What’s the Score? A Consumer’s Report on Cosmetics

by Sarah Laue

Have you ever stopped to wonder, “What is in the products I use every day?” Or, “Are there chemicals in this that may cause a long-term affect to my health?” This is where the questions started for me, and they have only continued as I have progressed deeper in my understanding of our cosmetic industry and regulations – or lack thereof.

I am not an expert; I am simply a person who is passionate about healthy, environmentally conscious, simple living.

I have thought for years that any reaction my skin was having to a certain lotion or body wash was just simply me having sensitive skin; however, with time, I now understand that it is actually my skin having a reaction most likely to an ingredient or chemical in a product. I started becoming more conscious about the ingredients that are in the products I am using, especially considering the fact the I am placing these products on my body, using them on my teeth, putting them in my armpits, or on my hair/head knowing that they will then seep into my blood stream and be broken down by my liver.

Let’s talk about our livers for a second, shall we? What an amazing organ! It is the primary organ involved in breaking down every toxic ingredient or substance our body encounters, if the liver is not functioning properly, these unwanted substances tend to accumulate in the body and can potentially lead to toxicities or liver failure. I am not saying that using products with chemicals is going to lead to liver failure, but I am saying that we have to take care of our livers and understand that our liver has to breakdown everything we come in contact with.

After researching many common ingredients found in personal hygiene products and understanding the dangerous implications these ingredients can have on our health, I decided to start over with my personal stash. Easier said than done. I wasn’t quite sure where to begin, until I was introduced to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the amazing resources they provide. If you are not familiar, you won’t regret taking some time to navigate their website.


EWG’s Skin Deep Mobile App

Recently, the EWG developed a free mobile app that is amazing. It’s called EWG’s Skin Deep. The app is designed to rate every consumer product with a Product Score: “For every product and ingredient there is a two-part score; a hazard score and a data availability score.” What does this mean? The hazard score is based on a 0-10 scale for scoring the ingredients in the product; 0-2 is green or low hazard; 3-6 is yellow or moderate hazard; and 7-10 is red or high hazard. The data availability score reflects how much is known about the ingredients in a particular product. Lastly, the app also takes the two-part score and lists any health concerns based on the ingredients in the product, commonly you see the score divided into three sub-categories; Cancer, Developmental/Reprotoxicity, and Allergy. I have noticed additional health concerns appear most commonly with sun screens.

I personally am trying to only purchase items that score a 0-2, low hazard score; aside from loving the aspect of scanning everything in the cosmetic isles, I feel very confident about what I am using on my body and feel educated about the ingredients that make up the products I choose.

So, my question to you is, “What’s the score of the products you’re using?”

Cheers to happy, healthy, livers!

Sarah Laue was born and raised in Michigan. After meeting her husband in Marquette while attending Northern Michigan University, they decided to settle in Grand Rapids. There, she is striving to live a healthy, balanced life of being environmentally conscious, socially aware, and nutritionally and spiritually fed. This is her first contribution to Michiganders Post.


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