Tracking Cosmetic Ingredients
Savvy consumers of cosmetics and skincare products are becoming more aware, and infinitely more informed, about the contents of their products – the good, the bad, and the ugly. But it takes time to research, sort through, and evaluate the information.
Now, information about the ingredients that go into your personal care items is readily available thanks to the growing database established by the Environmental Working Group, currently tracking more than 75,000 ingredients in total.
Established in 2004 in response to a growing concern about hazardous ingredients and formulations, the EWG is a non-profit research and advocacy organization that assigns a ‘hazard score’ to each ingredient. The scoring system rates ingredients from 0-10 based on the potential harm or risk associated with the ingredient (10 being most harmful).
Skin Deep®, the division dedicated to tracking ingredients in personal care items, currently contains information on 8,049 personal care product ingredients, culled from ingredient labels on products and from the scientific and industry literature on personal care products. They assign a standardized name to each ingredient in the Skin Deep database, using the INCI (International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients) standard, with some exceptions where alternate names are more easily recognized by consumers.
Information obtained by the EWG includes a brand name, product name, directions for use, warnings, ingredients, package/advertising text, and indications. Every product added to Skin Deep® is carefully reviewed by EWG staff to identify product type, product use and composition, target demographic, and special product claims.
Skin Deep ® categorizes each product into one or more of 130 product categories (e.g., shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant). These product categories are organized into ten major groups:
- Sun Protection
- Eye Care
- Babies and Moms
- Oral Care
EWG Skin Deep® also grades the amount of research available on every item from ‘none’ to ‘robust’. However, in the interest of public safety, the EWG recommendations usually fall on the side of caution. For example, they might recommend that consumers ‘avoid’ using products containing fragrance, for fear that someone with an allergy might have an adverse reaction.
Now, you can easily research the ingredients in your favorite product and rest assured that the information you find is something you can trust. Visit the EWG Skin Deep® website to access information. Use the 10 categories to search for your product, or type a specific ingredient into the Search Bar and voila!