Blame Not Jessica Alba For Her Useless Sunscreen


140817-PERS-Jessica-Alba-ftrCelebrities often have the best intentions, but often just manage to make us normal folk laugh at their zany antics. I cite Goop as a major example of the kind of hijinks celebrities get up to when they want to make themselves feel like they’re normal humans when in reality, they’re the farthest from it. But it’s okay, because we often buy completely into it.

That’s why Jessica Alba’s Honest sunscreen isn’t totally her fault.

In case you haven’t heard, it turns out that Jessica Alba’s brand Honest, which she endorses and co-founded, has a major problem with its sunscreen: it does not, in fact, screen from the sun very well. Instead of having anywhere from 18 to 25 percent of zinc oxide, the normal amount for an SPF 30 sunscreen, the new formula of the Honest brand has only about 9%, making users of this sunscreen red in the face—literally and figuratively.

Users have taken to Amazon and their personal social media accounts to express rage at the ineffectiveness of the product, showing off their sunburned skin and the terrible burns their children have suffered as a result of using it.

In a word, people are furious with Jessica Alba. As the face of the company, she’s the obvious target, but it’s a misplaced anger. Why? Because Alba probably has little to nothing to do with the formulas of the product. She’s got the deep pockets and the recognizable face, and she probably has something to do with the mission statement, but that’s where it ends.

The fault lies with us, the people. And more important, the FDA. Here’s why.

There are currently no regulations nor efficacy testing done on any sunscreen sold to the public. That means that it’s left up to each company to formulate their product, leading to wildly inconsistent products across companies.

So there’s no regulation, no standard, and often, toxic products. This may be the reason why Honest, whose slogan is “everything you need, nothing you don’t,” seems less effective: because it doesn’t contain potentially toxic additions like oxybenzone and vitamin A. In Europe, these chemicals are banned. Not so in the United States, which leads to rampant ignorance about the toxicity of these products and chronic misuse.

In other words, Honest isn’t the only dishonest company, but it’s the easiest one to criticize, because a pretty celebrity is at the helm. But Alba isn’t at fault—we are. The public is partially to blame for believing the marketing ploys of a company that knows we’re more likely to buy things a celebrity has endorsed.

Without doing research or being conscious, skeptical consumers, we’re at fault for allowing companies like Honest and countless others to use celebrities to sell us things—because they know it works. Alba probably wholeheartedly believes in selling her fans “honest” products and in making a difference in the world, I wouldn’t know. But I know that we’re enamored with celebrities and want to emulate them, which makes us easy to sell to.

Oh, and less than half a percent of those who bought Honest sunscreen have complained. So maybe they’re just not toweling off before use?

Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.

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