Think Dirty App Shows Just How Dangerous Your Favorite Lipstick Can Be


We often think about the chemicals and additives added to our foods. Most people actively seek out organic when they can afford it because we all want to know that what we are putting into our bodies is safe and non-toxic. But what about the toxins and chemicals that we put on our skin?

Did you know that neither the law nor Food and Drug Administration regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products? In fact the federal law designed to ensure that personal care products are safe has remained largely unchanged since 1938. Even though skin is our largest organ and is meant to keep our insides safe, it is most likely to come in contact with (and absorb) hundreds of chemicals a day, mostly from beauty products. The Environmental Working Group estimates that women use 12 personal care products a day, exposing themselves to 168 chemical ingredients. And these chemicals can do some scary stuff. Just last year Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer allegedly caused by using the company’s Baby Powder and other products that contained talc for feminine hygiene. This was considered a landmark case for those fighting against the chemicals in cosmetics, but just take a look at your face powders, highlighters, blushes, and eyeshadows – there is a good chance that they all contain talc.

Consumers deserve to know exactly what they are putting on their body and what the potential effects are. All cosmetic products are required to list their ingredients in order from highest concentration to lowest on either the packaging or on the product itself. The thing is though, most of us did not major in chemistry and therefore do not know what Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Methylparaben, or DEA-Ceryl Phosphate are (these are just some of the ingredients in Laura Mercier’s best-selling Tinted Moisturizer) and we definitely do not know what harm they could potentially do if used longterm. Luckily, Think Dirty is here to help us all become a little smarter about the products we decide to put on our faces and bodies.


Lily Tse developed the app herself out of frustration in the cosmetics aisle. Due to family history of cancer, she decided to research into the many causes behind breast cancer, including ‘toxic’ ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products. The app’s information and recommendations are based on information from a number of sources, including the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which has long kept track of the known and potential impacts of personal care products. You simply plug in or scan a product and the app will give it a rating from 0-10. Zeros are reserved for the best and the cleanest products, while tens are something the app highly suggests you avoid.

After giving a product an overall score, you can then see exactly what ingredients are giving the product such a high (or low) score and exactly why each ingredient is ranked how it is. For example, Rimmel is one of the best-selling drugstore brands and its Stay Matte Powder is one of its best-selling products. Think Dirty gives this powder a “10”. Its worst ingredient is Butylparaben, which is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics. Think Dirty lists its health impacts as “Toxic to reproduction. Hormone Disrupter. Carcinogen.” Oh, and it also includes talc. This is scary stuff that consumers are just not aware of. We think, “Why should we be concerned about this sort of thing? The government wouldn’t allow companies to sell us products that would hurt us, right?” But sadly, this is not the case. Luckily there are apps like Think Dirty that are letting consumers learn about dangerous products, while also offering cleaner and safer alternatives. And this does not mean everything from the drugstore is toxic. My favorite micellar water from Garnier earned a respectable “4” and I feel that it is safe enough for me to continue using longterm. My roommate introduced me to the Think Dirty  app a few years ago and recently I have decided to really commit to purchasing cleaner products. This app will not only help consumers make informed choices, but also hopefully encourage beauty companies to rethink the harmful ingredients they put in their products.

Rimmel’s Stay Matte Powder’s Think Dirty page

*Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored in any way. All thoughts are my own*

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