Think Dirty

… but just don’t jump to any conclusions!

With October having drawn to a close, one might be forgiven for thinking the scary season was behind us, but that’s before I learned about Think Dirty.

Founder and CEO Lisa Tse launched the Think Dirty app in Summer 2013, with the intent of educating and empowering “the consumer on the cosmetics industry by allowing them to make an informed decision on what products to purchase.” Tse offered that, while many products are labelled as organic or all-natural, she found little transparency in labelling of personal care and cosmetic products.

On her website, Tse and Think Dirty suggest that women use, on average, 12 such products daily and that, if each such product contains an average of 14 chemicals, that amounts to exposure to 168 unique chemicals daily. Men, according to Think Dirty, use six such products daily. With this app, you can scan products in your home or while out shopping, and receive Think Dirty’s outline of toxicity impacts in three categories:

  • carcinogencity
  • developmental and reproductive toxicities
  • allergies and immunotoxicities

I’ve taken Think Dirty for a test drive, scanning some of the skin creams, cosmetics, hair and other personal care products in our home. After scanning a product, you’ll see a “Dirty Meter” reflecting the three categories above, and can explore “Ingredients” and “Cleaner Options”. The app provides the capability to search 12,722 products but, in some instances, it didn’t find a given UPC/bar code and proceeded to invite me to submit that product – by typing in the product name and brand, and providing photos of the front and back packaging – for Think Dirty scrutiny.  If you try the app, you’ll find yourself encouraged to sign up for further options and to build product lists and “likes”.

An alternate approach, suggested by a highly pragmatic person I know, applies to food as well as cosmetic/personal product ingredients: if, for reasons other than lack of familiarity with Latin, you can’t pronounce the ingredient list, don’t use the product.

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