Cultivated Revelations

A conscious lifestyle blog

Think Dirty App: How to Know if Your Beauty Products are Safe

When I heard about the Think Dirty app a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued and excited. After learning, years ago, that beauty and personal care products can contain potentially harmful chemicals and ingredients, I began to scour the ingredient lists of all the products I’d buy. However, it’s hard to know what’s good and what’s bad! I mean, I understand the big ones: parabens, sulfates, petrolatum and aluminum (all ingredients that are very common in beauty and personal care products, but have been shown to have direct links to cancer or other scary health side effects.) Beyond that, I’m kind of lost. You might even be lost with those ingredients alone! It’s difficult to keep up, and the U.S. has the least amount of regulation than almost any country in terms of what is allowed to be in personal care products. Other countries have a slew of banned ingredients that are a-okay by our standards….scary. So, we can’t rely on companies to make the right decision. Really, we can’t trust that something is safe just because it’s available for purchase. I wish we could, and maybe someday we will. So, every time I buy a new product, I kind of just look for the shortest ingredient list and then cross my fingers and hope I’m making the right decision. Well, I won’t be doing that any more with Think Dirty! It does a lot of the work for me. It’s a free app, and its motto is: “Think dirty, shop clean.”

Not only does the app give an overall 0-10 score for each product (you can scan the barcode or do a manual search for any product), but it also breaks down the information. This is why I love the app. If you’re looking for a quick score, you’ve got it – but I almost never take things like this at face value; I’m a skeptical person, what can I say? So, I love that the app also gives detailed reasoning why a product got a bad score. “Dirty” ingredients are grouped into one of three categories:
1. Carcinogenicity
2. Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity
3. Allergies & Immunotoxicities

After scanning or searching for a product, Think Dirty breaks it down into three tabs: the first is the “dirty meter” to show which categories are the worst culprits; the second is the “ingredients” tab to show extensive details about the names it’ll go by, the concerns about the ingredient, and also sources. The third tab is “our picks” where the app makes suggestions for safe alternatives to the product you’re looking into.

Cultivated Revelations - Think Dirty App Review   Cultivated Revelations - Think Dirty App Review   Cultivated Revelations - Think Dirty App Review

Scanning in all the products I use currently, I knew most of them would score high on the dirty meter, but I was surprised that a few products weren’t bad, or not nearly as bad as I anticipated. Some products that are really high I won’t be using any more and some products that score around a 5, I’m going to continue using. It all depends.

Here’s where a few of my favorite products score, and what my thoughts are on them:

Burt’s Bees Ultimate Care Body Lotion with Baobab Oil: 5
This is a product I would have been REALLY sad if it had scored super high. I have very dry skin, but am really picky about lotions. This is the only lotion that I love, and I’ve purchased dozens of tubes of it over the years. A score of 5 was sort of disappointing to me, but after reading through the report, I’m going to keep using this product – for now. It scored moderately high for potential allergies & immunotoxicities, as two of the ingredients have been shown to cause allergic reactions in some people, etc. These potential risks don’t concern me, so I’m not mad about this score.

EOS Lip Balm: 0
This score really surprised me! I thought for sure this trendy and mass-produced products would score much higher. Excuse me while I continue to apply this product 14 times per day.

LaVanila The Healthy Deodorant: 0
I was nervous that this would have scored higher. Deodorant is the one product that scares me the most. It’s something I, and most people, use every single day, but the aluminum in antiperspirant varieties can be really dangerous, linked to both cancer and Alzheimer’s disease… a risk I’d rather not take if I don’t have to. I’ve tried lots of natural deodorants, some horrible and some just okay, but this one is amazing and I LOVE the way it smells. I’m super happy about this score.

Lush No Drought Dry Shampoo: 9
Ouch. All the dry shampoos I scanned scored a 9 (I also scanned Not Your Mother’s brand and Pssssst! brand) for different reasons. The biggest culprit in these products is “fragrance.” Think Dirty scores products from companies that don’t have a clear “fragrance” policy pretty high, because there is a potential that companies can use this ingredient to hide some scary and harmful components. It’s a loophole, really. Read more here. I thought the Lush dry shampoo would score lower than the others, but it didn’t because it’s made with Talc, which is a highly potential carcinogen if used in certain ways, or if it’s inhaled. Since dry shampoo flies everywhere in the air while using it, I definitely have inhaled lots of it. Scary. I won’t be using this guy anymore.

What do you think about the Think Dirty app? Will you be looking into your favorite products’ ingredients? Tell me in the comments!


  1. I’m going to have to check this app out. I’ve been using GoodGuide for EVERYTHING and it’s really changed the way I shop for products.

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