My sister Kathy is pretty green; in fact she is the one who got me into green living from a toxics perspective years ago. I was visiting her for the weekend recently, and as it often goes when we are together, our conversation touched on healthy/green news. I mentioned that she might want to check the personal-care product line she uses on Skin Deep, the online cosmetic safety database developed by Environmental Working Group, to see if it is as healthy as she assumes.
Skin Deep pairs ingredients in more than 41,000 cosmetic and personal-care products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind, according to their website. Why did a small nonprofit take on such a big project? EWG chose to develop this database because the FDA doesn’t require companies to test their own products for safety.
Getting started learning about what’s in your personal-care products is really easy with the Skin Deep tool — you can search by product, ingredient or company name and see a product’s rating: 0-2 for low hazard, 3-6 for moderate hazard, and 7-10 for high hazard.
Imagine our surprise when Kathy typed the names of her personal-care products — all of which she bought in health-food stores — into the Skin Deep database, and found that one of them ranked with a high hazard of seven, and another with a moderate hazard of four. The majority, fortunately, were low hazard.
I’ve been saying for a number of years that while genuinely green cleaning products are remarkably green, the same can’t yet be said about personal-care products. Check for yourself. (Note, of course, that most synthetic commercial cosmetic products keyed into the Skin Deep database fare far worse as a rule.)
Another great source for doing some detective work about chemicals in your products is Scorecard. Scroll down to click on “chemical hazard database” on the left.