Often reading a beauty product label feels like attempting to decipher hieroglyphics. You basically need a post-graduate degree in chemistry (and a five-hour lunch break) to even begin to make sense of it.
But two new tools launching this month will help simplify the process, so you can make smarter decisions and avoid toxic ingredients, whether you’re in the drugstore or department store.
Forward-thinking, non-toxic brand Beautycounter recently launched a pocket-size version of its awesomely to-the-point “Never List,” and the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database will debut a mobile app later this month.
“This is wonky, deep stuff here, but it’s where the rubber meets the road,” says Beautycounter’s vice president of health and safety, Mia Davis. “It’s how we’re making sure people don’t have to compromise health for beauty.”
Here’s what you need to know about these game-changing label-reading tools:
Beautycounter, a relative newcomer to the clean beauty world, practices an intense ingredient screening process. The research team evaluates every single potential ingredient based on the available data, important health endpoints like cancer and reproductive toxicity, and much (much) more. So far, it’s banned about 1,500 ingredients from its own products.
The new “Never List” is a condensed version of that all that know-how—a business-card-size cheat sheet designed for you to print out and keep in your wallet. It singles out the worst-offender beauty ingredients the company believes should be avoided whenever possible—no matter what brand you’re buying. “It’s meant to be a tool that people can take with them when they’re doing their own research, or when they’re in the drugstore,” says Davis. “Our mission is to get safe products in the hands of everyone.”
The Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep Database has become a go-to resource for healthy types shopping for everything from sunscreen to mascara. But until now, it was hard to look up a product while browsing beauty brands at Bloomingdale’s (well, anywhere). The Mobile App solves that problem, with barcode-scanning capability that will allow you to wave your phone over a product and get an immediate score.
EWG is working on getting barcodes for every product into the app, but not all of them will work from the get-go. However, if the scan doesn’t fly, you can search by product name to access the entire database from your iPhone. —Lisa Elaine Held
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