A new iPhone app called Think Dirty allows you to scan your cosmetics and personal care products for potential carcinogens. Lily Tse, founder of the company, says that she was motivated to create the app after her mother’s battle with breast cancer.


“[It was] born out of a personal journey to understand the truths in the beauty industry,” she explains.

She was also inspired by Annie Leonard’s eight-minute video, “The Story of Cosmetics”, in which Leonard points out that words commonly used on cosmetics labels, such as “herbal,” “natural,” and “organic,” have no legal definition, and that many of their ingredients have been linked to asthma, cancer and fertility problems.

A customer can use the app to scan the bar codes of personal care products in stores, and the product is then given a “Dirty Meter” rating ranging from zero to 10, using third-party information from environmental, governmental and nonprofit science organizations. The product can be rated across three different categories: Carcinogenity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity, and Allergies & Immunotoxicities.

The database currently consists of some 11,000 products. If a customer scans an item that is not included in the database, they can add it by submitting the product’s name and taking a picture of the label.


The Think Dirty team has partnered up with the Breast Cancer Fund for the month of October (for Thirty Days of Dirty), and pledged that during the remainder of this month, they will donate $1 per product scanned towards the cause of breast cancer research and treatment.

So think dirty and get scanning!