Friday, December 6, 2013

Skin Deep: An App Review

Queen Composter is looking for ways to make green choices easier when shopping.

I regularly visit the Environmental Working Group’s websiteSkin Deep to research the safety of the personal care products I may purchase. I particularly like their safety reviews of sunscreen products. Like many people, I am so frustrated with having to research the ingredients of everything I buy, which is why I have tried to eliminate the commercial products I buy as I gradually learn how to make my own with safe ingredients.

There are still some products that I buy, and some that I buy when my homemade items run out, and I appreciate Skin Deep when I need to research which product has the safest ingredients. I have found it inconvenient, however, when trying to access the website on my smart phone while out shopping. I am wholly reliant upon and addicted to my smart phone, and I am a stereotypical mom using her smart phone for shopping lists and organizing her kids' social calendar. When I discovered that Skin Deep has a free mobile app, I was naturally excited and looking forward to trying it out. 

The mobile site works in much the same way as the website. Products are rated according to a hazard score, with 0-2 being low risk (green), 3-6 being moderate risk (yellow), and 7-10 being high hazard (red). There is also a data score ranging from none available, through limited, fair, good and robust. If a product has a hazard score of 1 but the data is limited, it means that the known ingredients have a low hazard but there is little known of the other ingredients (very few products on their website have a data score of robust).

Both the website and mobile app include a breakdown of the health concerns of the product, although the mobile app edits the information from five areas to three (cancer, developmental/reprotoxicity, allergy).

The app has the option of scanning the barcode or typing in the name of the product, and it is here that I had my first difficulty with the app. I love the idea of quickly scanning the barcode to access the product information, but for the majority of products scanning did not work for me.

Another issue I had was that after typing in the product name and reading the data available, I was unable to go back to the previous screen to search other products as the app seemed to freeze. The only way around this was to close down the app and restart it each time, which is frustrating to say the least.

Obviously the website has many more available options, such as searching by category (sun, makeup, skin care, hair, nails, fragrance, oral care, babies & moms, men’s) that the mobile app does not, and that is to be expected. The app is limited to searching for a specific product, rather than browsing through various products, displaying the highest rated products first as the website enables users.

Definitely not a product that I purchase!

Despite the flaws and glitches in the app, I am happy to have the app for quick checks when I am in stores and needing to make a quick decision. I will still use the website to do more research before going shopping, but I can see situations when the app will come in handy. For example, this summer I left my sunscreen at home and I ran into an unfamiliar store on our way to the beach to grab some. My preferred sunscreen was unavailable and I tried to use the website on my iPhone to much consternation. The mobile app would have been very useful to help me make a quick decision.

I will be keeping the skin deep app on my iPhone to use in conjunction with research I do on the website. I just hope that the glitches in the app are worked out in a much needed update.

For another app review, read Mindful Echo's review of Buycott. 

1 comment:

Mindful Echo said...

I love using apps for green shopping! Great review!


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