Informed Beauty

There are known harmful (or, at very least, questionable) ingredients in many health, personal care, and beauty products, and the current regulating bodies don’t do as much as you’d think to protect consumers. We all know we can’t always trust big corporations to look out for our best interests: especially when there is huge demand for products that perform consistently, that have super long shelf lives, that bring shareholders a decent margin, that are packaged and dispensed in ways that are easy and convenient for people, and so forth. The onus really falls on us as consumers to do our own research.

Here are a few resources I’ve discovered that will help you research what’s in the products you use and love, and make informed decisions about whether they deserve a coveted spot in your home. I consult as many of these sources as possible when researching ingredients for myself and to share in my reviews – I encourage you to do the same.


Think Dirty

Format: App (iPhone, Android)
Products in database: 12,000
Rates: Potential links to cancer, reproductive or immune system toxicity, and allergens
How it works: Think Dirty will pull up a “dirty meter,” which gives you a health impact rating between zero (harmless) and 10 (serious health impact) on each rated category. From there, you can check out the ingredient list on a particular product, and find out what each is used for and why it’s a threat to your health.
Sources: International government warning lists, peer-reviewed studies, and nonprofit health and science agencies like the European Union Health Commission and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Highlights: Think Dirty’s founder is a designer by trade, so the app is sleek and chic, gives several product recommendations, and makes it easy to keep track of your most (and least) wanted cosmetics in easy-to-use lists.
Cost: Free



EWG Skin Deep

Format: Website database, App (iPhone, Android)
Products in database: 78,000
Rates: Potential links to cancer, developmental or reproductive toxicity, and allergens
How it works: Each product gets an overall rating of how much of a health threat it’s considered to be (zero being harmless and 10 being a serious concern), and a low, medium, or high label for each of the three categories of cancer, allergens, and developmental or reproductive toxicity. It’ll also pull up a quick-hit list of the worst ingredients in question, or let you sort them by low, moderate, or high concern level.
Sources: The Environmental Working Group’s database of potentially hazardous ingredients and products that contain them, which the organization has been building for the past decade.
Highlight: Their huge database means you’re likely to find the product or ingredient you’re looking for.
Cost: Free



Other Ingredient Research Resources

Paula’s Choice Skincare Ingredient Dictionary Ingredient Database

Truth In Aging Ingredient Index