Product Safety Scanner
Who is HowGood?
HowGood is a sustainability research company with over a decade of experience assessing the food system’s impact on our bodies, communities, and environment. In 2018, we expanded our database of over one million food products assessed to include health and beauty. Because our review and rating process is performed on the ingredient level, we have been able to rapidly offer unique insights into the personal care industry.
Whether you are using our data to learn about your food or your personal care, our motivation is the same: give consumers all the information they need to make informed decisions.
Transparency in nontoxic skincare and cosmetics
To monitor health and beauty product safety, HowGood tracks over 30,000 ingredients. This list is regularly maintained to include hundreds of thousands of synonyms, international naming conventions, chemical names and common names. Each ingredient is categorized as safe, restricted, banned, or of-concern in the Safety Scanner Chrome Extension per the guidelines below.
Our data are informed by over a hundred sources, with primary reliance on the EU, Health Canada, and U.S. FDA regulatory bodies. Additional sources are listed below. Our goal is not to offer our opinions on the relative safety of a product, but rather to provide our users with publicly available information.
We take on overseeing this ever-changing landscape so you don’t have to, but if you have a question about a specific ingredient or chemical, please let us know.
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HowGood includes ingredients that have been banned for use in cosmetics by any of the following national and/or international regulatory bodies, with the vast majority coming from the EU:
United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA)
The bar is set high for any of these three regulatory bodies to issue an outright ban on an ingredient. An assessment of the formula composition, manufacturing process, safety, and labeling is completed.
Though HowGood is U.S.-based, we include the Canadian and EU registries. While the U.S. FDA has only elected to prohibit 13 chemicals to date, the EU and Health Canada have far more stringent regulations and have a combined total of ___ banned ingredients.
Restricted ingredients include chemicals that can only legally be used in limited amounts in a product. This may apply to either the amount in a formulation, or the concentration of the chemical. Any ingredient in this category is restricted due to human health concerns, and could include allergens, endocrine disruptors, and carcinogens, though some may have legitimate therapeutic uses.
Primary sources that HowGood uses to compile the Restricted ingredient list include the following:
California Proposition 65
To a lesser degree, Japanese cosmetics regulations are also included.
Chemicals of concern
Chemicals of concern are potentially harmful: chemicals included have shown some toxicity in studies but are not yet regulated by any government body. Some of these ingredients will prove to be safe, while others, with more studies, may be shown to have deleterious health effects for humans and/or the environment.
HowGood supports our community’s right to exercise the cautionary principle. If there is sound scientific evidence that a chemical may be harmful, we want to make it possible for users to make an informed decision while that chemical is evaluated to their satisfaction.
Undisclosed ingredients include items on an ingredient list that are catch-alls for various compounds. One of the most common examples is “fragrance,” which is often listed without revealing the various synthetic or natural compounds used to create it. While some are safe, others have health concerns. Generally, it is impossible to know unless the brand is more transparent and further detail is given.
Along with fragrance, other common examples are ethoxylated emulsifier and surfactants.
Most ingredients in the HowGood database are safe. In fact, even products that contain a Banned chemical are otherwise predominantly composed of known, tested, and uncontroversial ingredients. We support the use of these ingredients across all Health and Beauty products.