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Want products with clean ingredients? There’s an app for that

Savvy shoppers who are committed to using products that meet clean criteria are finding ways to narrow down true clean beauty products.

In theory, everyone wants to use “better for you” products, but whether the average consumer is willing to put the time and energy into finding those products can be the deciding factor. Think Dirty, Sephora, and Target are making it easy for consumers to find products with clean ingredients.

Finding clean beauty products can be hard to navigate. A universal definition is not available, so consumers may feel they have to figure it out for themselves. But savvy shoppers who are committed to using products that meet clean criteria are finding ways to narrow down true clean beauty products.

One way is through the Think Dirty mobile app. This exceptionally convenient method allows consumers to scan barcodes of beauty, baby and kids, wellness, and household products while they are in-store and get a breakdown of the ingredients as well as an indicator from the proprietary Dirty Meter as to how clean the ingredients are.

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think dirty beauty box

Think Dirty originated in 2012 after founder and CEO, Lily Tse’s mother developed breast cancer and Tse learned about how toxic ingredients found in personal care and beauty products could contribute to female-specific cancers. Today, Tse says there are 6.5 million users in more than 33 different countries.

The Dirty Meter provides a number from 0 to 10 for each product, with 10 being the worst rating and 0 indicating there are no known toxic ingredients in the item at the moment of rating. In addition to being able to get the Dirty Meter rating by scanning the product barcode, users can also search for the item. Every ingredient is listed individually and there is an aggregate overall product rating.

Tse says the criteria they use to measure whether ingredients are clean is based on lists of ingredients to avoid from the FDA, Canada’s Ingredient Hotlist and the European Commission’s CosIng database. In addition, ingredients that have been identified and published as allergans by the FDA are also included.

Tse also made the point that clean ingredients don’t have to necessarily be natural — there are cases where synthetic ingredients don’t have negative implications and are better to use because natural resource depletion and sustainability concerns can be avoided.

Another option for shoppers is the “Clean at Sephora” collection. The retailer has curated an assortment of products that contain:

  • No phthalates
  • No formaldehydes or formaldehyde-releasers
  • No oxybenzone and octinoxate
  • No hydroquinone
  • No triclosan
  • No coal tar
  • No methylisothiazolinone
  • No insoluble plastic microbeads

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think dirty iphone mockup

The full list of ingredients that are prohibited or restricted can be found here.

Just as the Think Dirty app doesn’t stop with beauty items, likewise, Target, in addition to their clean beauty selection, extends Target Clean to include other categories such household essentials, baby, feminine care, and pet. The list of excluded ingredients of Target Clean symbol beauty products appears on their website.

Tse is excited about a new Think Dirty feature — currently only available on Android phones but coming soon to iPhones — which allows premium Think Dirty app users to set up a personal profile and identify the ingredients they are allergic to or want to avoid. Tse said, “This completely tailors the selection to the individual and makes it very easy for them to find the products best suited for them.” Tse continued, “The idea came from reading user comments. We look at all the user feedback, identify things they are most interested in, and then find a way to meet those needs.”

The Think Dirty Cleanbeautique subscription beauty box also grew out of user feedback. Users were wanting to explore various clean beauty brands, so Think Dirty started curating and offering a subscription box. Shoppers can purchase a one-time box or sign up for a multi-month subscription.

Other new features in Think Dirty include notifications for items purchased that are soon expiring, and, another premium feature, being able to search for an ingredient and find all products that contain it.

For those consumers that define selfcare to extend beyond what they put in their body to what they put on it and use around it, efforts from Sephora, Target, and Think Dirty have made shopping simpler.

Megan Moyer is HRGs corporate marketing manager. HRG is in the details of retail, working with product manufacturers, distributors, retailers, technology partners, and other industry organizations to provide data and analysis, shopper experience, brand development, fixture coordination, and retail communications solutions. HRG reviews new health, beauty, and wellness (HBW) items every month and assesses their potential for longevity in the monthly Products to Watch feature in Drug Store News as well as the annual Future 50 list.

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