An App Problem

August 21, 2017

We downloaded and tried two popular beauty related apps designed to help consumers make better buying decisions based on ingredients - Healthy Living and Think Dirty - and compared them side-by-side. What we found was enlightening, confusing, and simply wrong. Here are a few examples:

 

Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser

 

Healthy Living Rating: 3 (fair)

Think Dirty Rating: 9 (very bad)

 

Both rankings were based on one ingredient: fragrance.

 

Does fragrance cause cancer? No. Can it be irritating to a small percentage of the population? Yes.

 

PCA Skin Pigment Gel

 

Healthy Living Rating: 5 (fair)

Think Dirty Rating: 10 (worst)

 

Both ratings were based on one ingredient: hydroquinone.

 

Does hydroquinone cause cancer? There is no evidence it causes cancer in humans. Can it be irritating to a small percentage of the population? Yes.

 

These poor ratings led me to search for a product I absolutely love to find out what each had to say about it and to conclude Think Dirty is one of the worst possible apps to use.

 

SkinMedica Facial Cleanser.

 

Healthy Living Rating: Not rated.

Think Dirty Rating: 10 (worst)

 

This incredibly poor rating is based on the ingredients butylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, fragrance, methylparaben, and propylparaben. SkinMedica Facial Cleanser, however, doesn't contain those ingredients.

 

This is the full ingredient list for the product: Water/Aqua/Eau, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Camellia Oleifera Extract, Glycerin, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Ethyhexylglycerin, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance, Blue 1 (CI 42090), Yellow 10 (CI 47005).

 

There's no option to question the accuracy of the data entry. And there's one additional problem. On their website, under "Questions" is this paragraph:

 

"If you are a brand owner, and would like to submit products for priority listing services, or have other partnership enquiries. Please contact us at..." (Errors: Think Dirty, not A and E.)

 

Inaccuracy (and punctuation and spelling errors) aside, we can't help wondering if bias isn't an inherent problem with this app.

 

 

 

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