There was a time when my bathroom counter was littered with cheap beauty products. I don't mean cheap in the financial sense of the word (I love a good deal as much as the next person), but cheap as in low quality. I had an abundance of waxy lipsticks, poorly pigmented eye shadow palettes, and harsh skincare products. The lure of a buzzy, nicely packaged product was enough to distract me from a chemically laden ingredients list. It wasn't until an allergic reaction to a powder blush that I realized my routine was basically the opposite of clean and streamlined.
It wasn't healthy.
Nowadays, I'm much pickier. I need to know a product is safe and effective. This sounds easy, but it's not. It takes some serious research, and, consequently, time, which I don't always have. That's why I was so stoked to stumble across a genius app that rates beauty products by safety. All it takes is a barcode scan or search query to know whether a product is truly helpful or harmful. Keep reading to learn why you need to get the GoodGuide app.
Allow me to introduce the GoodGuide. It provides information on over 75,000 consumer products and their social, biological, and ecological effects. It combines "manufacturer-provided information about product ingredients" with "authoritative information on the health effects of chemicals," so you know exactly which chemicals are coming in contact with your body. It's trustworthy information, too, as it was developed by a team of product and chemical information experts over the course of 10 years.
It works by utilizing a 10-point scale. "The GoodGuide Rating was developed using methodologies that are grounded in the sciences of informatics and health risk assessment. Products are scored from a low of 0 to a high of 10. The higher the rating, the better the product from a health perspective." You simply search, browse, or scan for a product, et voilà, a rating appears.
If you're interested in why a product received a particularly low rating, you can delve deeper, learning which exact ingredients are to blame. If you do so, it will pull up a bevy of similar products that are formulated without it, making it easy to replace harmful with healthy. There are also filters that make it easy to search for vegan and cruelty free products. Are you starting to see how cool this is, yet?
Start with a product. For me, it was my beloved Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castille Soap ($16). I use it religiously as a face and body wash. The peppermint oil makes for an invigorating scent and feel, plus it's insanely effective at ridding my skin of all surface impurities. I could wax poetic about it for days, but suffice to say, it's major. I simply typed in the name and the rating popped up: a six. A six on the GoodGuide scale isn't too shabby; the two ingredients flagged were citric acid and hemp oil, both of which are considered "low-level" health concerns because they are restricted from cosmetic use in Canada.
I was happy; I compared this rating to those of other cleansers I had used in the past, and it was a significant improvement.
Next was one of my all-time favorite designer fragrances. I've been obsessed with it for years, but alas, the GoodGuide was not. It was given a zero. Zilch. I did a little more digging and found that there were actually a lot of popular perfumes that were given relatively low scores. That's probably because companies aren't required to list out every ingredient that goes into a perfume; instead, they can group the collection of ingredients under a vague title of "fragrance." This might make it hard to learn just what exactly you're spritzing on your skin, but it doesn't necessarily mean that all fragrance is chemical-laden.
Take Calvin Klein's Eternity ($24), for example. It was given a six, which isn't too shabby, especially for one of America's most popular fragrances. But take it from me, even if you happen to learn the unsettling truth about a beloved product, it's worth it to know what you're putting in contact with your body. This is exactly why I went through my makeup bag, product by product, to find the overall cleanliness of my routine.
On average, my beauty routine (encompassing skincare, makeup, haircare, oral care, and "bath, soap, and shower") scored about a six. In all honestly, I was content with that; it proved that my efforts to clean and streamline were working. And it's only going to get better from here since I have access to the app's list of (what I call) perfect 10 products. These are products that scored a perfect GoodGuide rating, free from all harmful ingredients. You'll be happy to know that "clean" and "effective" aren't mutually exclusive.
That's something I wish I could tell my teenage self. Hmm, if only this was around five years earlier…