Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal published a disappointing article about our company that included many factual inaccuracies and misleading statements, especially regarding our laundry detergent. The Journal clearly had the goal of harming the reputation and good will that we are so proud to have built here at Honest and we wanted to set the record straight.

Despite providing the Journal with evidence to the contrary, the Journal has falsely claimed our laundry detergent contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). At Honest, we use Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS) in our detergent and multi-surface cleaner. In fact, the Journal never even tested for SCS.

While many name brand detergents use SLS to create suds, we have always chosen to use SCS at Honest. Independent studies have shown that SCS is less irritating and safer to use in products from skin care to cleaners. Safe and effective, just like we like it because we want nothing more than for you to feel good about using our products everyday.

We feel it’s important to share with you accurate information about the ingredients we choose to use in our products and why. We also want to dispel the myth that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS) are the same. They are not. So here we go.

All sulfates are blends of carbon links (chains of carbon in varying lengths). But that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. Table sugar and formaldehyde have the same building blocks (carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen), but as we all know, they are incredibly different, chemically speaking. The amount and arrangement of the elements, and the molecules they form, makes all the difference in the world.

In the case of SLS and SCS, even though both are derived from coconut oil, their molecular makeup is quite different. As the starting material, coconut oil is comprised of fatty acids that are carbon chains made up of links of eight carbon atoms (C8) to links made up of 20 carbon atoms (C20). More specifically, it’s primarily made up of caprylic acid (C8), decanoic acid (C10), lauric acid (C12), myristic acid (C14), palmitic acid (C16), and oleic acid (C18).

  • SLS is created by primarily isolating the C12 and C14 carbon chains from coconut oil through fractionation and distillation. Focusing on just these two carbon chains results in a molecule that is quite simple, quite strong, and has a small molecular mass – which means it easily penetrates the skin and can cause irritation.
  • SCS is less processed than SLS and contains a variety of the coconut oil fatty acids (carbon chains), not just C12 and C14, resulting in a more complex molecule with a larger molecular mass that prevents it from penetrating your skin – meaning far less irritancy potential. (Side note: the C12 and C14 carbon chains used to make SLS are a part of SCS, but that doesn’t mean SLS is in SCS. For example, lauric acid is also naturally present in breast milk and cow’s milk – not as a contaminant – it’s a natural building block of these compounds.)

Beyond the molecular makeup of these two ingredients, there are also some other facts that distinguish them from one another:

  • SCS can only be made from raw coconut oil, while SLS can be refined from many raw materials, including palm oil or petroleum.
  • The CAS number for SLS is 151-21-3 and the CAS number for SCS is 97375-27-4. What the heck is a CAS number? It’s the internationally recognized identification number for a chemical, which means the world’s authority for chemical information recognizes these are two distinct chemicals.

The science of chemistry is the foundation of making products so we live and breathe it every day at Honest. We want all of our consumers to always feel great about using our products so we hope this information helped clarify things a bit. Now back to our mission of creating safe and effective products for our family and yours.

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  • Felix Morningside

    One of the major components of Sodium Coco Sulfate is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This company is carefully parsing its words. Admit it, you GOT CAUGHT! Also exactly where are your products manufactured?

    • Katie

      Are you a chemist? If so, then I would like to know where you get your facts… Just because items have the same “ingredients” doesn’t make them the same product or mean that one contains the other. Washing soda and baking soda contain the same chemicals in them, but because they are manufactured differently they are NOT the same product (unless of course you’d like to eat the caustic Washing soda…).

    • Lycan

      They didn’t get caught at anything. Sheese….. Look at the chemistry.
      BTW, just about all Honest products are made in the USA. So far the only product that I have found not to be made in the USA are the wipes and those score a 1 on the EWG web site.

  • Mia

    I’m 26 years old and I didn’t start caring about what chemicals were in my hand soap, laundry detergent and so on. I do have an 8 month old baby who I want to protect to from as much as I can but at the end of the day, there are chemicals in everything! The air we breath is polluted! I will choose to order from Honest because they have less chemicals and strive to protect my baby. I use Tide on my clothes and hypoallergenic on my babies clothes. I use seventh generation handsoap and Meyers dish soap. These companies at least put an effort into minimalising the chemicals typically used that are “harmful”. Again, I’m 26 and never had anything chemical free or organic until I was an adult and started to care. At the end of the day, people (WSJ) will try and defame anything and anyone to stir up trouble. So what if Honest uses SLS versus SCS?! Most adults in this world didn’t have the options that are available today to keep “you and your family safe”. I have the diaper bundle and I signed on because of the designs and ease of choosing my delivery date and The 2 day shipping. Everything else honest offers is just a product to me. I have some cleaning solutions but I still own Clorox bleach spray. Honest is trying their best to offer safer products and I commend them on that. Keep up the good work!

    • Lycan

      I stay away from Meyers and Seventh Generation products. They both contain very harmful chemicals, benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone Both of these have been linked to cancers, immune toxicity and skin irritates.
      They, like a lot of companies, like to play the “derived from plants” game or claim they don’t contain any of the “dirty dozen”.

      But they do contain synthetic garbage and I personally feel they mislead people. Like most companies. lol

      Try searching the EWG web site (environmental working group). They are a good place to start when searching for green products.

      I was the same way. Didn’t even think about this stuff till I had kids. Now I try to buy everything I can that’s as chemical free and as minimally processed as possible.

      Congratulations on your baby. 🙂

      • Mia

        Thanks for recommending the website! See, all it takes is a little bit of talking and educating! I hate when people bash on companies, especially on The Honest Co.. It’s really annoying. I am planning on eventually phasing out my typical cleaning products and soaps in order to become green for my baby. For me, I still don’t care haha

    • Clarissa Holz

      the air you breath is also a chemical. water is a chemical. your body is made up of chemicals. there is no such thing as “chemical free”

  • Karen Neil

    I have very sensitive skin and so far have not had any trouble with any of your products

  • Elena

    I like the detergent. I have sensitive skin and the honest detergent has never caused me to break out. Thank you honest company for trying to be clear about the difference and for communicating with your customers.

  • ChemistChris

    I will preface this by saying I do use Honest products in my household. I am also a PhD Chemist and this response is a bit misleading. SCS is not one single compound, but actually a mixture of several compounds, one of which is SLS. Coconut oil can contain up to ~50% lauric acid, which is in turn converted to SLS. So unless Honest is getting SCS with the SLS removed, then it will certainly be there.

    Analogously, it is similar to listing seasoning mix as an ingredient for burgers, but saying there isn’t any salt in the burgers (even though salt is contained within said seasoning mixture).

    It is important to note that the SCS mixture is actually “safer” than SLS, because it contains less SLS then it otherwise would if they were using 100% SLS.

    • Pat

      To clarify: They said SLS is part of the molecular mass, just as Lauric Acid is in milk. To me that means they are not hiding or lying as the original article implied. I understand that SCS is a completely different chemical….so to hear you clarify better…in layman’s terms would be more helpful that the response you provided. Those of us who do not work in this realm are not informed albeit not ignorant, so please continue…;)

      • ChemistChris

        Hi Pat, hopefully I can clarify some things for you.

        1) SLS is a single compound where SCS is a mixture of several compounds (which includes SLS). This is quite confusing when you read Honest’s reply and is misleading. The fact that the WSJ found SLS in the detergent is not surprising, because by definition is a component of SCS.

        2) Honest’s comparison of SLS and SCS to Lauric acid in milk is a false permise (in fact they have no relationship to each other). Lauric acid is a completely separate compound and its safety is not correlated to SLS or SCS.

        3) Here is the real issue at hand: Honest Co detergent contains component A (SCS) and the “non Honest” detergent contains component B (SLS). Honest says component B does not exist in their detergent. Turns out component A is actually mixtures of B (SLS), C, D, E, and F (which are other similar compounds). So though component B is not as concentrated as the “non honest” detergent, it is still there. The WSJ is pointing this fact out that it is still contained within.

        With all of that said, honest detergent is probably easier on the skin than a detergent that uses 100% SLS. So for everyone reading this comment, you are okay to use it and it is not going to hurt you.

        Honest Co. has very good intentions and make great products, but this is a case of misinforming the consumer. Honest should say that it contains smaller amounts of SLS.

        • Brittany U.

          Hi, Chemist Chris, thanks so much for all the clarification. Ever since I saw all the hoopla, I’ve been trying to find unbiased information to lay out the facts. I am finishing my minor in biochemistry this semester, and, while I understand a great deal, there is soooo much more to learn and understand, and I just wanted to thank you for sharing some of your knowledge. 🙂

          • Tru

            I would take anything this company has to say with a grain of salt. It’s just their word, and they are very new. Plus alba is basically just a paid spokesperson, she didn’t even go to college. They should not be giving medical or chem lessons to anyone.

          • Brittany U.

            I try to take everything everyone says with a grain of salt. It’s either Honest saying they use SCS, which by nature contains the same carbon chain as SLS, or people looking to get angry and go on rants about how false Alba is, etc. I just want unbiased facts, and I’m finding it’s difficult to sort through all the comments/posts/articles on this to find the actual facts.

            What I do know is that I’ve used Honest products (including the detergent) for years, and I’ve never had a negative reaction to any of their products, which have all worked very well for me.

  • Sheila Lenahan Kowalski

    I have very sensitive skin and I am allergic to many detergents, fragrances and soaps. My skin and health have improved since using Honest Company for over 1 year. I understand in this day and age it is not always possible to make everything 100% natural/organic and have it work effectively in my not so organic washing machine. I love the products they are the best out there, priced well, and bundles are super convenient!

  • Mom B

    I have to say that after being an Honest company user and also an Ava Anderson user the way Honest has stood behind their products I will continue using their products. Ava Anderson ran when they were questioned. Honest has been well, Honest, when they are questioned. They didn’t run and hide and close their business bc of someone questioning them. It’s almost impossible to find anything 100% pure anywhere. If these products have a slight amount of SLS I will continue to use them. Rather than the 100% chemical ridden products that are everywhere. At least they are trying to make safer better products. No one can hide anything these days. I love these products and will continue using them. Carry on.

    • ChemistChris

      Hi Mom B,

      The use of chemical in your comment is quite misleading. Honest company makes there detergent out of “chemicals”. It is better to focus on each individual component or chemical and whether or not it is safe (and at what concentration is safe). For example, Formaldehyde is a chemical. It is also is naturally present in a variety of fruits including bananas and pears. Should we not eat those fruits? Of course not. Is formaldehyde bad for you at very high concentrations? Yes, but so is just about everything in nature is including water.

    • emmam34

      That’s finally a reasonable comment. The issue is basically that they are using small amounts of SLS but refuse to admit it. If the products work for people they should use them. To me the bigger story was with the sunscreen since some people and children actually got burned using it. That’s a problem. This small amount of SLS is not a big deal. The company probably should just put an * next to SLS on their banned list and just explain that it can be found in minimal amounts in other chemicals used. Big whoop…

  • Selene Sonja

    I honestly freaked out when I first read the article. Not sure how to react, all I felt was deceived and angry. I am a first time mom and my daughter has a VERY sensitive skin. I thought I was just throwing money by subscribing to this company and paying a little bit overpriced products (which I DON’T mind at all as long as it’s safe for my daughter and the whole family) and then all of a sudden – boom! Not honest at all. I still believe in this company and I hope that they are sincere because there a lot of families who opted to use their products in hope that it would be safer.

    • ChemistChris

      In my experience our baby does really well with Honest products. I would not be so quick to dismiss them. It would be tough to find better quality baby products out there.

    • Reuben

      Don’t be conned by DISHonest, there are a lot better products made in the US or europe out there

  • Sydney Lauren Schmidt

    I am Still NOT HAPPY with the fact that you DO ANY BUSINESS IN CHINA!!! NONE of your products or ingredients should come from CHINA. EVER!!! I am done with the Honest Company. I have finally had it!

    • ChemistChris

      China is one of the biggest chemical producers in the world. You are unlikely to find a company that exclusively uses chemicals from the USA. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss them.

      • Sydney Lauren Schmidt

        NOT TRUE!!! There are companies that will not use ANY chinese products! Not all chemicals are from the USA, but as long as its not CHINA!! The products are out there, you just have to do your research!! And while this SLS garbage is happening and this company no longer being honest, I am stuck with buying certain products from them. (Made in USA – but probanly lying about that too in some way) I am VERY vocal about there business in China and having to buy diapers from them, I throw away all the wipes they send with them because they are contracted with a horrible chinese company over there that has violated several laws for chemicals they use, yet they make the baby wipes for the ‘Honest’ company. It is unfortunate that they are more concerned with profit by using chinese companies known for lying and trying to cover it up, than creating jobs in the USA and producing a way better product NOT made with anything from china!!

        • L

          Chemist Chris is right. Many raw material based chemicals are imported. Not all but many. they get shipped here for processing sometimes but often not. North America doesn’t make all the raw chemicals we use for many of our daily use products. Labelling laws are often quite sneaky and allow a product to be labeled a product of one country when many components of the product are out sourced. There are very fine, small places one can find products not sourced in China. Some excellent German and French lines. But the dollar ends up being the final call for most companies. If that’s the case, China has ready and open doors.

        • Char

          Why are you stuck buying products from Honest? Cancel your subscription and move on with life.

          • Reuben

            SERIOUSLY, their are WAY better companies out there! Dont buy into the brand when it’s actually DISHonest!

    • Reuben

      They only want your money, they could care less about the quality or the lack thereof of their products. To prove this, While Jessica Alba rakes in billions, they have never tested their own products and shared any results with their customers. DISHONEST DOES NOT CARE!

  • iloveloureed

    I grew up in the 70’s and all the crap we had was not very good for us. I remember smoking in airplanes. Ah the good old days. Let’s stop being so precious with all this free & pure stuff, it’s so boring.

    • Tru

      That’s not the point. The point is that they are selling their brand as completely organic and safe and therefor way pricier. Which is a complete farce.

      • iloveloureed

        Ehhh I’ve got bigger fish to fry than this poppycock.

        • Meeh

          Doubtful Iloveloureed. You keep replying to people on here!! 😄

          • iloveloureed

            Oh meeh, aren’t you clever? You seem to have a bit of time to waste as well, by putting in your rusty 2 cents. Sod off and waste your breath on a worthier cause.

      • Reuben

        Notice how all the negative comments get deleted? Suppression and manipulation at it’s finest.

        If you like being suppressed, manipulated, brainwashed, lied too, then DISHONEST is for you!

        • AG

          They’re deleting it because you’re retarded. If you don’t like the brand hop off it.

  • Clarissa Holz

    i would still buy the detergent if you used sls

    • Reuben

      Your a zombie that only cares about the brand, DISHONEST, and you could care less whats in it or that it’s made in the most toxic place on earth.

      This thinking will take its toll on you!

      • ASMRinReview E

        Your negativity is going to take its toll on you. I can see that you have spent a considerable amount of time in the past 3 days trying to make others feel dumb while at the same time you try to bring a company down. Its sad that you have nothing better to do than pull others into your miserable way of thinking. Just as you say that you cant believe everything this company says, the same goes for all media outlets. Take everything with a grain of salt and move on 😉

        • Reuben

          Negativity? There’s nothing negative about exposing the HONEST truth. 3 Days, try 5 minutes in ONE day that I spent exposing a corrupt company parading as something they aren’t at all.

          The FACTS don’t lie. The truth is Jessica Alba will stoop as low as possible to make billions all the while she doesn’t invest any money in testing or supporting Americans with her China made junk products. People are being brainwashed to believe her products are any better than all the other baby products which a lot of them are actually made in the USA. DISHonest is the worst possible option out there for any baby.

          There’s nothing more dangerous than a company that lies, brainwashes, and manipulates it’s customers only to line the pockets of it’s greedy execs.

          This company is right up there with MONSANTO.

  • Danielle.slifka@gmail.com

    I’d like to know why there’s Sodium Nitrates in the new lotions and conditioners, but the product team won’t respond to me.
    I refuse to eat sodium nitrates in my food because how bad they are for you, but now I have to check the one company I trusted every time they release new products.
    ….bummed.

  • Jason

    You lie to consumers. You are just like blue buffalo dog food who just settled a law suit for having ingredients it claimed it didn’t have. You lie until you get caught and then lie more. You don’t own your manufacturing facilities so you can’t be sure what’s in your product. You rely on the government testing the large companies and not you. You got caught…own your lie.

  • Katheen Davidson

    I trust Honesty products, my daughter uses them for her home and baby and they.. are just fine..my daughter researches what she uses and uses several safe product brands in her home also…so I trust you and what you say…great products, love the diapers, the baby products, and cleaning and laundry products. will continue to buy and use..

    • emmam34

      “trusting” a multi-billion dollar corporation is probably never a good idea. Having said that, SLS is not gonna kill anybody, and your daughter would be just fine when using and being around products containing SLS -she probably has been her entire life. So the issue here is that the company “banned” this chemical yet uses other chemicals that contain it. This is a problem if you call your company “honest” and keep asking people to “trust” you. If the company really cared about their customers they would insist the customers do their own research instead of trusting people they don’t know and never met.

    • Reuben

      The issue here is that the companies Brand is HONEST and they are anything but that. If you are ok using toxic products made in CHINA on your own daughter, then your clearly a zombie. The diapers are the worst, most all the other diapers brands are made in the USA.

      • AG

        Here is the list of Honest products made in China:
        Wipes
        Dish Brush
        Dish Towels
        Suds Up
        Diaper Caddy
        Beco Baby Carrier.

        Basically the material things that if made in the USA would be over charged like a mother and nothing that needs testing. Get over yourself Consciousone.

        • Consciousone

          They have a lot more products than that made in CHINA. The Diapers and Wipes alone being made in China is a clear sign to stay away from this company at all costs. Can you imagine using such toxic products made in China on a newborn babies soft and sensitive skin? The real problem here is this company thinks it’s better than the worst of what’s out there, but it’s not at all. That’s why it’s DISHonest. Alba only cares about your money!

          So Huggies and almost all the other diaper brands can manufacture their diapers in the USA, but the HONEST company can’t? Get over yourself AG!

          • Ursula

            The diapers are not made in China.

          • Shopshopshop

            What are your sources? You seem to have very negative view of the company and it must be coming from somewhere. Please share!

  • Tru

    SCS contains a mixture of various cleaning agents that include a significant amount of SLS.

  • Christine K. Thompson

    I’m still not convinced. Honest, like most companies, purchases the stuff that goes inside their bottles from someone else who tells them that it doesn’t have any of this stuff in it. How do they really know? Are they chemically testing it all? That article that was posted reported that when they chemically tested it in a lab, they found the chemicals Honest has claimed not to have in their products. Honest, what is your response to that? Be honest here.

    • Reuben

      Their products are made in China, you really think they give a damn about your health, Jessica Alba only wants your money. Zombies buy the brand without actually knowing or caring where it’s made or what it’s made with!

  • Tru

    Their detergents have the same concentration of SLS as Tide detergent. Not so honest!

  • SAnne

    @Honest still not owning up to whats going on huh? Its obvious the company is running away from the issue at hand and why yes this is a big issue at hand. Clearly delusional and in denial.

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  • Rachel

    You still have my support. I think you have/are handling the situation well. #HonestCompany #Honestly

    • Reuben

      I think you’ve lost your mind and are just another zombie caught up in the DISHonest branding!

      There’s NOTHING Honest here!

  • Great Lakes

    its impossible to make SCS, without the end result not containing SLS. Every chemist in the world knows this and why the WSJ found it in your products and why your manufacturer wont deny it. But who cares, move on

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  • Kcb

    You discontinued the Children’s Chewable Multivitamin and replaced it with an inferior vitamin with the plans to also introduce a seperate probiotic. The probiotic was also removed from the Baby and Toddler Powder. The new Gummy Vitamin doesn’t include nearly the vitamins, minerals and whole foods blend as the discontinued chewable. Very sad!

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  • Reuben

    Honest is now DISHONEST!!! While Jessica Alba rakes in billions selling toxic products made in China, the most toxic place in the world and she does this all for your babies.

    What a joke this company is! You could choose any of the worst companies out there and they will be better for your baby than DISHonest. At least their made by Americans in the USA and they don’t brainwash their customers by lying to them.

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  • L.D. Dong

    It is hilarious that you all made her so rich!!! She is stupid, she doesn’t know the difference in Sweden and Switzerland and you buy $5 bar soap from her. Don’t be mad because she lies to you…be mad because you believe it so fervently – with your wallets!!! LOL

  • Valkyrie.aceso

    I recuse myself from this suite. People need more science education and less political bull.