Thanks to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit and non-partisan organization “dedicated to protecting human health and the environment”[i], its Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database provides consumers with a plethora of information to help protect oneself from the persistent, everyday exposure to a vast array of chemicals in our environment. Such chemicals unfortunately include the countless, unregulated ingredients appearing in cosmetics and personal care products today.
Launched in 2004, the Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database provides profiles for approximately 2, 101 brands and 70, 693 products in approximately 130+ product categories.[ii] Using manufacturers, online retailers/websites and product packaging as sources of information about any and all ingredients contained within such products, ingredient lists obtained are then cross-referenced with information in close to 60 toxicity and regulatory databases.[iii] Such research then yields online profiles for numerous products, including any potential hazards and health concerns associated with their ingredients.[iv]
The profiles are easy to navigate as a viewer. For each product in the database, an Ingredient Concern summary is provided, using a rating scale of Low, Moderate or High.
The Ingredient Concern summary may include, but may not be limited to, the following categories:
Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity
Allergies & Immunotoxicity
Other Low, Moderate or High Concerns
*Furthermore, below the Ingredient Concern summary, each ingredient known to exist in the product is also listed, along with any concerns pertaining to the individual ingredient. Each ingredient possesses an individual score as well, rated on a scale of 1-10; 1 being ingredients of low/nonexistent concern and 10 reflecting ingredients of high concern. As such, it is in the best interests of consumers to seek out the lowest-scoring products possible.
The EWG also communicates to the viewer that the ranking/score is based on the data available for the product or ingredient, using terms such as Limited, Fair, Good and Robust to describe the depth of product or ingredient information available for review. Consumers must keep this mind when reviewing products on the database.
According to the EWG, the most up-to-date products show up first in searches; products that have been in the database for more than 3 years are marked as “old formulation” and if the product has not been verified within the last 6 years, it is removed from the database.[v]
*Particular products possess a green, EWG Verified™ seal of approval, communicating they:
avoid EWG’s ingredients of concern
good manufacturing practices[vi]
Presently, 970 of the 70, 693 products on the database are EWG Verified™.[vii] To learn more about this standard, click here.
The EWG aims to “fill in where industry and government leave off”, with a mission to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment”.[viii] With such a lack of ingredient regulation with regards to both cosmetics and personal care products, the Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database is a practical and highly useful tool that allows consumers to make informed decisions about carefully-reviewed products. Consumers may then boycott products not serving themselves nor the environment, advocating for higher-quality products and helping to shape transformation in the marketplace.
I encourage you to peruse the database and conduct an experiment, by entering those cosmetics and/or personal care products you utilize most often. If not conducting a search about a product you are presently using, you may use the main navigation bar to search by product category, so as to see options for swapping what you’re presently using for a cleaner product. Allow the data available to help shape your future health-related decisions, as you desire. You deserve nothing less!