2012, although they contain "unnatural ingredients," such as synthetics.
As part of Honest’s extensive marketing campaign, Rubin added that the company’s name is "designed to ensure consumers take its marketing representations literally."
Rubin referred to a blog post on Honest’s website, which states that Cocamidopropyl Betaine, an ingredient in the company’s dish soap, "isn’t found in nature."
Another Honest blog post "expressly criticizes" competitors for using "preservatives (and ingredients) with synthetic fragrances," such as Methylisothiazolinone, which is present in Honest’s dish soap and multi-surface cleaner products, Rubin said.
"Honest knows the products contain synthetic ingredients," Rubin said, in the suit. "By claiming products that contain synthetic ingredients are natural, Honest knowingly deceives and misleads reasonable consumers."
He also brought up Honest’s sunscreen controversy from last month, which saw numerous customers post pictures of their children’s sunburns on social media, complaining that the company’s products do not work. Honest initially stood behind its products, but later took a crisis-response U-turn, with the company’s founders Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan empathizing with angry customers.
"Honest stated and continues to state that Honest Sunscreen is ‘effective’ for sun block protection," Rubin claimed. "This representation is literally false."
Rubin asked that all profits generated from the products in dispute be refunded, as well as damages of at least $5 million.
Despite the negative coverage, Honest raised $100 million in a round of funding in August, bringing the valuation of the company to $1.7 billion.
An Honest representative was not immediately available for comment.
Honest isn’t the only company under fire from customers who say they were misled. Earlier this week, Chipotle Mexican Grill fought back against a lawsuit contending that the chain has been lying to customers about its food being GMO-free.
Chipotle communications director Chris Arnold told PRWeek that the lawsuit is "meritless."