Green Girl Plays Skin Deep

A couple of weeks ago (while still at home), I was in my townís local health food store with a friend who was visiting from college. She was looking at all of the hair and body products and commenting on how she wanted to green-ify her body care collection. As I watched, she began pulling moisturizers and shampoos and deodorants from the shelves without a glance at the ingredients list.

Well, letís just say I put a stop to that. ďWAIT!Ē I cried. She looked at me questioningly. She had thought that, because she was in a health food store, every product must be completely green. COMMON MISCONCEPTION!!!!! Common misconception that is very wrong. Very wrong indeed. Many products in health food stores still carry such things as parabens and fragrances–you have to search hard for truly green products. I walked my friend through the process of scouring the aisles for the truly green.

What I realized from this encounter, though, is that no matter how much I may be getting my friends, readers, and peers to think green and want to be green, they donít always understand what goes into being green. It is not just walking into the health food store. The problem is that they have not done all of the research that I have done. They do not know offhand which ingredients are bad and which are good–which is completely understandable. Not everyone has 20 years of being told that they canít use that shampoo because it has parabens in it. Most people are just learning!

So, what do I advise those of you who are just learning and need an easy way to tell what is OK and what is not? I advise you to go to this lovely website called Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database. Itís a miracle worker. You literally type in the product, company, or ingredient name into the search, and the item shows up with a hazard score–how toxic it is–from 1 to 10, 0-2 being low hazard, 3-6 moderate hazard, and 7-10 high hazard. If you click on the product, it will give you detailed information about links between it and such things as cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and endocrine disruption.

I just utilized Skin Deep and was shocked to see that a couple of things I had thought were fine were a 6 on the hazard scale (although I was pleased to see that my shampoo is a 2)! Even for the chemically experienced, this site is a lifesaver. So never fear! Now there is an easy way for you to check out what youíre using. Itís quite eye opening, indeed. And my friends who are not so green? Well, I just played Skin Deep with them, too Ö and I thought my 6ís were bad!

Note to self: Throw away the 6ís and find a new moisturizer.

Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a sophomore at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.


Aoife O Mahony
Aoife O Mahony7 years ago


Danielle A.
Danielle A8 years ago

thanks for posting about skin deep I've found it so useful! I was wondering though if you, or anyone who reads this, knows of a healthy deodorant that still works, helps with odor & sweat? so far tom's is the only one that worked, but I had an allergic reaction to it.

Christine Rosano
Christine Rosano9 years ago

Thanks for this site It's really helpful! It'll def help me find some better stuff to be using :)

Charlotte Downs
.9 years ago

Great, thank you.

Abby F.
Abby M9 years ago

Thanks so much for the site! I am one of the inexperienced people who are "just learning." Fascinating, in a slightly scary way, to take a closer look at what I slather all over my skin and hair without a second thought.

Shane S.

Skin Deep has some solid research included on their site but some of their data about product ingredients is outdated and inaccurate.

Nancy Riley
Nancy Riley10 years ago

I've been making my own personal products since my cancer diagnosis. You are so fortunate to of had a family who was into knowing about parabens, etc.
I am trying to educate my college age daughter so she'll never get cancer.
Try these good sites for products: - Skin deep likes them and they have simple ingredients.
Feel free to make your own too:
Keep up the good work Green Girl...I'll get my daughter to read you yet!
Nancy R.

Lauryn Slotnick
Lauryn S10 years ago

Skin Deep is a wonderful website, but it's worth checking what can sometimes add to higher scores. For example, things like grapefruit seed extract have high scores because it apparently has the "potential" to be contaminated with impurities. Until I find information that demonizes grapefruit seed extract more than that, I'll trust that the companies I like only use grapefruit seed extract that's free from impurities. Also, ingredients that are "penetration enhancers" raise danger Skin Deep danger scores, but I usually feel that if I'm not using anything I'm worried about being absorbed into my skin, I'm less worried about "penetration enhancers." So definitely check places like Skin Deep, but don't automatically throw away a product without seeing why it may have gotten a higher score than you thought it would!

Matilda Green
isabella samovsky10 years ago

I love skin deep, one of the companies I found was Solay Wellness They have an amazing line of organic moisturizers, face scrubs, soaps, shampoos. I have switched all my products to their brand so far with excellent results. My daughter has acne and love the daily detox soap, my husband has thinning hair and both the green tea shampoo bar and the organic green tea shampoo has done wonders for his hair. And my skin never looked so good. When I first found them, I called and spoke with the owner, Isabella and she sent me samples. She has a great company! Very customer focused and all her products are made by hand in small batches by small woman business, you need to ask for samples or buy them on the website but I cant praise them enough. Really a great company to support with amazing products, by far the best I have tried.

Meagan P.
Meagan P10 years ago

i've started using dr. bronner's magic soaps for shampoo, body wash, cleaning, everything. they are pure castile and completely organic. i would recommend them to anyone!
i avoid parabens as much as possible. it's incredible how many estrogen-mimicker chemicals are in our hygiene products, and then we wonder why little girls are hitting puberty at 8 years old and breast cancer is occurring at younger ages too.