Join our Mailing List

How Dirty Is Your Favourite Makeup?


Here at Think Dirty, we know makeup is part of our everyday lives (like wearing pants!). That’s why this week we’re putting the Top 10 most-loved makeup products to the test: how clean or (gasp!) dirty are your favourites? Don’t worry – if you use these products, we provide better rated alternatives as well.

#1. Philosophy Purity Made Simple Facial Cleanser


Considered a “holy grail” in the beauty and makeup world, this cleanser is rated a full 10 in Think Dirty app’s Dirty Meter™! With ingredients such as PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate, propylparaben, and imidazolidinyl urea, this cleanser doesn’t seem so holy after all. In it’s place, you can use 100% Pure’s Seafoam Facial Cleanser in Organic Lavender – a product rated only 0! 

#2. Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque


A hair fan-favourite, this deep repair masque actually ranks a hefty 9 on the Dirty Meter™ because it contains the ingredients chlorphenesin and butylphenyl methylpropional. As an alternative, SheaMoisture’s much-loved Organic Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Hair Masque is only a 0.

#3. Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask


Everyone likes to treat themselves to a cleansing facial mask from time to time, but is it worth it with a Dirty Meter rating of 7? Even though 7 is not considered dirty in the Dirty Meter, this so-so score can be easily replaced by a 0 from Dr. Jart’s V7 VitaLaser Skin Perfecting Revitalizer.

#4. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion


Uh-oh – looks like we have another 10 on our hands. You know the drill. This product has four dirty ingredients in it such as peg-40 stearate, peg-10 dimethicone, peg-10 rapeseed sterol, and polyethylene. But have no fear — the Alima Pure Balancing Primer Powder (rated 3) will make sure your eyeshadows will still look great and stay great.

#5. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer


Less dirty than the previous eyeshadow primer, this tinted moisturizer still has a score of 9 from it’s use of propylparaben. As a replacement, you can use the SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Moisturizer from Juice Beauty, which has the cleanest score of 0.

#6. Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara


Another staple in many people’s makeup bags, this mascara pulled a rating of 7 on the Dirty Meter. As popular as it is in mainstream culture, it’s use of triethanolamine, methylparaben, and dimethicone makes it unpopular to us. Instead, try Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Mascara — it only has a rating of 3!

#7. Buxom Full-Bodied Lip Gloss 


It’s easy to throw on some lip gloss when you’re in a rush, especially this lip-plumper from Buxom. But, as we’ve seen from the trend here, this item also has a rating of 7. While not considered dirty by Dirty Meter standards, the product is still so-so. Consider using Vapour Organic Beauty Elixir Lip Plumping Gloss rating of 1 instead for a plumping look that’s both beautiful and safe!

#8. Maybelline Fit Me! Liquid Foundation


We’ve covered mascara, lip gloss, and tinted moisturizer in this makeup takedown — so what about foundation? This Maybelline foundation seems to be a hit in the drugstore category, but is it dirty or clean? Unfortunately, the foundation follows the general trend in mainstream makeup. You guessed it: dirty! With a full dirty rating of 10 from the Think Dirty app, this foundation contains eleven dirty ingredients — yikes! Definitely chuck this one from your makeup bag and try using BareMinerals Original SPF Foundation, which only has a rating of 3. 

 #9. Maybelline DreamLumi Touch Highlighting Concealer


Our second Maybelline product in a row, this rating is equally as disappointing as their foundation. Another full 10, the product only contains one dirty ingredient, butylparaben, but still try to avoid it if you can. You might just fall in love with Aveda Inner Light Concealer rating of 3!

 #10. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush


Last but not least, we know how much you love having a rosy glow on your cheeks. That’s why we chose this much-loved blush to rate last! And sadly, this product is rated a 10 - the full dirty rating. While we were disappointed to see three dirty ingredients in the ingredients list, we weren’t disappointed by the Mineral Blush produced by Inika rating of 3.

So there you have it! The ten most popular makeup and beauty products and our takedown of how safe and healthy they are. As you can see, no product rated lower than a 7. In fact, five out of these ten products were all rated the full 10 out of 10. The next time you shop for new products, make sure to do your own assessment of how dirty or clean your items are. Simply download the Think Dirty app and scan the barcode of your product for a full ingredient list and a dirty rating! Tweet us @thinkdirty or submit a clean fave through this blog, and let us know if any of these alternative organic products end up being a favourite of yours. Remember to Think Dirty, Shop Clean!

Back-to-School: Face the Makeup


September is here and it’s back-to-school time! Whether you’re in high school or university, you’ve probably seen all kinds of promotional beauty and cosmetic advertisements by now. You might even want to try some makeup for the first time to help add a sparkle to your eye or a burst of colour to your lips. But before you do, read this blog post. It will provide to you a list of ingredients to avoid in the 3 most-used makeup items. We want you to look your best and feel your best for your education, so steer clear of the following ingredients!

#1. Concealer

The easiest item to just “grab and go” on a busy day, you might just want to think twice before using. Many drugstore concealers contain a potentially harmful ingredient called propylparaben, an ingredient you should definitely avoid! With a Dirty Meter rating of 9, propylparaben is a preservative and fragrance that disrupts endocrine functions — it has been found in breast cancer tumours and is linked to decreased male reproduction functions.

In the European Union, propylparaben is a Category 1 substance, a substance “for which endocrine activity have been documented in at least one study of a living organism” and is given the “highest priority for further studies.” Propylparaben is banned in Denmark. Yikes! When reading your ingredient label, make sure to avoid any products with this ingredient.

#2. Mascara

It might be compelling to give your eyelashes a boost, but try to avoid that temptation if the ingredients contain mercury.A known neurotoxin, mercury is used as an anti-bacterial agent and preservative in cosmetic products. In 2013, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was held in Geneva. A global treaty to limit the usage of mercury, the convention banned mercury in lightbulbs, batteries, and other devices … but not in mascara. What?!

Passed in 2013, the treaty exempts mascara from the mercury ban because “no effective safe substitute alternatives are available.” However, Stacy Malkan, co-founder of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, contests this decision. According to Scientific American, she says there is no reason mercury should exist in mascara "because most companies already have found alternatives."

#3. Lipstick

You know the old trick — if you’re tired and not looking your best, throw on some lipstick and no one will even notice your dark circles. But is this really the best advice if your lipstick has enough toxins to harm you? 

Turns out the fear about lead is true. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics independently tested 33 popular lipstick brands for lead — and more than half of them contained it. Brands such as L’Oreal, Cover Girl, even Dior. The kicker? None of these brands listed lead in their ingredients list, but the amount of lead their products contained were as much as ten times higher than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit in candy. When the FDA conducted their own study, they found that hundreds of lipsticks contained lead, and Maybelline Colour Sensation contained the highest amount. With the daily application and touch-ups of lipstick, no amount of lead is safe for the body as lead accumulates in our bodies over time.

So there you have it!

The 3 most popular makeup products and their harmful ingredients. You know which drugstore ingredients to avoid — now which healthier alternatives to use? We’ll make picking your alternative products easier by choosing them for you. Here are our favourite recommendations for concealer, mascara, and lipstick. 

100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Brightening Concealer With SPF 20

Dirty Meter™ Rating: 0


Juice Beauty Lash Defining Mascara

Dirty Meter™ Rating: 0


Ecco Bella FlowerColor Lipstick

Dirty Meter™ Rating: 0


New App Feature: Buy Now from Amazon!

You asked we listened. The latest update on iTunes app store allows you to shop directly on Amazon for products that pique your interest. 

Women’s Equality Day: Dr. Emily Stowe

Happy #WomensEqualityDay! Despite the gender inequalities that still exist in today’s society, we are happy to highlight the intellectual and capable women that inspire us. One of which is Dr. Emily Stowe, Canada’s first female doctor and a tireless fighter for women’s rights.

Born in 1831, Emily Stowe (born Emily Jennings) was raised in Ontario. Her mother, an American-educated woman, was so unhappy with the quality of education for girls that she decided to take matters into her own hands - she taught all of her children herself. At 15, Emily followed in her mother’s teaching footsteps and taught in a one-room house for seven years. 

When Emily was 22, she applied for admission to Victoria College and was rejected simply because she was female. It was this incident that sparked her passion to strive for equal rights. Despite her rejection to Victoria College, Emily was accepted to Toronto’s Normal School for Upper Canada - one of the few schools open to women then. Here she thrived, graduating with first-class honours two years later. 

In 1856, she married her husband John Stowe and gave birth to three children over the course of the next seven years. After the birth of her third child, John contracted the respiratory disease tuberculosis. Thus began Emily’s interest in homeopathic medicine, an area of medicine her mother had also studied. Combined with her belief that women doctors were needed immensely, Emily decided to become a physician. Go Emily! 

At 34, Emily decided once again to apply for admission, this time at the Toronto School of Medicine. Once again, Emily had to relive the same fate she received when she applied at 22 - rejection. The reason? "The doors of the University are not open to women", said by the school’s vice-president. 

Rightfully enraged, Emily did not let this stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a physician. Instead, she went to the New York Medical College for Women in the United States and obtained her degree in 1867. Once her degree was completed, Emily came back to Canada and set up a practice in Toronto - becoming Canada’s first practising female physician in the process. 

Dr. Emily Stowe’s story is one of grit, perseverance, and passion. She inspires the Think Dirty team to never give up on our dreams, no matter the obstacle. Happy Women’s Equality Day to all the great women in the world. Please take a moment to thank all of the great women who have paved the way for equal opportunities today. 

Holy Golly! Think Dirty got a double-spread feature :D


We are so excited being mentioned in the debut of this up and coming modern magazine for smart and tasteful women from NYC – Golly

Repost from original piece from Golly Magazine

Beauty Marks by Angela April Sun

First things first: Think Dirty is not a porn streaming service, despite what the name may lead you to believe. Launched in 2013, it’s an inspired app for consumers who are unaware of the harmful chemicals that may be marinating on the bathroom shelf.

Think Dirty collects the published ingredients of cosmetics and translates these insufferably suffixed chemicals into easy-tounderstand, hard-to-believe toxicity ratings. Even better, the app is very user-friendly, with a database of 111,694 entries and counting. Just scan the barcode of any product with your iPhone or search for it by name if the SKU isn’t handy.

If the product is in Think Dirty’s database, it receives a numerical rating based on the potential negative health impact posed by its ingredients. If you can stomach it, browse the results page for charts detailing carcinogenicity and other risks, a full list of color-coded ingredients, and “Cleaner Options,” or suggested all-natural alternatives to whatever you’re currently using.

Think Dirty is manna for those of us who can’t come to terms with whipping up egg yolk and avocado masks on the regular, but it also serves as an X-ray of the cosmetic industry, revealing just how commonly industrial chemicals are used in our favorite products (and, ergo, on our faces).

In an industry where brand loyalty has a huge impact on purchases, Think Dirty has the potential to change consumption patterns if it reaches a wide-enough audience.

“We have so much faith in the brands we love,” says blogger Sunny Subramanian, founder of Vegan Beauty Review. I think the app’s shock factor is what’s going to get people to be proactive.”

Think Dirty is especially damning for items that are advertised as natural, but still contain some possibly gnarly stuff. Many of Moroccanoil’s offerings rank highly on the “Dirty Meter,” thanks to a few components that could be considered unsavory. Case in point: coumarin, a toxic chemical compound currently prohibited from use as a food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A number of beauty brands have begun categorically excluding chemicals like parabens and sulfates from their merchandise, but those things are apparently just the tip of the iceberg—if we take Think Dirty’s ratings at face value. Toxicity ratings are assessed by health and science professionals and based on the strength of published evidence. Still, the numerical grades don’t account for quantity, as product formulas aren’t typically published.

While Think Dirty is good at identifying potentially toxic ingredients, it’s not quite as good at thinking clean. Despite the app’s impressive database, its alternative recommendations tend to top out at about a dozen brands not easily found at Sephora, local drugstores, or online eco-conscious beauty retailers. For categories like nail polish, hardly any clean alternatives are offered. Given the ever-expanding organic and natural beauty market, this limited selection is probably more reflective of the app’s stringent standards than actual availability.

One of the risk categories by which products are evaluated is titled “Allergenicity and Immunotoxicity.” Offending elements include any proven allergen, which makes mostly innocuous elements like botanical extracts appear to be “dirty” factors. This likely leads to otherwise viable product recommendations being overlooked for brands so pure that they wind up on the margins of the personal care market. Of course, once you know how to work around Think Dirty’s limitations, it’s possible to tweak your beauty stash without doing a complete overhaul. “I don’t worry if a product is rated five or under, but if it’s seven, eight, nine, or ten, I’ll stay away from that ingredient and dig a little further to find out why it is rated so high,” Subramanian says. “It’s a teaching tool.”

Illustration by Bill Rebholz 67



Toothpastes 101


August is National Smile Month, and the Think Dirty team has been hard at work prepping ourselves with our best smiles. That means regular and proper brushing and flossing techniques for those pearly whites – but at what cost? Toothpastes such as the leading-brand Colgate Total contain the controversial ingredient triclosan, and even ‘safe’ alternatives such as Tom’s of Maine uses ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate and fluoride* in their products. What’s an organic junkie to do? Well, the answer is simple. Educate yourself! As consumers, the best way to shop ‘clean’ is to learn about what ingredients we put on our bodies. And that includes our daily toothpaste.

Triclosan has been under scrutiny recently – for good reason – by media outlets such as Bloomberg News, Business Insider, and the Washington Times. While Colgate Total was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997, the actual files of the Total application (which contained their triclosan toxicology studies) were only released this year. One study in the application discovered results that showed “fetal bone malformations in mice.” Other independent studies showed increased cancer risk, endocrine disruption, and triclosan’s ability to possibly be passed onto the fetus from an expecting mother. Thomas Zoeller, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, echoes our main concerns: “when we have studies on animals that suggest [that triclosan is not safe], I think we’re taking a huge risk.”

An antibacterial agent that “slow[s] … the growth of bacteria”, triclosan was actually phased out of all Colgate soap products in 2011. If the ingredient is a possible health risk for our hands, why is it still in our toothpastes?

Because of gingivitis. The company states that triclosan helps fight gingivitis, an inflammatory gum disease, by reducing the “germs that can cause … gingivitis.” But do the benefits of triclosan outweigh the health risks? While more than 80 scientific studies support Colgate’s claim that triclosan is safe, the studies are funded by Colgate – not reviewed by an independent third-party organization. According to Bloomberg, even the strict FDA “relies on company-backed science to show products are safe and effective.” Coupled with the alarming findings of bone deformities in mice fetuses, consumers are now wary of Total’s approval from the FDA.

But discontent is good, as a consent decree has prompted the FDA to reassess triclosan in hand soaps by 2016. In the meanwhile, we hope you’re keeping your smile both big and healthy by avoiding products with triclosan. If you’re looking for cleaner toothpaste alternatives, try out these products instead. Remember to Think Dirty, Shop Clean! 

Korres Spearmint and Lime Total Care Toothpaste 75ml

Dirty Meter™ Rating: 0


Earthpaste Natural Toothpaste – Peppermint

Dirty Meter™ Rating: 0


Kiss My Face Whitening Cool Mint Freshness

Dirty Meter™ Rating: 0


*While fluoride is generally agreed upon to be beneficial, high quantities of fluoride (e.g. a child swallowing a tube of toothpaste) is highly toxic to the body. 

Baby Cologne: Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be


Have you ever smelled a baby? Fresh, clean, and pure, their aroma is simply delicious. Not only is a baby’s natural scent yummy enough to eat, it is also chemically and physically beneficial to the mother and child. A study from University of Montreal indicates that mothers feel a stronger connection to their babies when they can smell their child’s natural scent, as it activates the mother’s neurological reward circuit and creates ‘feel-good’ dopamine hormones. Awesome… right? 

It seems like Johnson & Johnson doesn’t feel this way. Despite all the beneficial rewards of a baby’s natural odour, the ‘family friendly’ company has created a baby perfume to eliminate and replace this scent with their own synthetic fragrance. For reference, here is the full list of ingredients:

Water, Polysorbate 20, Trideceth-9, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Propylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Simethicone, Ext. Violet 2, Blue 1.

The Think Dirty team was originally tipped off to JOHNSON’S® Baby Cologne by a concerned user who wanted to know more about the product. When examined in the Think Dirty app, the cologne ranked 10 out of 10 on the apps’ Dirty Meter – the highest ‘dirty’ rating. Despite being alcohol-free, toxic chemicals still exist in the product. One of the most notable ingredients in the formula is PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, a petroleum-based compound that is commonly contaminated with carcinogens (see: ethylene oxide) in the manufacturing process. Why would anyone risk putting possible carcinogens on their newborn child?

As stated on the Today Show, pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon says: “Babies … should not wear fragrance [as] there are chemicals and toxins … in these products that can cause children to have respiratory reactions.” But the trend is still catching on, as Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari, and Burberry all have their own designer baby perfume as well. Who knows – maybe in the future we will have perfumes designed to hide the natural smell of flowers. But for now, keep your babies away from these so-called ‘safe’ perfumes and use fragrance-free products instead. If you are still on the lookout for cleaner alternatives to Johnson & Johnson, the following three unscented lotions are perfect for you and your family:  


California Baby Everyday Lotion - No Fragrance, 6.5 oz

Think Dirty Rating: 0


Shoosha Truly Organic Replenish Baby Lotion Unscented - 6 oz

Think Dirty Rating: 0


Live Clean Baby Non-Petroleum Jelly, 4.2 oz

Think Dirty Rating: 3 

Remember to Think Dirty, Shop Clean! 

5-Free Nail Polish Ingredients Decoded


With summer season almost over half way, a pop of cherry red nail polish seems like the perfect complement to your summer outfit. See the long line-up at nail salons, you know it’s time to read a bit more and BYON.

We’ve all heard of 5-free nail polishes, but what exactly are those 5 toxic ingredients? In fact, 3 out of those 5 ingredients are so well-known that they are nicknamed the ‘toxic trio’. Here’s what you need to know:

#1. Toluene. The least harmful of the toxic trio, toluene is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is found in paints, thinners, and inks. Despite giving nail polish its ability to dry quickly, toluene is still a harmful chemical. The ingredient is also classified by the California Department Of Public Health Occupational Health Branch California Safe Cosmetics Program as cancer-causing. It is especially dangerous for expecting and new mothers, as the chemical can be transmitted to fetuses and infants through the placenta and breast milk. In Europe, this ingredient is banned from all products

#2. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP). DBP is a carcinogen found in paints, plastics, and pesticides that stops nail polish from being brittle. It is classified by the European Union as a suspected endocrine disrupter and Health Canada has linked it to liver and kidney failure in children. Although this ingredient has been banned in Canadian toys, it can still be used unregulated in beauty cosmetics.

#3. Formaldehyde. Similar to DBP, formaldehyde is also classified as a known human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Cancer. It allows nail polish to harden and chip less, but can lead to fatigue, skin irritation, and immune dysfunction in users. This chemical is banned in Europe.

#4. Formaldehyde resin. While similar to formaldehyde, no link between cancer and formaldehyde resin has been found … yet. (For reference, formaldehyde resin is created by mixing toluene and formaldehyde together.) The resin helps strengthen nails, but is a skin allergen and immune system toxicant that can cause dermatitis.

#5. Camphor. Camphor is created by distilling the bark of a camphor tree. Although natural, inhaling or having large exposure to camphor can be toxic, create irritation, and cause seizures in children.

So there you have it. While it’s almost impossible to use a chemical-free nail polish, there are many toxic-free alternatives that are safer. More importantly, the following companies are “three-free”, meaning that they do not contain the toxic trio.

Here are some of our top picks:


Juice from 100% Pure 


For those who are no familiar with Julep, it’s a company created by two friends who produce “five-free” nail polishes in many dazzling colours. If you love Julep’s products (and their promise to be three-free) as much as we do, you can pay a subscription to receive Maven, a monthly customized beauty box full of five-free nail polishes. 

Whether to wear at home, at work, or at the beach with your favourite summer outfit, we love it when your nail polish makes you feel beautiful – inside and out. Think Dirty, Stay Clean!


Waves filled with trash. 

And it’s getting worse 

and worse.

Trash wave, Indonesia. 


"Awareness" can only go so far. What is needed are simple route to action.

So, Here’s an idea from TM™

Viewers should be able to roll over each product in each of these images of trash in nature.

There, they can find a brand, a manufacturer, etc;

then they can click-to-send a demand for sustainable packaging options.

And they can share it across social media.

List out the worst offenders, and attempt to track it all back.

Do it for all photos, in the pacific garbage patch, etc. 

It’s simple way to activate these photos. If you have the resources and the reach, contact me and I’ll give a free consultation/ blueprint on how to get it done. 

Less talk. More action.


We should also ban the microbead.

All those facial scrubs with ‘Microbead’ cleansers? Just tiny bits of plastic companies put into their products – allowed to wash down drains into the ocean to mess with ecosystems.

Guess they were hoping you wouldn’t notice:

'Polyethylene' is just another word for plastic.


[ Plastic bird from NPR story on Chris Jordan’s photography work ]

Mother’s Day, CFC IdeaBOOST Launchpad, Indiegogo

Mother’s Day is Today!

Spring / Summer is here! Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in the the world! Think Dirty is a project inspired by my mom’s triumph over cancer, so today has special meaning to me. Hope all of you will take a moment to show your appreciation to your moms. For the beautiful weather today, take a stroll out and treat her to high tea in the park would just be wonderful.


CFC IdeaBOOST Launchpad

Last Thurs, I went presented Think Dirty at CFC IdeaBOOST Launchpad event at Steam Whistle Brewery. Being live on stage is not the most fun experience, considered no one will consider public speaking as their favourite thing to do. Based on my friends and audience’s feedbacks, they thought my pitch went smoothly and couldn’t tell at all I have been flying 3 time zones in the past 2 weeks, with only a few hour of sleep previous night. I guess all that rehearsals did pay off in the end. Nonetheless, I was excited to announce our Indiegogo campaign on stage, I meant every word I said:

"Supporting Think Dirty is not just supporting a mobile app, it’s supporting a consumer movement of voting safe products with your hard-earn dollars."

So if you stumbled upon this posting, hope you would support a project that bring health, beauty and consumer advocacy in a meaningful and fun way.


Special offer from 21 Bundles

To wrap up this post, we are also partnering with 21 Bundles to bring you a special Mother’s Day offer. 25% OFF for your first bundle. Their brands are mostly rated 0-3, as well as tailored for new moms and their new borns.


Until next time,