Is Your Makeup Safe? 2 New Apps Help You Find Out

Making an informed decision about cosmetics and personal care products just became a whole lot easier—thanks to the development of two new apps that will deliver specific product ratings and ingredient information right to your fingertips, literally.

“When you’re in the store, before you’re actually deciding whether to buy something or not, you really just have a window of about two to five minutes to make a decision,” says Lily Tse, founder of Think Dirty, a free app launched this past August that’s available in the iTunes App Store. Think Dirty aims to help facilitate that decision.

This unique app allows users to scan various product barcodes and gain access to a wealth of information on the safety of particular products. It rates personal care and cosmetic products high on the “dirty meter” if they contain ingredients that are possible or known carcinogens. Other rating values are assigned according to developmental, reproductive, and allergy toxicity levels. The Think Dirty app also includes games and trivia.

In addition, Think Dirty just wrapped up its “30 Days of Dirty” campaign in which the company donated $1 for every product scanned by consumers—it raised a total of $18,000 for The Breast Cancer Fund.

Why the big concern over the safety of personal care products? Currently in the U. S., no pre-market testing is required for cosmetics and other personal care products (and their ingredient lists), which means that Americans can be exposed  to over 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, some of which are being increasingly shown to cause ill health effects. This issue puts consumers’ health at risk, as well as that of the environment as product waste can eventually impact local ecology.

To help educate—and protect—consumers, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) started its Skin Deep online database in 2004 that today lists and rates over 78,000 cosmetic and body care products, from baby shampoo to sunscreen and nail polish to deodorant. “It’s been an eight-year effort for EWG to develop the breadth of the products we cover and it is the most comprehensive list and rating of cosmetic products on the market—and available on the web,” says Michael Cervino, EWG’s Chief Technology Officer.

On November 17th, EWG will make its behemoth online database even more accessible with the debut of its new Skin Deep App, which will be available for all smart phones (Androids and iPhones). Via barcode scanning, this app will deliver a clear profile of a product’s ingredients, plus a product safety rating, including any known health hazards.

Cervino explains, “As part of the development of the app, EWG has done several rounds of user-experience testing with its target contingent, primarily women ages 35 to 55 who are the consumers of personal health care products for themselves and their families.”

Interested in learning more? Sign up here for the Skin Deep app and learn more about its features.

Reflecting the growing consumer interest in eco-health awareness, these apps provide solid answers to how safe—or not—the personal care product being considered really is. Both apps also have innovative features, including the recommendation of alternative (and safer) products plus built-in feedback mechanisms, so if a product does not already exist in the database, it can be analyzed and added, growing the list of products continuously.