Diapers, check. Cleaning supplies, check. Lip balm, check. Lifestyle book, check. Everything seems to be falling into place for Jessica Alba these days. A year ago, the actress and mom of two — Honor, 4, and Haven, 1 — had just launched The Honest Company as an eco-friendly baby and household cleaning product company. Today, the business has expanded to include lifestyle products, and Jessica's just published The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You, a guide to creating a healthy and chic home for the family. Filled with everything from toxins to avoid in furniture and decor items to Jessica's beauty, decorating, and parenting tips — including crafts and recipes her girls love — the book is a handbook for the hip, modern mom.
Celebrating the launch of the book, we sat down to talk with Jessica about her honest life over eco-friendly manicures yesterday.
What is the "honest life" for you? It's functional, it's practical, it's not overly expensive, and it's authentic. It's what works for me. It's not judgmental.
Is green living something you've always tried to do, or is it something you adopted once you became a mom? I never really knew anything about toxic chemicals or that I needed to look at ingredients until I was pregnant. That's certainly when the moment of awareness of what's in your environment and how it affects your health — this little person that you are all of a sudden responsible for. As I was doing research, it just felt like if you wanted to be eco or if you wanted to be healthier or green, everyone was so extreme — you had to be vegan or you had to do yoga every day and meditate. I believe all of that is great, but it's just so extreme. There had to be an in-between. I can be modern, young, and hip. You can eat meat if you want to, and you can wear makeup. You can live your life, but you can just make better choices.
What was the first thing you changed in your life? Or the first product you threw away? I threw out pretty much all of my cleaning products. That was the first thing, because I was frustrated with green washing. Then I went to beauty after that. What am I putting on my body, what am I inhaling? That's going directly to my baby. Then, I was putting together my house at the time, so I was looking for the right materials. That was a whole other thing — trying to find what to even stuff your couches with, and how you find fabrics that aren't sprayed with flame-retardants, and wallpaper and paint. I was doing all of it at the same time.
It's Spring soon, and parents are starting to look into spring cleaning their homes. What would be the first thing you recommend people change to make their homes healthier? Certainly take your shoes off. That's so easy. Try to keep your windows open. What is inside your home and the air quality in your home…all of the off-gassing is actually more toxic than outside. You can spring for a HEPA filter, either in your main air conditioner or free-standing, and that purifies the air. You're not going to switch out all your furniture or throw away all of your rugs, but if you have the option, try to make better choices and know what's coming into your home. I think that's the biggest thing — know what you're purchasing. Opening the windows as much as you can and taking your shoes off at the door. It's crazy what a difference that makes!
You have a school-aged child now. It's a lot of paper, a lot of paint, a lot of mess that they bring home. When they say it's washable, it is not washable! That stuff is not washable.
All those pretty clothes you send them to school in, they come back a mess. Ugh, a mess! [Honor's] been wanting rainbow hair, so she painted her hair at school and I was like, "Did you paint your hair?" And she was like, "No. It's only in one section; it's perfect." She totally painted her hair! And she says, "The teacher told me to stop, so I stopped."
Do you go into the school at all and try to convince them to adopt the lifestyle? They're into it. Nobody wants to expose their kids to toxic chemicals. Nobody is saying, "Yeah, I want my kids to have allergies and put them at risk for diseases." It's not really something you have to convince people of. You just have to give them a high-performance alternative that's affordable. And luckily my products are that.
Anyone who follows your Instagram feed knows…That I like food!
Do you bring the kids into the kitchen? Oh, yeah. Honor loves cracking eggs and mixing things and pouring things.
Do you try to bring in some of your cultural heritage with your cooking? I'm American, so it's a mixture of everything I grew up with. I certainly grew up with Mexican American food, and we eat that. But we also eat everything else around the sun. We do have breakfast tacos 90 percent of the time…every morning.
You seem to travel a lot with your kids. Any wonderful tips for parents about traveling with kids? I have many! Hand sanitizer. Wipes. Some sort of device to watch favorite movies or TV shows, or apps, whether it's a tablet or computer. A cozy blanket. I always bring my daughters' sound machines; there's this sleep lamb thing. I bring that. When they're laying down in a foreign environment, they have the sound and they have the smell of their little blankie — it kind of comforts them. That helps for sure!
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