If you want to be super vigilant about skin care and makeup safety, the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a website you should check out. EWG, or The Environmental Working Group, is a non-profit company that aims to “expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions.” Aside from skin care and cosmetic safety, EWG.org also offers health info about cell phone safety, pesticides in produce, drinking water safety, etc.
EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
On the EWG Skin Deep website, you can search for your favorite skin care, makeup, hair care, body, sunscreen, nail and baby products to see how safe they are according to EWG. The safety standards of EWG are extremely high, so don’t be surprised if most of your favorite products get a “hazardous” rating. The company gathers scientific data on thousands of skin care ingredients and then determines their possible toxicity. They look for ingredients that could possibly be linked to cancer, allergic reactions, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, etc. This sounds extremely scary, right?
EWG Shopper’s Guide
Here are some sample tips the EWG recommends: Avoid products with fragrance, parabens, triclosan, and sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate. Avoid anti-aging products with lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid. Avoid the skin lightening ingredient hydroquinone, don’t use hair dye with ammonia or peroxide, and skip hand soap with triclosan.
Don’t trust claims like “Dermatologist-trusted,” “natural,” or “organic” to necessarily be true. In sunscreen, skip the ingredient oxybenzone, and make sure you use a sunscreen with at least 7% zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I do agree with these tips!
My take on the Cosmetics Database
I’ve been researching products on the site for the last few years. I find it helpful that each ingredient in a product is given a hazard score, and then the overall product receives a score. For sunscreens, I just noticed the site now gives you a rating on the effectiveness of a specific product’s UVA and UVB protection, as well as the sunscreen’s stability. Awesome!
Now as much as I find the Cosmetics Database helpful, I personally don’t follow all of the safety warnings, and some of the products I use are deemed moderately hazardous, or even worse. Why am I so cavalier? Even though a lot of ingredients are linked to horrible things, that doesn’t mean the amount of the ingredient in your favorite product is enough to necessarily cause any harm. I am more concerned about the ingredients, pesticides and contaminants in the food I eat, for example. The website deems fragrance as extremely hazardous, and it should be avoided by anyone that has fragrance allergies, but the website also gives perfumes an extreme hazard warning. I don’t wear perfume so I don’t care, but do you really think all women will suddenly give up perfume?
The other reason I personally don’t follow all of the advice given by EWG is because I’m vain and I want to use anti-aging products that work well, which means I will use glycolic acid from time to time for wrinkles, and I’ll dye my hair with regular ammonia-based hair dye. I feel like there are enough toxins in the world to get me, and using a little wrinkle cream isn’t going to be what kills me. But I don’t completely disregard the site’s advice and ideally would like to only use products that are low hazards.
What should you do?
If you are concerned about skin care and makeup safety, absolutely look on the website for low hazard products. The site lets you search by category, and you can sort by score to find the safest products. If you are worried about your children, the site is a great way to find safe children’s sunscreens, soaps, baby shampoo, etc. Recently the site came out with their EWG 2010 Sunscreen Guide which rates the safest sunscreens, and it gives you sunscreen buying tips.
What do you think of the EWG cosmetics database? I know a lot of people use it because I get comments about it all the time.