Must-have beauty app: Think Dirty

Think Dirty App

Guest post by Kristen Oelschlagel

We all have our morning skin-care rituals: cleansing, moisturizing, applying makeup—day-in and day-out we slather on products thinking they’re taking care of our skin. But do we really know what we’re putting on (and in) our bodies? Thanks to the Think Dirty app , the answer is only a scan away.

Launched in October 2013 by Toronto-based entrepreneur Lily Tse, Think Dirty scans bar codes of personal-care products in order to analyze ingredient lists so that you can determine if products are safe enough for personal use. “I figured a lot of women have the same problem I do,” says Lily. “Every time I go shopping, I look at the labels. I always have trouble understanding what those chemicals are, and the only options are to ask the beauty adviser, who is kind of biased, or Google every ingredient.”

Easy to use
After hearing about Think Dirty, I downloaded it (the popular app already has 80,000 downloads) and headed straight to my bathroom. I grabbed a product and positioned the bar code in front of my iPhone as instructed. (You can also use an iPad.) After the scan, the app gave my product a rating from 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst. I tried it out on a number of products I use daily—facial cleansers, lotions, shampoo, mascaras—only to find that, except for one, they all got a rating of 10 (that’s pretty dirty!). I can’t say I’m surprised; I’ve never looked at the ingredient labels on cosmetics. If your scores turn out like mine, the app will recommend cleaner, safer products that have a rating from zero to three.

In addition to an overall score, each product is given a 0 to 10 rating in three categories: carcinogenicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and allergenicity and immunotoxicity. The ratings are all based on data from reliable agencies including Health Canada, Environment Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation.

Sorry Android users—Think Dirty is just for Apple products at the moment. But not for long, says Lily. “We will be launching an Indiegogo campaign in early May to hopefully raise funds to speed up the process of developing and testing the app for Andriod.” The Think Dirty team also continually expands its database of products. When using the app, if you come across a product with no results, you can submit it for review.

Why you need to Think Dirty
In Canada, common selling points for personal-care products like “hypoallergenic” and “all-natural” are not legal terms. This means any company can slap that claim on their packaging. Think your face lotion has been “dermatologist tested?” There are actually no regulations in Canada for the number or type of tests required for a product to be labelled as such.

That’s where Think Dirty comes in. The app will list every ingredient in the product, so you can see for yourself whether or not it’s “all-natural.” And it’s not just for women—the 80,000-product database also includes personal-care products for men and children. Lily believes that because skin is so absorbent, everyone should care as much about what they put on their body as what they put in it. “Skin is our biggest organ,” says Lily. “Do the math yourself: The number of chemicals you’re using every year is in the thousands. If you’re being exposed to thousands of chemicals in low-dose long-term exposure, you need to know.”

Getting rid of your chemical-laden beauty products? Try some of these organic and eco-friendly options.

Photo courtesy Flickr/CC Mainstream