ewg vs think dirty app // ocholisticbeauty.com

EWG vs. Think Dirty Apps

If you’re into safer beauty and non-toxic living, no doubt you’ve heard of and used the EWG Healthy Living and Think Dirty apps to aid your decision-making process.  I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there is quite a discrepancy between the ratings given for products between the two services.  Have you wondered why? I did some digging and thought I’d share the results with you.


EWG Healthy Living App


Company Mission:

Ratings for more than 120,000 food and personal care products, now at your finger tips.


Methodology (From EWG):

Skin Deep presents two ratings for products and ingredients, a hazard rating and a data availability rating.

•The hazard score, a 1-10 scale from low to high hazard, reflects known and suspected hazards. A product’s hazard rating can be higher than the sum of its parts, if, for example, the product contains chemicals called “penetration enhancers” that increase the amounts of ingredients that soak through the skin.

•The data availability rating – none, limited, fair, good or robust — reflects how much scientists know – or don’t know – about an ingredient’s safety.

Consumers should take both factors into account. EWG recommends products with low hazard scores and at least “fair” data availability.

EWG provides information on personal care product ingredients from the published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government. The product ratings indicate the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in the product – not the product itself – compared to other product formulations. The ratings reflect potential health hazards but do not account for the level of exposure or individual susceptibility, factors which determine actual health risks, if any.


What’s Great:

  • Having an app on your phone is very convenient when shopping and trying to determine which products are safest for you and your family.
  • Companies can apply to be EWG Verified, meaning they are free of EWG’s ingredients of concern, they fully disclose all ingredients and follow good manufacturing practices



  • Some products are not listed at all.  I have looked for ratings on some very popular, high end brands and they are no where to be found.
  • If the product is not voluntarily listed on the app, you have to create your own report.  For the report to be completely accurate, you’d need to know the percentages of each ingredient in the product make-up.
  • Sometimes products have a lower or higher hazard score due to limited availability about an ingredient’s safety.
  • According to the FDA, “It is the manufacturer’s and/or distributor’s responsibility to ensure that products are labeled properly,” so the accuracy of the safety data is only as accurate as the manufacturer’s label.  It’s basically the honor system.

Think Dirty App


Company Mission:


Think Dirty® app is the easiest way to learn about the potentially toxic ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care products. Just scan the product barcode and Think Dirty will give you easy-to-understand info on the product, its ingredients, and shop cleaner options!



We assess the overall risk of a given product based on the potential health impacts of its published ingredients. Each ingredient listed on the product label or manufacturer’s website is evaluated for documented evidence of Carcinogenicity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity and/or Allergenicity & Immunotoxicity.


What’s Great:

  • As with the EWG Healthy Living App, it is super convenient to be able to scan products and determine whether or not they are safe.



  • The app’s users do not get access to accurate information and true comparisons because of the current scoring methodology, the lack of context about company policies, and the fact that brands that fully disclose ingredients are compared with some companies that are not disclosing all of their ingredients.
  • Some of the ingredients in Think Dirty score a 10 (High Hazard) due to one or more studies indicating they may be allergens.  Unfortunately, just because one person may be allergic, it doesn’t mean and ingredient is dangerous to the entire population.  Think about peanuts.
  • Some ingredients score high in the app due to potential impurities.  They do not take into account the fact that companies can obtain certificates of purity from their suppliers ensuring that their ingredients are not contaminated.
  • Preservatives also score high (which in many cases this is warranted), but if a company uses any water in their product, preservatives are necessary in small amounts (usually less than 1%).  This should be taken into account because not using preservatives also poses a health risk.
  • Like EWG, this type of scoring system could unintentionally incentivize companies to hide high scoring ingredients from their ingredients lists and penalize companies who are being completely transparent.  Again, the FDA leaves it up to the cosmetics companies to ensure they are labeling properly.



I think both companies are doing their best to aid consumers in choosing safer products for their families and that is admirable.  Both have definite room for improvement, so it is important to understand how they are rating products so you can draw your own conclusions.  Use them as tools, but don’t take their scores as the be-all, end-all.


Which do you prefer, EWG, Think Dirty, or another resource altogether? I’d love to chat about it in the comments!


  • Lise
    Posted at 06:49h, 08 August Reply

    I love your interpretation of the apps. This movement recently seems to have gone a bit on the extreme side! For Gods sake I survived lead paint, tide detergent, and Lots and lots of dairy products and Gluten!
    Lol, God knows what else. And think dirtys list of foods is incomplete! I do the best I can regarding clearly offensive products, I buy strictly organic food if possible. I use cosmetic products that are natural as possible, but I won’t live in a glass bubble! I so far prefer EWG because the seem less alarmist!

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