Hain Celestial Group Inc. is reformulating some shampoos and other personal care products to remove a widely used cleanser, the company confirmed Monday.
The Lake Success-based company, which makes dozens of food, beverage, baby and personal grooming products labeled “natural,” is also pulling claims that its products do not contain the cleanser, sodium lauryl sulfate, which is incorporated in many mass-market brands, according to a front-page story in Monday’s Wall Street Journal.
The Journal said chemists found that Hain products containing an alternative cleanser, sodium coco sulfate, also contained sodium lauryl sulfate.
A Hain Celestial spokeswoman said in an email Monday that the company has been “working on reformulating” its personal care products since last spring to remove sulfates, and announced the start of the reformulation effort on its website in November.
In its statement Monday, Hain likened the issue of sulfates to controversies surrounding genetically modified organisms and bisphenol A (BPA), “where the company has been at the forefront of product standards.”
Leora Halpern Lanz, from Huntington, who lectures on marketing at Boston University, said that companies like Hain that promote their products as natural need to monitor ingredients carefully.
“Does that impact their credibility? Absolutely,” she said. But if the company quickly modifies formulations in response to consumer concerns, “then I’m going to trust them.”
Shares of Hain declined 0.5 percent to close at $41.67 on the Nasdaq Stock Market Monday.
Hain said sodium coco sulfate is used in about 5 percent of its products, including some in the Alba Botanica, Earth’s Best, Avalon Organics and Jason brands.
In laboratory tests, The Journal said it found that products by Hain and The Honest Company Inc., which was co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, contained sodium lauryl sulfate despite assertions that they are free of such chemicals, which some users find to be harsh.
The company described sodium coco sulfate as “a mild cleaning agent derived from coconut oil.” Chemists told The Journal that it contains about 50 percent sodium lauryl sulfate. In an email, Hain said that the newspaper’s assertion is incorrect “based upon our understanding of the science.” The company did not elaborate.
The Journal reported that Hain said that it didn’t add sodium lauryl sulfate to its products, but it would change its labels to increase transparency.