Sometimes, beauty is pain. But beauty—and cosmetics specifically—can also be chemicals like phthalates, parabens, and polysorbates.
Cosmetics aren't regulated with the same level of rigor that food and drugs are. One 2012 analysis, for example, revealed that 400 different shades of lipstick contained trace amounts of lead.
And like many other personal-care products, make-up tends contain those brobdingnagian, unpronounceable ingredients. Like, say "propylparaben," a component of this L'Oreal felt tip eyeliner, which the Environmental Working Group says can cause reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption.
In fact that entire Environmental Working Group site can be quite helpful for deciphering cosmetic compounds, for the paranoid and/or scrupulous lady about town.
A new app called Think Dirty, from Toronto entrepreneur Lily Tse, builds on the work of the EWG and others by making it easier to analyze the ingredients in cosmetics as you shop. The app recognizes nearly 70,000 different products and rates them on a "dirty meter" from 1 to 10. The higher the rating, the more toxic the beauty product.
"To get information, you scan a barcode or search from a product list," Fast Company's Ben Schiller wrote. "The app will give a rating and suggest a cleaner product if the one before you is on the dirty side. You can also make product lists, and get an average dirtiness score for items in your bathroom cabinet."