Are cosmetic rating Apps worth your time and attention?
We might not seem very objective with this article since we are a cosmetic brand. But we have noticed many unfairly bad ratings for products of industry colleagues on cosmetics rating apps, and even for some of our products…
But then, you would have been lied to? Are organic products not as “organic” and “clean” as they claim? How else can you justify their poor ratings and “danger” labels? In this article, we wanted to explain these surprising inconsistencies, with all the objectivity we can muster.
The value of cosmetic rating applications
When we take our courage in both hands and turn over a cosmetic product to read its detailed INCI list, our courage can quickly run out when we find ourselves :
- facing a list of 50 ingredients
- or facing ingredients with barbaric names.
Of course we caricature, all INCI lists are not difficult to decipher. But it can sometimes take time to get into the habit of doing it ourselves, simply because INCI lists are often written in Latin, and there are thousands of different ingredients. So it takes a little practice!
That is why applications to decipher cosmetics are so practical. They usually offer a rating system for cosmetics, in addition to deciphering the list of ingredients.
But why are some ingredients of organic products rated badly?
Not all cosmetics rating applications are concerned, but this can raise questions, and even make you suspicious if you trust these apps. And we understand people who can be lost when faced with the discourse of brands on the one hand, and apps on the other.
So why are some ingredients used in organic cosmetic products rated badly? This is not supposed to happen given the promises made by organic cosmetic brands. So why do they get bad ratings?
Simply because the rating applications do not take into account the globality of an ingredient. For example, they classify odorous molecules (naturally present in essential oils) as allergens.
Indeed, essential oils can be allergenic for people sensitive to their molecules, as they could have an allergy to nuts … Which is not the case for most people.
Moreover, the Cosmebio organization summarizes it very well here:
“Perfume allergens are to cosmetics what nuts are to food products. They are mentioned on the packaging to reassure people who can’t stand them, but they are not dangerous for non-allergic people. In food, the presence of these allergens does not affect the overall rating of the product. So why do it in cosmetics?“
Products with essential oils, badly rated… wrongly
This is why the possible allergens “linalool, geraniol, eugenol, benzyl benzoate, citronellol, farnesol, benzyl salicylate, citral, limonene and benzyl alcohol” lower the (good) scores of organic cosmetics. These are molecules that may be naturally present in essential oils or synthetically created.
And this is where the problem lies: when these molecules are in their natural terrain (in the essential oil), the allergenic risk is lower. While in a synthetic molecule, separated from all other components that make up an ingredient, the risk of intolerance is higher.
“Excluded from their context, chemically recreated molecules (even if they have the same name as their natural model) present a lesser efficacy and are, in general, poorly tolerated, probably due to the presence of synthetic intermediates or the absence of temporizing principles.“
Source : l’aromathérapie exactement – Franchomme, Dr Pénoël
So how do you tell the difference between natural molecules and chemical/synthetic molecules?
Simply by spotting the phrase “naturally contained in some essential oils”. This means that the molecules present in the INCI list come naturally from the essential oils that make up the final product.
Besides, it would be a shame to leave out essential oils in the composition of skin care products, as they contain many virtues!
Should we still trust the rating apps?
Far be it from us to discuss the interest of cosmetic rating applications. On the contrary, we think it’s a great step forward in the world of the cosmetics industry! It proves the interest and the attention you pay to the composition of your cosmetics. Just as you are interested in the origin of your vegetables, your clothes, etc…
A few years ago, few people would have asked themselves about the composition of their cosmetics. But cosmetic apps have made this part of the information accessible, and that’s a very good thing.
If allergens (no matter where they come from) are identified as bad in some apps, some components with a negative environmental impact are not. We are thinking in particular of petroleum derivatives (kerosene for example), harmless for the skin & health, but not really glamorous for the environment since they come from fossil & non-renewable energy.
And can we talk about products that are poor in active ingredients (a lot of water for example) but very well rated?
Generally speaking, we advise you to use an application on a daily basis, to facilitate the work of deciphering your cosmetic ingredients. But the ideal is to cross-check with the analysis, on your side, of the mentions on the packaging:
- is the product certified organic*?
- Does it mention the presence of essential oils that could justify the presence of “allergens”?
And if you want to trust certain books/apps with your eyes closed, here are the ones we recommend:
- La vérité sur les cosmétiques (website and book)
- Mireille app (app)
- L’essentiel de Julien (book)
Trust organic & natural cosmetic brands?
*Certified organic products are subject to more or less strict charters. This is already a way to be reassured about the overall composition of the product you are buying.
The labels look at the composition of the product as a whole and block many controversial ingredients. But also ingredients from non-renewable sources (like kerosene, again!) or polluting for the environment.
By the way, if you want to know more about organic cosmetic labels, we invite you to read our article “What is organic cosmetics?”