The average American is said to use nine personal care products containing more than 126 different ingredients every day. When choosing products we use on and around us, is it best to choose the product with less ingredients? Or the product with the most natural ingredients? What about simply choosing a product based on the packaging claims, like “hypoallergenic”, “all natural” or “dermatologist recommended”?
The importance of choosing the right product increases exponentially when making the choice for our children, and — let’s be honest — reading the label of any product can be dizzying. GoodGuide is here to help.
GoodGuide’s health rating scores potential health impacts associated with the use of a product. Our team of scientists and technologists use publicly available ingredient data to evaluate products against four broad classes of indicators:
- Human health impact indicators provide information about the potential health effects of a product: What degree of health concern do a product’s ingredients pose?
- Data adequacy indicators track whether the information needed to assess health effects is available for a product: Does an ingredient list include generic names for constituents (like “fragrance”) which make it impossible to screen the product completely for chemical hazards.
- Other negative aspect indicators provide information about how a product is produced and regulated: Are any of its ingredients banned or restricted? Does its production involve the use of “bad-actor” chemicals targeted for phase-out? Does it contain contaminants from its production process?
- Product management indicators identify whether a company or its products are managed sustainably, based on third-party certifications that verify health or environmental performance.
The need for healthier products
Toxic Ingredients: Children’s products are too often formulated using chemicals that have some evidence of health hazard. But the level of concern varies, based on the strength of evidence that a chemical is associated with different health hazards as well as the level of chemical exposure associated with typical product use.
GoodGuide Tip: Our health ratings consider the number of potentially problematic ingredients in a product, sorted into three levels of health concern: low, medium and high. The best products score 10 – they contain no ingredients with health concerns and have no generic components. Products with high concern ingredients score 0 or 1 on our health scale, while products with a single low concern ingredient score 8.
The case for precaution: Given the variety of chemical ingredients in baby products, consumers are rightly concerned about how little is known about how these chemical mixtures can affect growing infants and how lax regulatory controls are over baby products. The case for precaution is the strongest with baby products.
GoodGuide Tip: Use the GoodGuide filter to select fragrance-free products. Often found in personal care products, fragrance is a catch–all generic term on ingredient lists that can conceal chemicals tied to allergies, hormone disruption, and neurotoxicity. Look for products from companies that state their products do not contain phthalates or parabens. These compound classes contain specific chemicals that have been linked to health concerns like cancer and developmental problems.
Your best recourse to protect your family from potentially harmful chemicals found in everyday products is to be informed — and that’s precisely why we started GoodGuide. We make it easy to find products that match your specific needs, whether you are trying to avoid a particular ingredient, steer clear of allergens, demystify marketing claims, or simply make the best choice for your family.
Let us know how you are using GoodGuide to make healthier choices.