Friday, 22 October, 2021

At risk or not? UFC-Que Choisir launches an app to scrutinize its cosmetics


What are French women looking for when choosing their beauty products? According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, 85% are certainly looking for effective products but they are also 67% to be sensitive to the harmlessness of products and 60% to carefully read their composition. It must be said that in recent months, undesirable ingredients, and in particular endocrine disruptors that disrupt hormonal functioning, have hit the headlines. UFC-Que Choisir, which in June had pinned more than 1,000 cosmetic products containing “unwanted ingredients”, has taken a further step: it is launching an app to help choose its cosmetics.

“It’s a long-standing fight,” confirms Olivier Andrault, project manager at UFC-Que Choisir. He recalls the “black list” of products that the association has already published, but a request came back regularly: when will a list of recommendable products be produced? Answer with this free app called QuelCosmetic. “You can use it very easily in a store or in your bathroom” describes Olivier Andrault. “You just have to flash the barcode of the product and, if it is one of the 6,000 already in our database, its file appears.” Otherwise, all you have to do is take a photo of the product and list of ingredients to report it and the UFC Que Choisir undertakes to integrate it into the database. A keyword search is also possible.

Shampoo, toothpaste, make-up, day cream… The app scrutinizes a wide variety of products and points out the presence or absence of endocrine disruptors, allergens or other irritants. In total, “about fifteen undesirable ingredients” is taken into account, recalls Olivier Andrault who explains that the UFC-Que Choisir is based on “official recommendations from scientific bodies” such as the International Center for Research on Cancer (CIRC) for example. A list therefore called upon to evolve, as well as the base of evaluated products.

“List of risk-free products”

“Nearly one in two products contains one or more undesirable ingredients” continues Olivier Andrault, also stressing that in baby products, “28% contain at least one undesirable element”. And the UFC-Que Choosing representative continued: “What this shows us is that there is no generic rule. The big brands are not necessarily guaranteed to be harmless. the more expensive products are not necessarily the most free from risky ingredients. ” Another lesson that Olivier Andrault draws: an alternative is always possible. “We can make the choice. And we want to attract the attention of consumers to take charge of their health.” The app thus highlights a “risk-free product list”.

Will this “white list” as well as information which takes into account the profile of the consumer (pregnant woman, baby, adolescent, adult…) make the difference? Because several applications have already entered the cosmetics decryption niche, such as PharmaPocket which, as its name suggests, focuses on products sold in pharmacies or even Clean Beauty. Launched in February 2017 by Officinea, a start-up that develops natural cosmetics, this app now has 300,000 users, according to Candice Colin, CEO of Officinea.

The one who founded the start-up with Claire Gagliolo underlines the universal character of Clean Beauty. It is not a question here of scanning a barcode but of taking a photo of the list of ingredients and those subject to controversy are identified automatically. Enough to identify these ingredients “in all cosmetics” according to Officinea. “We have a list of 84 controversial ingredients”, scientific bibliography in support, recalls Candice Colin. “As well as a glossary of 1,000 ingredients.”

The stated objective is pedagogy, so that the consumer can make informed decisions. And Candice Colin to remind, among other things, the dangers related to cocktail effects (different ingredients that become harmful when mixed) or cumulative (the same ingredient can be present in several products). From Clean Beauty to QuelCosmetic, the idea is indeed to make the composition of cosmetics more accessible. And thus respond to increasingly strong consumer expectations.

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