As viral beauty trends continue to lure lovers of all-things cosmetics, transparency in the digital space has never been more important. After all, while it can be easy to get swept up in the allure of the latest skin care products promoted by your favourite social media influencer, it can be a little more challenging to ensure that what you’re putting on your face is beneficial (or even safe!). That’s where Yuka enters the chat. While initially launched to report on food products, today the app has expanded into the beauty space – and also scans cosmetic and personal care products to decipher their ingredients and evaluate their impact on your health.
Yes to Yuka
In an era of often incomprehensible labels (does anyone actually know what Ascorbyl palmitate is or does?), Yuka provides clarity in one quick scan. So you can make clear-sighted purchases, particularly in the beauty space. According to Yuka co-founder Julie Chapon (who launched the app with brothers Martin and Francois in France 2017), Yuka has two primary features: empowering consumers and influencing change.
“Yuka aims to assist consumers in making healthier and more sustainable choices by offering unparalleled transparency regarding the contents of their daily purchases,” says Julie. “It also strives to act as a catalyst for manufacturers to enhance the quality of their products. By educating and guiding consumers, the app encourages brands to improve their product compositions.”
Beauty buzzwords … minus the bias
One of the standout features of Yuka is its independence. According to Julie, it operates on three core principles. Firstly, a total absence of brand or manufacturer influence. Yuka does not accept funding from brands or manufacturers, ensuring that product evaluations and recommendations remain objective. Secondly, an ad-free policy – brands cannot pay Yuka to promote their products through advertisements, guaranteeing the elimination of marketing bias. And finally, user data confidentiality. Yuka respects user privacy by not utilising or selling any personal data.
“This commitment to independence and transparency fosters trust among users, highlighting Yuka as a mission-driven company with a primary focus on having a positive impact on society,” adds Julie.
Ready, set, scan!
The beauty industry is rife with products promising miracles, but it’s often challenging to separate fact from marketing fiction. Yuka simplifies the process by offering a straightforward colour-coded system of 1.5 million cosmetic products.
A quick scan of a product’s barcode will reveal a colour score: green indicates a good choice, while red flags a potentially harmful product. This intuitive approach helps consumers make informed decisions right at the store shelves.
To dig deeper into a product’s score, you can tap on it to access a detailed data sheet with a breakdown of positives and negatives. Yuka supports its ratings with scientific research links, allowing you to educate yourself further about specific ingredients and their potential effects on your health.
For beauty products, Yuka also assesses the potential health and environmental effects. This evaluation considers whether products are endocrine-disruptive, carcinogenic, allergenic, irritants, or polluting. These ratings are also based on scientific research.
Ingredients, education and analysis
So is your serum safe? According to Julie, Yuka’s ingredient analysis often reveals concerning elements in cosmetic products. Some of the common and problematic ingredients include:
- Propylparaben: Suspected of being an endocrine disruptor and harmful to the environment.
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene): Linked to potential endocrine disruption and toxicity in various studies.
- Petrolatum: A petroleum derivative with potential toxic impurities.
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone: A highly allergenic and skin-irritating preservative with toxic effects on aquatic life.
- Methylisothiazolinone: Also allergenic and irritating, it poses neurotoxicity risks and is toxic to aquatic life.
- Octocrylene: A UV filter with potential endocrine disruption and carcinogenic degradation products.
While she does note that, “the regulatory landscape for cosmetics varies significantly between the United States, Australia, and Europe,” generally speaking the presence of these ingredients in cosmetics raises concerns about health and environmental impact.