When it comes to choosing beauty products, what's most important to you? How it looks, what it does or what its ingredients are? Sometimes beauty industry jargon can be confusing, masking a product's true ingredients and effectiveness.
What better way of knowing which product is right for you than really narrowing down what's inside of it? That's where ingredient checkers come in. These handy websites and apps break down the marketing lingo and list all the ingredients that are actually inside your beauty products.
This sparked a discussion in our private Facebook group, The British Beauty Line, where our members discussed which ingredient checkers they use and love. It inspired us to do some deep digging and share the best ingredient checkers with all of you.
Think Dirty App
With over 1.1 million products listed, the Think Dirty app helps you to understand how "clean" ingredients really are. Unlike other ingredient databases, Think Dirty focuses exclusively on the chemical content of the products in question. All you need to do is scan the product barcode and Think Dirty will give you easy-to-understand info on the product—including its ingredients and cleaner options that are available.
Analysis of IT Cosmetics CC Cream.
It might not be the prettiest website, but CosDNA has a great database of popular beauty products. Search for the one product you want and you'll find a list of its every ingredient. CosDNA rates each ingredient for function, UV, acne irritant and safety. The value of these are listed from zero to five—the lower, the better (i.e., the less chance that irritation or acne will occur from using it). The safety index is then listed from one to nine, with the lower number meaning the ingredient is considered to be low hazard.
Analysis of IT Cosmetics CC Cream.
Skincarisma is a super-easy-to-use website that not only lists a product's ingredients but also breaks them down into what they're actually doing for your skin, plus the suitability for each skin type. It then tells you if the product contains parabens, alcohol and sulfates. Unlike other ingredient checkers, Skincarisma also has a section where you can paste the ingredients, meaning they don't necessarily need to have the product in their library for you to analyse it. So handy.
Environmental Working Group
EWG analysis of COOLA sunless tan.
EWG's Skin Deep database currently contains information and online hazard assessments for over 74,000 products. Staff scientists compare the ingredients on product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. EWG gives a low, moderate or high score on concerns like a product's overall toxicity and its ability to cause cancer, developmental or reproductive harm. Whilst this can be somewhat terrifying (i.e., if you find a high score on cancer for your favourite mascara), it's worth bearing in mind the amount of that ingredient that's actually in the product.
EWG is also a good tool to find information on a company or brand's stance on animal testing.
Another app that uses barcodes to quickly scan and analyse products is CodeCheck. It provides transparency regarding the ingredients in everyday beauty products and also some foods. Not only does the app rate possible effects on your health, but it also gives information about how a product's ingredients and packaging affect the environment.
Initially created by Paula Begoun of Paula's Choice, Beautypedia is a website that cuts through the hype of products in order to offer insights on ingredients. The results are compiled by research teams that share scientific research to objectively review skincare and makeup formulations. The Paula's Choice Ingredient Dictionary is also useful if you want a rundown of what an ingredient is, what it does and whether or not it's harmful or irritating to the skin.
So which ingredient checker is best?
As much as each and every one of these apps and websites is useful, when it comes to checking ingredients, citing as many sources as possible is always important. Take into consideration who has sourced the information and remember that for every research paper stating that an ingredient is harmful, there's probably another three stating it's completely safe. It's also worth noting that there are so few "perfect" products out there, so there's often an element of compromise.
Do you use an ingredient checker we've not discovered yet? Join in the conversation over at The British Beauty Line and let us know.
Opening Image: @emmahoareau