Toxic Beauty


The rise of awareness about the food we eat and its direct impact on our health continues to expand, and it is gaining momentum in our area. Diving deeper into health and wellness, and how our everyday choices affect these, we looked at beauty and personal care products. In the era of bloggers and social media influencers, our decisions are significantly manipulated by the messages we get daily in our social media feeds. That gorgeous video blogger whose complexion looks perfect has tested so many products, she knows what she’s talking about. Or the celebrities showing us their beauty routines, with whom we feel an intimate connection because we comment on their posts and they even reply sometimes, we listen to them. Of course we will buy what they recommend. But what exactly are we putting on our skin?


Our skin is the largest organ in our body and the first line of defense from the environment. It is a living system that breathes and absorbs what we place on it. Do we nourish it with natural, organic products that are in harmony with our biology, or are we adding dead, artificial ingredients and chemicals? What we put on our skin ends up in our system, just like the food we eat. It has an effect on our brain chemistry, our hormonal balance, and even in the likelihood of developing disease. Are we making safe and informed choices? Is it enough that a product is expensive? What if it says “natural” and “organic?” How can we tell if a product is “clean?”


The Think Dirty® App is a wonderful resource to have on your phone if you want to immediately obtain feedback on the products you are contemplating buying. You scan a product’s barcode, hold for a few seconds, and, voilà! The app provides a rating number and color (from Dirty to Clean; red to green), a list of ingredients and their individual toxicity number rating, and on an adjacent tab, Think Dirty® shares their recommendations for similar products. That’s it! It is amazingly simple to use, yet invaluable in helping you navigate your journey toward cleaner, safer beauty and personal care products for you and your family. In cases where you scan or search for an item, and it is not found on the app’s database, you have the option to enter it manually. You will then have submitted a new product that Think Dirty® will rate and add to their database for future reference. Additionally, you can personalize your experience, by adding items to different lists, such as My Bathroom Shelf, Dirty Products, Clean Products, Products I Liked, Kitchen Cleaners, Baby, and more.

How or where do we even begin replacing our current “dirty” products with cleaner ones?


“For someone starting their journey to using cleaner products, the best way to begin is to learn to read labels,” said Lily Tse, founder and CEO of Think Dirty®.

“Stick with products that have a shorter ingredients list, [which] usually means less fillers and preservatives. It is important to switch at a pace that’s appropriate for your budget and comfort level. For those who want to do a complete overhaul with a limited budget, we recommend simply replace items that you are about to replenish first. That will help you slowly phase out products you would like to throw out.“


The purpose of Think Dirty® is to help consumers identify the potential risks associated with the personal care products they use every day. Think Dirty® considers it best to focus on the chemical content of the products they review, rather that “greenwashing,” or considering a manufacturer’s social or environmental responsibility to falsely lower a product’s toxicity rating.


“We assess the overall risk of a given product based on the potential health impacts of its published ingredients,” Think Dirty® states. “Each ingredient listed on the product label or manufacturer’s website is evaluated for documented evidence of Carcinogenicity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity and/or Allergenicity & Immunotoxicity.” This is what the app’s Rating Scale, or Dirty Meter, looks like:

While there are many factors to look at before deciding if a product is “clean” or “dirty,” the following list includes absolute toxic ingredients to avoid, rated 10-7 by Think Dirty®, and present in popular brands of beauty and personal care products.

  • Fragrance/Parfum
  • Petrochemicals
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Formaldehyde-releasing agents
  • Siloxanes
  • Sulfates
  • Non-biodegradable ingredients


Considering going deeper into living a healthier life by making more mindful choices when it comes to everyday beauty and personal care products, even household and cleaning products, can quickly become overwhelming. The Think Dirty® App simplifies this process and is a true sidekick when it comes to helping you make more informed purchases, and even offers their best-rated suggestions for similar products that we can buy directly from the app. Our skin — the largest organ in our body — is the first line of defense from the environment, but it also needs our care and support. Making gradual but consistent changes in the products you apply to your skin, or what you come in contact with, such as laundry detergent and household cleaning products, produces exponential positive changes to overall health and wellness in the long run.