Resources for Cosmetic Ingredients – Who’s Your Go to Guide?
More times than not, the customer that is searching for natural or organic hair, skin, and beauty products are trying to ascertain what products are free of chemical harm. They care about what ingredients have been used and have gained some sort of general knowledge on what should and should not be included in product formulations. Thirsty for knowledge, these customers often wonder what online resources are available to help them in their choice of safe ingredients on the product label.
Sandy Moon founder of Organic Moon is frequently asked this question, and her answer aligns with the company’s mission: to educate customers so that they may become informed buyers. Many businesses may be inclined to use such an inquiry with a hidden agenda of recommending their own products; my sincere recommendation is to draw upon multiple resources for the most accurate ingredient questions. Transparency is key to earning your trust!
Everyone wishes that there was an easy answer. But unfortunately, there is not a singular website to turn to for all your ingredient questions. Some sites offer outstanding information on ingredients, however, may not provide unbiased cosmetic product reviews. There are pros and cons to every website and identifying the flaws can require a little extra digging. Educating the public on these positive and negative qualities cultivates a society of capable customers. Customers who can then rest assured that their decisions on safe products are based on scientific fact, rather than opinion.
This is a tricky discussion to tackle, and only recently have people begun to publicly debate the credibility of the EWG. Not many businesses wish to be on this company’s radar. But since this source is still a popular choice among customers as a cosmetic safety reference, it undoubtedly needs to be discussed.
The EWG is a non-profit organization that has been around since 1992. The Group’s website describes their mission “to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment” by using “breakthrough research and education.” The EWG’s Skin Deep Database was created to be a helpful resource to judge the safety of cosmetics. By searching a product name or specific ingredient, customers can see a toxicity rating and a brief description of the chemicals used, as well as their side effects. The ratings are given a number between one and ten, ten being the most dangerous. Obviously, the mission is something we can all stand behind, and the idea of creating a tool to help educate customers on what is in their favorite products is certainly something to be commended.
Perhaps the number one flaw with the EWG’s Skin Deep Database is that it is not backed by much science at all. Most of the research is merely opinion, with no documented data to support the number ratings of a product’s ingredients. Want proof? Look no further than the EWG’s list of “Best Moisturizer’s with SPF.” This list is the EWG’s pick of 125 sunscreens that have been deemed safe and effective. On the list is Yes to Cucumbers Daily Calming Moisturizer, SPF 30. This product is given the proud rating of 1, but the reasoning behind this score makes no logical sense.
In the ingredient breakdown, numerical scores are given to each ingredient, and below each number, one word is written to describe the amount of scientific data supporting each score. All 18 ingredients found in the moisturizer were given a safe numerical score, never exceeding a 2. As for the data to support those ratings, only 2 ingredients, water and sucrose, had a decent amount of data to support the EWG’s scores. The other 16 ingredients had “fair,” “limited,” or “zero” amount of data to back up safety scores.
Clearly, the site has some work to do with supporting the strong claims it has made regarding the safety of its featured products. This flaw is unfortunately consistently found across the database, which features reviews like the one above on approximately 79,000 products.
EWG is a broad organization, and Skin Deep makes up only a small portion of the organization. While some of the site’s information can be helpful, consumers should not use it as a sole source of information to determine the safety of cosmetic products.
Here is a list of three helpful resources:
Cosmetic Ingredient Review – http://www.cir-safety.org/ingredients
This site is helpful for understanding the chemistry behind ingredients and their safety. All information is backed by scientific documentation made visible to viewers.
Cosmetics Info – http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org
This site is beneficial for those looking to search for products by name to get unbiased, science-based reviews regarding the safety of your favorite cosmetics.
Ingredient Information & Regulations – http://www.safecosmetics.org/
Since 2004, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has used smarts and sass to pressure the cosmetics industry to make safer products. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics coalition, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (formerly the Breast Cancer Fund), works to protect the health of consumers, workers and the environment through public education and engagement, corporate accountability and sustainability campaigns and legislative advocacy designed to eliminate dangerous chemicals linked to adverse health impacts from cosmetics and personal care products.
Have you found any resources based on science that you use to search ingredients? Share them with us in the comment section.
Until next time remember, “Your Skin Deserves Love Too!”