“Think Dirty” About Your Personal Care Products
Understanding what we put into our bodies has become top of mind given current concerns about carcinogens in our food supply and the negative health implications of genetically modified products. When shopping for groceries it’s fairly easy to make informed decisions about what products to purchase since food labels clearly itemize ingredients thanks to industry regulators like the FDA. While eliminating unwanted items from our diet is now straightforward, it turns out that trying to decipher the contents of what we put on our bodies is a more complicated endeavor.
It’s no secret that cosmetic and personal care products are not as well regulated as the food industry. What this means to US consumers is that products like shampoos, creams, lotions and makeup may contain ingredients that could be toxic to humans, unbeknownst to consumers. So how do we avoid selecting products for daily use that contain unhealthy chemicals hidden behind elaborate names without the equivalent of ingredient labels? Enter “Think Dirty” – a free mobile app that helps us navigate the ambiguous and often perplexing world of personal care and beauty product labeling. Launched a few years ago, Think Dirty synthesizes personal care and cosmetic ingredient data effortlessly and removes the guesswork for consumers from the equation.
Here’s how it works. Type in a product name in the search bar or scan a product’s barcode to view a breakdown of the chemicals used and see how they stack up in terms of potential harm to the body. Using information pulled and consolidated from various different public databases, the app’s “Dirty Meter” will give your product a score from 0 to 10 (10 being the dirtiest, inducing a skin-crawling urge to immediately toss the product in the trash) based on the inclusion of certain carcinogens, allergens, as well as developmental and reproductive toxins. Not only does this clever app provide explanations including the science behind why an ingredient is toxic and links to associated research, it also suggests “cleaner” alternative products you can purchase (with one click through to that product on Amazon of course) if your product is on the “dirtier” side. With additional features such as “My Bathroom Shelf” which aggregates all of your personal care products and assigns your “shelf” an aggregate score, it is easy to become a more educated consumer. We love this app and wonder if this new level of transparency will compel personal care companies to “clean” up their acts?