The Honest Company stands behind sunscreen amid customer backlash

NEW YORK — Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company has pledged to reach out to every customer who has complained about its sunscreen on social media.

In a blog post, Honest’s founders said they’ll “do what it takes to make it right.” The response comes after months of complaints about the product.

Angry customers have taken to social media, posting pictures of sunburns they say they got wearing The Honest Company’s SPF 30. More concerns were raised when it was revealed last month that the product’s formula was changed in March, cutting out more than half of its main sun-blocking ingredient, zinc oxide.

The company maintains that the sunscreen is just as effective as it was before. It says the new formula uses a better version of the protective ingredient and adds new chemicals that make up for the reduction in zinc oxide.

The Honest Company “redesigned” its sunscreen after customers said “it didn’t apply as easily as they would’ve liked,” according to the blog post. Now, the lotion is water resistant for 80 minutes instead of 40 and has “a lighter-weight feel,” the company said.

Most modern sunblocks don’t use zinc oxide. They opt for newer chemicals like “avobenzone” and “homosalate,” which are designed to rub into the skin, rather than sit on top of it.

But The Honest Company, co-founded by Alba, brands itself as a manufacturer of nontoxic products for children and the home. It boasts that its sunscreen only uses zinc oxide and “no synthetic chemicals.” The company also said the zinc oxide in the updated product is better at blocking the sun.

Honest says the new formula was tested by a third party, and that it met FDA guidelines for its “SPF 30” and “broad spectrum” labels.

Customers, however, are still complaining. “My 4-year-old has a nice red sun burn from your sunscreen on her face, even after reapplying multiple times,” one user tweeted on Sunday.

Last month, another customer tweeted a picture of herself looking visibly sunburned.

The Honest Company said that the volume of customer complaints hasn’t changed since the product’s formula was changed.

The company said the issue may be that customers aren’t using the product correctly. The sunscreen should be applied “liberally” and “evenly” 15 minutes before going outside, says a spokeswoman, and reapplied at least every two hours.

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