Like Mother Earth, Jessica Alba is constantly adapting. One minute, she’s a bona-fide action star in the sci-fi series Dark Angel and the powerful Susan Storm in the Fantastic Four film series, and the next, she’s taking a (small) step back from acting bit to raise her daughters Honor, 14, and Haven, 11, and son Hayes, 5, with husband Cash Warren. But becoming a mother didn’t diminish her superhero status — in fact, she’s been helping countless of moms and babies since the launch of The Honest Company in 2012, a brand of natural baby and beauty products that are sustainable and enjoyable to use.
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SheKnows caught up with the L.A.’s Finest star over the phone to chat about Earth Month, the hardest parts of motherhood, and the importance of kindness — to others, yourself, and the world we live in.
On the Most Challenging Part of Motherhood
Just when you think you know your baby, they change — and you have to learn what they like to eat, how they like to be swaddled, and what their favorite rocking position is once again. According to Alba, motherhood is one big guessing game.
“It’s just how rapidly the kids grow and how quickly what they need from you changes. Almost weekly, daily,” Alba tells SheKnows about the thing she finds most challenging about being a mom. “And for me, it’s showing up for each one of them in the way that they need me to in that moment. That’s kind of hard because they’re all in such different places in their lives.”
Yes! If parenting came with a manual, this is what we would want included: how do you keep up with your kids’ constantly evolving selves and show up for them over and over again?
“When they’re little, you’re just trying to keep them alive,” she adds. “It’s more about just cuddling them and nurturing them, and making sure they get their sleep and they get fed. That’s pretty much it. When they get older, they’re much more nuanced. And, yeah, it has to change. Every day it’s sort of different. They’re growing, living, evolving beings, so yeah, it definitely changes.”
It is so hard, especially when you are, you know, juggling your own life too.
“And then I have work responsibilities. Work in entertainment, work at Honest, and then I have my parents and my brother and my husband and his family. And it’s a lot,” Alba continues. “And of course my friendships and they’re all very different. So it’s just kind of showing up authentically with exactly what they need from me is tough. And I don’t always get it right.”
“I, at least, set the bar that I’m not perfect,” she adds with a laugh. Hey, she’s just being honest! “And I’m a work in progress just like they are. And they can cut me some slack when I don’t always get it right.”
On Practicing Sustainability at Home
One thing that’s a work in progress at my home? Teaching my kids about sustainability. But for Alba, the important thing is to lead by example.
For her, this means examining products and companies that she brings into the home: “I think though their sustainability products, and I try as much as possible to have more sustainable products, from even the food products we bring in the house to reusable containers. And instead of plastic water bottles, having aluminum or glass or reusable. Just try to mindful of all of those things.”
And she also teaches her kids not to be wasteful. Just like our kids, her kids are very familiar with hand-me-downs. “Honor grows out of clothes and then it gets passed down to Haven instead of Haven buying brand-new stuff every time,” Alba tells us. “And Hayden even inherited some of Honor and Haven’s clothes.”
“I do a lot of like sharing and trading with those types of things like clothes or other home items. We try not to make anything just go to waste,” she adds.
Although the kids typically do well with the hand-me-downs and turning the lights off when they leave the room, there is one thing that’s not smoothsailing for Alba. “They kind of sometimes fight me on the candy or packaged goods,” she admits. “I’m like, ‘Hey, maybe try the more natural-leaning chips instead!’”
It’s a hard sell, we get it, kids!
On Teaching Self-Confidence
When it comes to helping her daughters find their inner self-confidence, Alba approaches it like everything else: starting with the inside.
“I try to emphasize the things that really matter,” she tells SheKnows. “Like how do you treat people? How do you make people feel? Are you kind? That’s really what makes a good person. Not stuff that you can’t control, which is like physical appearance.”
She adds, “I try to emphasize the soul or the heart of the person versus the physical person. Also, kindness. Just how far that really goes when it comes to whether you’re genuinely going to be happy or not.”
It’s also important for her kids to learn about hard work. Alba tells her kids, “If you aren’t great at a sport, practice and you’ll get better. You can really only be in control of the work you put into it. And if you practice more, you’ll get a little better at it and it’ll make you feel good.”
And in the time of nepo babies and checking your privilege, the Sin City star was ahead of the game. She focused on one lesson early in her daughters’ lives to keep them grounded: “You aren’t always going to be great at everything all the time.” It’s a good reality check for everyone!
“And also, how boring would that be if you were awesome at everything all the time?” she continues. “You get so much satisfaction when you work and study and get a good grade. Or you work, and you couldn’t hit your forehand that well, and now you’re nailing it every time in tennis. And it just takes practice, and you feel much better about yourself.”
“I try to encourage them to work through things when they’re not naturally great at them,” she adds. “That always builds confidence.”
On Raising Grounded Kids
Although motherhood is constantly changing, one area that Alba feels good about is the way she’s raised grounded kids.
“I think for the environment that my kids have been raised in, and the privilege that they have experienced that I didn’t grow up with, I think I’ve been able to navigate it in a way where the kids feel like genuinely good, grounded, kind people,” she tells SheKnows.
And she has the receipts to prove it! She often gets positive feedback from other parents and teachers on her kids’ behavior. “I even had someone come up to me whose son goes to preschool with Hazy, my little one, and she’s like, ‘He’s always so kind, and he’s always so nice with the teachers, and he’s always so considerate, and he’s always saying this and doing that and helping the other kids.’ It’s so sweet when you get that feedback because it was like out of nowhere. She didn’t have to say that about him.”
“And also with Haven and Honor, it’s usually the teacher feedback of how they’re considerate of other students who may be struggling or considerate of other people,” she adds. “They don’t believe the world revolves around them, you know? They have empathy.”
On Choosing Clean Beauty Products
“I try to teach them how important it is to have a routine and being consistent with it,” Alba shares about her daughters’ skincare needs. “Wearing sunscreen when you’re out in the sun, so pretty much daily for them as they’re out in school and they play tennis. They wash their face every night.”
Since Honor and Haven were so little when Alba founded The Honest Company, they can’t remember a time before “clean ingredients” was a new concept. “I’ve always been really verbal about clean ingredients and using things that don’t have bad chemicals in them,” she explains. “And when they’re like, all my friends use this and it’s vegan. I’m like, that doesn’t mean anything. Vegan doesn’t mean it’s natural or its better for you or clean or nothing. It just means there’s no animal byproducts in it. I try to educate them even on that. Because that can be kind of confusing.”
If you can think back to 2012 (Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was a number one song and Barack Obama was still in his first term in office), the idea of sustainable, clean beauty products didn’t really exist. We just weren’t thinking about the chemicals in popular brands, despite using them on our faces and bodies every day.
“Prior to Honest, there really wasn’t a consciousness that consumers can take their health into their own hands,” Alba shares. “There really wasn’t a category of like clean ingredients or clean products. It really kind of helped create or pave this category.”
“Now you can’t go anywhere without a clean beauty section or a clean product section in any kind of store environment,” she continues. “And it’s because I was fortunate enough that when I launched this concept of Honest, that a lot of consumers were like me, and they wanted to trust that the ingredients inside of products were going to do what they say, but also weren’t going to make them sick or harm them in some way. That’s just a pretty basic value that everyone should be able live by, and it just wasn’t available prior to Honest in the same way.”
Even though her kids were too little to remember the launch of the Honest Company, Alba hopes they take away the basic message of following their dreams and helping others at the same time.
She says, “I hope my kids see that they can have an idea, they can create a solution, and they can be part of making the world a better place in their own little way.”
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