Did you know that Personal Care Products ARE NOT required to be tested for safety???
By using the power of information to protect human health and the environment, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) created The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database… the world’s largest and most popular product safety guide along with The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics!
Fabulous FACT: As of this very moment Skin Deep contains readily searchable indexed information and online safety assessments for:
- 63,824 products
- 7,786 ingredients
- 2,748 brands
- 1,859 companies
This database is one of the very reasons you are reading this blog. I came across it shortly after I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year at 31. I knew I had no choice but to lessen the toxic burden on my body… especially since that was something in my control (unlike the plans The Big Guy Upstairs has for me). But OMG, I had NO IDEA it was as as bad as it was though! I thought that in this day and age, in this country… there could be no possible way that these things weren’t tested for safety! I found out that only 13% of ingredients used in personal care products have been reviewed by a self-regulated industry. WHAT??? Meaning it’s on the it’s on the honor-system. Seriously?!
You know you can’t un-know something once you know it- and at that very moment I realized I was a product of the Cancer “Industry” where people profit off of me! Merriam-Webster definition of industry: “a distinct group of productive or profit-making enterprises”. Awesome! Totally don’t remember signing-up for that just because I wanted to be pretty! On top of that, I also found myself in a really tough financial situation after paying for all the fabulous unexpected bills that come along with “The Big C”. The deal I made with myself was that when I replaced necessities, they would be absolute the cleanest and greenest I could find, but they still had to work!
Skin Deep somewhat simplified my life in terms of toxic vs. non-toxic when my body and soul were healing and my mind was on auto-pilot. But then I realized I had whole other issue on my hands… I had no clue if the products that scored low even worked! Honestly, I had never used really natural or organic products before (was unknowingly using fakers) and I, like most- also believed they didn’t work as well as chemical-laden conventional ones.
The difference is that I no longer had the freedom to be careless. My life was now dependant on a crash-course in reading ingredient labels in another language (like oh, say, Latin?) in case I didn’t have enough on my plate! Nobody prepared me for this! I had one shot to buy a product THAT WORKED. I couldn’t afford to buy something more expensive and not use it if I didn’t like it. This is one reason I’m a huge advocate for product samples, even if you have to buy them. The bottom line is that I needed something that was short, sweet and to-the-point… like a review for a product that coincided with Low Database Scores… making it a sort of no-brainer. And so it was… The Glamorganic Goddess was born like the Phoenix out of the ashes (Ha ha, dramatic- I know)!
Ready To Clean Up Your Act?
To search for something on The Database: At the top, type the product, company or ingredient name into the purple search or use the category drop down menus.
What to do if a product isn’t listed? Well, you can enter the ingredients yourself and get what’s called a Preliminary Product Report. This is for your own personal use and will not be indexed for the public to see. I’m not even going to lie… this can sometimes be a royal pain in the booty! You might want to sign up for an account so you can save all of you entires and searches.
You will also need to have a complete list of the ingredients on hand. If you can, try to find the ingredients on the company’s website. If you don’t see them readily available… contact them and ask that they be emailed to you… I am notorious for this. It’s very time consuming and drives me absolutely nuts that these companies don’t post them. I believe in full disclosure, and if they don’t… what are they hiding? Hmmm?
To Enter A Product:
- Look on the left sidebar, under the heading “Skin Deep User Tools” and click on “Get A Product Report”.
- Under “Product Name”- Select a Brand. If it’s not there, select “Not Found…” and include it when you type in the Product Name.
- Type in the Product Name.
- Under “Product Directions” check the “Directions Not Available” box- because it’s really only for you, so you don’t need to type this part in.
- Under “Product Categorization” select at least one Product Category.
- Skip down a few sections to “Ingredients Exactly As Listed On The Label” and copy and paste the ingredients in the last section with semi-colons in between each ingredient. Or… type them in the old fashioned way if you have to, LOL. Good luck with the spelling on that! I’ve totally done it before- and HATED it with a passion!!
- Click “Save & Continue to Step 2”.
- Now, this is where the Database is a little temperamental, because well- it’s a database, not a person. You may have to keep going back and forth between these two steps… for example, on many ingredients lists- it say the word “Organic” before each ingredient that is organic- or has a “*” by it, etc. You will need to remove all of those, and then remember to select them again under the “Qualifying Information” drop down menus (on the right) for each ingredient in Step 3. To me, this is really frustrating!
- Scroll down to the bottom and click “Save & Continue to Step 3”
- Now, if all the ingredients are in the green, and it says “Ingredients With Skin Deep Matches”- you are good to go. Select “Save & Continue to Step 4”
- If there are some ingredients in the red, try to select something from the drop down menus. If there are no alternative ingredient names found under the “Select and Ingredient” drop down menu… copy and paste the ingredient name into Google. It will often give you the Latin name for it, which usually does the trick (but not always). Next, hit the Page Back Button on your Browser and go back to “Step 3” and try it again. :( Yep, FML LOL! I’m usually ready to rip my hair out by this time!! Once everything’s green– click on “Save & Continue to Step 4”. If you decide to say eff it- it will leave the ingredient out and will give you an incorrect calculation of the Hazard Score (usually lower than it actually should score- which is NOT good).
- Now, click on “View Your Product Report”
- PS- don’t forget to add it to your “Favorites Basket” by clicking “Add This Product” on the top left under “User Tools”.
- Ta-da! Your done!
Like Maya Angelou says: “You did then what you knew how to do, And when you knew better, You did better.”
I have to admit that Skin Deep also made my life much more complicated, however I will be forever grateful for it’s existence! I have always been one to dig deeper. I believe the Skin Deep Database should NOT be used as a bible, but as a starting point and a guide. In the beginning I used it as a bible… now I know better. There are definitely several issues and mis-calculations which allow a lot of companies to get by with low scores that shouldn’t, and vice-versa. One example is the 100% Data Gap = a score of “O”, which does not necessarily mean it’s safe, it just means there’s a lack of research! It can be very confusing to say the least. You have to remember that it’s a computer database and not a person- it at least starts “the conversation” about what’s in the products you’re using.
At this point in time, it’s the only source like it that we have to go by. You just need a little common sense to go along with it. The more you use it, (I also Google and compare), the more you will learn and better you will get at it! Believe me- there are days when I get fed-up and just want to be able to walk into a store and mindlessly grab off the shelf. But I don’t have that liberty if I want to stay healthy. I remind myself that we have the right to know exactly what we are buying and using, and that takes time and research because there is so much deception in labeling. How that’s allowed by law? I will never know.
I have also trained myself (with lots of practice) to look beyond the pretty bottles and tune out the marketing claims… going right in for the kill: I read the ingredients first, right after I read the product name. If companies don’t disclose all of their ingredients, I don’t buy it… I vote with my pocketbook! Of course I don’t place ALL of the Cancer blame on Big Beauty- but I definitely don’t think they help the situation. There are much healthier and effective alternatives to the harmful, carcinogenic ingredients used today- but many companies don’t want to cut into their profit margins. How sad? Do they know that their everyday business decisions put my life at risk (yes, over prolonged use, I know- but I followed the directions on their labels)? I didn’t have a choice because I didn’t know. They told me their products were safe. Products made up of carcinogens can’t possibly be safe! I don’t know how these people can look at themselves in the mirror knowing they aren’t doing the right thing. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. I hope they think of me. Bottom line… there’s no valid reason why we should have to go through all of this in the first place! Un-healthy or un-safe should not be able to be sold! No excuses!
Great Article About Navigating the EWG Skin Deep Database from The Bubble & Bee + Me Blog
Thank You EWG, Skin Deep and The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics… I guess nobody said making this change was gonna be easy, they just said it would be worth it! xoxo
AudreyDecember 4, 2010 at 12:44 am
Thank you for the great overview. I share a lot of your frustrations and sentiments. Sometimes it gets overwhelming to try and live more healthily. But it’s all about small changes. I’m hoping that pretty soon all these things will just become habit. I think starting out is the hardest part.
AudreyDecember 4, 2010 at 12:49 am
Sorry, I know I just posted but I wanted to add something else: sometimes EWG confuses me. Like listing apple cider vinegar not as a 0. Is it really that dangerous? Because I eat it on salads and stuff. I’ve always heard of ACV as being really healthy, so it confused me that it had [I think it was] a 2 on Cosmetics Database. Obviously I don’t expect you to know the answer to this, but I guess I just need to vent. And maybe someone else will know why seemingly harmless things like this get less than perfect ratings. So confusing! I guess it’s not perfect, though; just a starting place, like you said.
The Glamorganic GoddessDecember 6, 2010 at 3:46 am
I hear you girl… I wish I understood it all myself! In comparison to many other things in body care products today- I don’t think it’s really harmful. I mean… you can eat it, you know? I personally try not to eat Vinegar though because I heard it causes Inflammation, which isn’t good in my case(I replace any kind of Vinegar in recipies w/ Fresh Lemon Juice, when I can). As far as applying it to your skin, etc… I don’t know. In the big scheme of things, many things out there have got to be MUCH worse for you.