The Honest Company pledges to provide the best and safest products, a claim that's attracted devoted customers and a nearly $1.7 billion private valuation. However, recent tests have found that it's laundry detergent isn't as squeaky clean as it claims.
Two independent lab tests commissioned by the Wall Street Journal found that the brand's laundry detergent contained sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS as it's commonly called. In fact, one of the labs found that the concentration of SLS was nearly equal to that found in Tide, the popular detergent made by Proctor & Gamble. Honest Company has said that its products are "Honestly free" of potentially dangerous chemicals, including SLS which the company lists first in its compilation of ingredients it avoids.
SLS can be found in hundreds of consumer products, from Colgate toothpaste to Pantene shampoo and Method hand wash. The chemical, which is what creates a foamy lather, has garnered an overall low hazard label by the Environmental Working Group, a non-partisan group that researches chemicals in consumer products, and generally can cause skin irritation and rashes in high concentrations. However, many people seek to avoid the chemical for its possible, though not scientifically proven, links to endocrine disruption and cancer.
The Honest Company has said that its products are SLS-free, and they instead use sodium coco sulfate (SCS), which they say is a "gentler alternative always derived from coconut." The company told the WSJ that its own lab findings found no SLS in its products and has confirmation from its partners and suppliers that there's zero SLS content in its products.
Fortune reached out for comment and an Honest Company spokeswoman said she would be in touch.
David Andrews, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, told the publication that in order to produce the SCS used in the Honest Company detergent, it would require some level of SLS in it. Chemicals manufacturer Stepan echoed that statement, saying that SCS does contain SLS.
The Honest Company has since updated its website to say that its products are "Honestly made without" its list of maligned ingredients, a change from previous wording that proclaimed its "Honestly Free Guarantee," saying its products were "free" of the proclaimed ingredients, including SLS, reported the WSJ.
This wouldn't be the first time actress Jessica Alba's company has been accused of dishonest labeling. The company is facing a lawsuit filed last month that alleges that the company's labeling is inaccurate, saying that the Honest Co. "falsely" and "deceptively" labeled its products natural or other similar terms, like "plant-based," when they actually contained synthetic ingredients.