safety scanner

Google Chrome plug-in for cosmetics and baby product toxicity rating


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.

Nontoxic skincare and cosmetic product transparency

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.

howgood’s chrome extension for safe baby products and cosmetics

The Safety Scanner rates a product’s toxicity based on its ingredients. The ratings follow a simple logic:


Banned Ingredients

HowGood’s banned ingredients are prohibited for use in cosmetics by any of the following national and/or international regulatory bodies, with the vast majority coming from the EU:

  • European Union

  • Health Canada

  • 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 over 1300 banned ingredients.

Restricted 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:

  • EU Cosing

  • Health Canada

  • 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

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 emulsifiers and surfactants. Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, is also considered an undisclosed ingredient if the grade is not explicitly stated.