"Skin Deep" Database Provides Details on Safety of Skin Care and Cosmetic Products

By Rachel Walden — May 2, 2011

The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, a free online database maintained by the Environmental Working Group, provides information on the safety and potential harms of ingredients in make-up, sunscreen, facial cleansers and moisturizers, contact lens solutions, shampoo, nail polish and remover, baby wipes, soaps, and creams, toothpaste, fragrances, and other cosmetic and skin care products.

You can browse by cosmetic category or search for the name of your favorite product to find out about possible hazards in terms of cancer risk, reproductive toxicities, and allergies. Information is also provided on companies’ animal testing policies. The directions and ingredients listed on each product label is listed, and links are provided to other similar product types and products from the same manufacturer. You can also read others comments and leave your own on specific product pages.

Because in some cases there may not be much testing data on particular ingredients, the amount of available data is labeled, such as none, limited, fair, or robust. Information is provided on whether the data come from a single or multiple animal studies (which may be of limited value for humans), or if there is strong evidence of potential harm in humans.

Sources of data used for the assessments and the methods for computing scores are provided at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/site/about.php. Thus, you can see how the assessments and ratings are derived in a pretty transparent way. For the fellow librarian readers, yes, I sent them a suggestion about the Hazardous Substance Data Bank!

I love the idea of a database like this, because it’s often difficult to know how “safe” any particular product is. I personally don’t have the appropriate background in toxicology to assess how accurately the potential risks of common ingredients are described, so I’d love to hear from readers with that expertise. I’ll also leave it to commenters to talk about why it was necessary for the “men’s” products to be in their own segregated section of the site. 😉

4 responses to ““Skin Deep” Database Provides Details on Safety of Skin Care and Cosmetic Products”

  1. I love the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, I use it constantly along with the book ‘Cosmetics Unmasked: Your Family Guide to Safe Cosmetics and Allergy-Free Toiletries’ by Stephen and Gina Antczak. Also from referring to these so often I’ve got a better knowledge of what groups of products do what, so it makes checking ingredients on conditioners, facial cleansers, moisturisers, etc. in the supermarket a lot easier.

    We check the ingredients on the back of our foods every day, more people should be doing this with toiletries too, start questioning the use of harmful ingredients and questioning marketing of miracle beauty products. There are serious environmental and health concerns over such products, plus many ingredients are actually more harm than good when it comes to beauty (e.g. SLS’s in shampoos drying/damaging hair, -cones in conditioners preventing moisturising of hair, etc.). More people should be toiletry ingredient savvy.

  2. Thanks for this important blog piece. I encourage readers to check out http://www.safecosmetics.org to link to the Skin Deep database and learn about what we can do to change our broken system that allows carcinogens and endocrine disruptors into products we use daily!

  3. The skin deep database is fantastic for finding reliable info on ingredients, I’ve found it to be very useful – it helps to skip the fancy marketing some skin care companies employ, and get straight to what matters – the ingredients! Thanks for sharing this 🙂

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