The conventional wisdom about the US FDA is that it needs to be rebooted; companies are not required to test their manufactured goods for safety nor even effectiveness.  In addition all products have hidden legacies: that is how they impact the environment, our health, ecosystem, and the people that actually make them.  This starts the moment ingredients are extracted and is called the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).  Manufacturers have always had access to this information.  Now thanks to Skin Deep (skin care products) and Good Guide consumers can get a more complete picture of a specific products impact on their health and the environment to determine its real cost beyond the sale price.

Skin Deep (www.cosmeticdatabase.com) focuses solely on cosmetics.  They say they pair ingredients in more than 42,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases to determine the safety and effectiveness of consumer goods.  The rating system is simple: Low Hazard 0-2, Moderate 3-6, High Hazard 7-10, but they provide the details of why they arrived at their assessment.  The searches are not limited to products, you can check ingredients as well.  My OMG moment came when I read about a sunscreen that aside from being expensive, carcinogenic, and environmentally toxic, was ineffective.

Good Guide (www.goodguide.com) covers a greater range of categories – Household Chemicals, Toys, Food, organic and vegan products as well, and Personal Care which covers over-the-counter meds.  Their evaluation includes health performance, environmental impact and the social consciousness of the manufacturer.  My OMG moment was learning that Dean Foods producer of Horizon Organics had a complaint filed against it by The Cornucopia Institute because the company does not meet organic standards.

Both Skin Deep and Good Guide make it clear that using “expensive is better” as a purchasing guideline can be detrimental to not just your health but also the environment’s.


Debbie Jones-Steele

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(Images: from Flikr, Marzk)