Cleaning Out Your Bathroom Cabinet

Friday, August 5, 2016



In my quest to be eco-friendly/minimalist (for me these two easily go hand in hand), I have been thinking a lot about cleaning up my personal hygiene and beauty products.

This has been one of the more difficult areas for me to change, because I have little knowledge or experience with natural cosmetics and personal products.  In the past, I have mostly sought out inexpensive beauty options.  Also, the organic/natural world of cosmetics and personal hygiene products is fraught with controversy and product packaging and claims are often misleading.

Can I add one more difficulty of finding natural cosmetics and personal hygiene products? Everyone has preferences for what they like best, so what I might love, you might not.  When I read reviews of a product that tons of people liked, there is no guarantee that I will love it, and I might pay $30 for a bottle of natural shampoo that I end up hating, which is a fairly big and expensive risk.

Obviously, I have been all in a tangle about how to best replace my current mainstream products with some more natural alternatives.

Thankfully, in the last week, I have discovered 2 apps that are quite eye opening and have been helpful as I have begun to navigate these rough waters.

The first is called "Think Dirty®" (I kind of hate the name...), and the second is "Healthy Living."

They have similar functions and the interface on each of them is relatively similar.  The interface is actually pretty fun to use, because it takes the camera on your phone/iPad, and uses it to scan the barcodes of products around your house and at the grocery store, and brings up the exact product and information about the product, including ingredients, a ranking, risk factors and on "Think Dirty," they give you a list of alternative product options.  It is pretty cool.

The apps rate products slightly differently, and I thought it might be helpful to show you the difference between the apps through a few examples.  I tried to use a few products that I had lying around, whose brands you would recognize.

1.  Pantene Pro-V Dailey Moisture Renewal Shampoo:


Healthy Living App:
Score: 5 (1 being the best, 10 being the worst)
Main Concerns: Allergy
Main Ingredient Concerns:  Fragrance (8), Methylisothiazolinone (7)

Think Dirty App:
Score: 9 (1 being the best, 10 being the worst)
Main Concerns: Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity, Carcinogenicity
Main Ingredient Concerns:  Fragrance (9), Cocamide Mea (5)
Alternative Picks:  76

2.  The Honest Company Face + Body Lotion

Healthy Living App:
Barcode didn't bring anything up, but when I searched for it, it found the 2013 formula (I don't know if the formula has changed since then)
Score: 1
Main Concerns:  None
Main Ingredients Concerns: None

Think Dirty® App:
Score: 3
Main Concerns: Allergies
Main Ingredient Concerns: None
Alternative Picks: 64
3.  Tom's of Main Fresh Apricot Deodorant:

Health Living App:
Score:  3
Main Concerns:  Allergy
Main Ingredient Concerns: Fragrance

Think Dirty App:
Score: 3
Main Concerns:  Allergy
Main Ingredient Concerns: None
Alternative picks: 31

A few other things that I noticed about the apps.  Think Dirty® has WAY more products in their database (over 500,000 vs Healthy Living's 128,000), which is super helpful.  You can also add your own products if they don't show up (they will rate them later, I guess).

The Healthy Living App also does food.  You can search for Nutterbutters, for example, or other types of food.  I am not sure what all they have there, but it looks pretty cool.  I haven't used the food function much at this point.

Of course, an app can't do everything for you (if only it could), so I definitely think that you have to look more deeply than the rating on some of these.

For example, fragrance is seen as a big, bad mark on both of these websites, because companies are not required to disclose what kinds of fragrances they are using in their products (either synthetic or natural), so both apps automatically assume that it is the worst kind (apparently some companies can include up to 300 different kinds of natural and synthetic fragrances in just one product).  That is kind of lousy if every other ingredient is okay, but the product happens to be scented.  Suddenly a product you love is ranked at a 9, because of it, whether or not it actually deserves it (Like I said above, fragrance is trade secret, so it is more of the FDA's fault than the app).

Also, there are some ingredients that are considered toxic on other relatively reputable websites, but have a '0' rating on both of these websites (sodium lauryl sulfate, I am looking at you!).  I am not sure why that is.

Despite these flaws, I am thrilled that there are a few companies that are trying to educate consumers about their consumption choices, and holding companies accountable for what they put in their products.

I am thinking about doing an ongoing series about great, natural personal hygiene products and cosmetics...  I have a few already that I have been very impressed with, and would love to share what I love about them, if anyone is interested.  Let me know in the comments if that would be helpful.  If you already have another resource for finding clean, natural beauty products, I would love to hear about it!

Also, I was curious if any of you have used these apps and what you think about them?  Do they help you be a more informed consumer?

Have a great weekend!

19 comments

  1. Try beautylovesnature. She is on instantgram. She is into healthy natural and organic. She is also our granddaughter.

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