Q&A with Curious Chloride

Written by Kajsa IngelssonJanuary 22, 2019

I used to think that our society had safety regulations on most things. One of those things being the chemical industry. I wouldn’t in my wildest dreams think that companies would be able to roll out chemicals on the market before testing them for their safety, not only towards humans but also to our planet.

What a fool I was, because this is exactly what’s happening. Yes, you read that right, a chemical can be released and used on the market in a, say, body lotion without knowing what it does to you or our planet. Scary stuff right?

Luckly, times are changing. With the internet and social media we can demand progress, new regulations and laws. We are also able to get and share information that otherwise would be hidden faster and wider than ever before.

Part of this green movement of change is the company Curious Chloride. Before heading into this interview let me tell you, your life just got a lot easier thanks to these guys 🙂

First things first – what exactly is Curious Chloride?

Curious Chloride’s ingredient scanner and digital platform help online shoppers worldwide to stay safe and environmentally friendly by revealing harmful ingredients in beauty and personal care products.

How did you come up with the idea to create Curious Chloride?

I’d been reading labels for a couple of years and started to feel really stressed about remembering all the ingredients to avoid. At one point, I started keeping a long list with me for cross-checking harmful chemicals. And as most of us, I’d adopted the habit of always doing research online before buying something new. So I thought, how can I make this more efficient and less time-consuming? → the idea of Curious Chloride was born.

I also feel strongly about the democratization of information. We, consumers, have a right to know and to understand what’s in our products. It should be easily available and a consumer right, you shouldn’t have to have a degree in chemistry to know that your toothpaste or shampoo is safe to use. That is why I created Curious Chloride for free.

I bet you had to collect a lot of data to make this happen, tell us about the process. What was the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is the abundance of chemicals on the market. People assume that if they find a product in a store, it’s safe to use. This is not always the case, in many cases neither the product nor all the ingredients have been tested. There are new chemicals entering the market every day, and governments and regulators are not keeping the pace. In rare cases, when chemicals are prohibited, they are still on the market during a phase-out period so the companies can sell out their stock. This continues to be the biggest challenge for us, to keep up with and fill in where regulations fall behind.

Can you download and use Curious Chloride on a computer as well as a smartphone?

Curious Chloride in its current state only works on chrome desktop – but we’re expanding to mobile within the year. We’re grateful to our community’s continuous contributions with ideas and suggestion regarding how the mobile version should appear.

In your opinion, what’re the worst 5 ingredients to stay clear off when it comes to beauty/personal care products?

PFAS – group of around 3000 manmade chemicals that are harmful, included in 10 of 13 areas of concern that our scanner looks for. PFAS negatively affects hormones, reproductive system and they’re carcinogenic.. and to make it even worse, they don’t degrade. Which means the chemicals accumulate in nature, wildlife, the food we eat, and also in us.

Microplastics – Also not one single ingredient but a group of different tiny plastics, not only used in scrubs but also in formulas to create a more ‘fuller’ and ‘richer’ consistency. Once released in our sewage system, most goes straight to the waterways where it’s neither degraded nor possible to collect. Apart from the physical damage it causes, by being mistaken for food, there is also evidence that microplastics bind other pollutants to them. This is particularly an issue for everyone who loves seafood, but the larger issue is of course that without a healthy ocean, life on this planet will be difficult or impossible. (Around hundred different microplastics are commonly used in cosmetics – the ingredient scanner helps you avoid them.)

Sunscreen ingredients – There are a few really bad chemical sunscreens that all behave quite similar; negatively affects your hormones, your ability to reproduce and also the marine environment (when you have it on your body while swimming) (ex homosalate, octocrylene or benzophenone,) Hawaii became the first state to ban many of these sunscreen chemicals due to their harmful effects.

Parabens – The infamous group of preservatives, many of them (not all) are forbidden to use in cosmetics in the EU due to numerous studies showing they are carcinogenic, hurting the ability to reproduce, and disturbs the hormone system.

Perfume/fragrance – Hidden behind what looks like a singular ingredient is commonly a mix of 5, 10, 15 or more chemicals, often carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting, that are not disclosed on the label – to protect trade secrets. (ex acetaldehyde, benzophenone or diethyl phthalate). There is a really great Netflix documentary called Stink!, that explores this issue that we can recommend!

Does Curious Chloride work on cleaning products and food too? If not, do you have any plans on expanding the field?

Yes – anywhere you find a list of ingredients – scan it! However, the ingredients that the scanner looks for are focused on cosmetics, BUT as many of the ingredients used, especially in cleaning products and to some extent also in food, are the same, you can definitely use it for non-cosmetic content lists as well.

Lastly, what’re your three top tips on how to live a sustainable and green life?

1. Conscious Consumerism – we believe in voting with your wallet. The everyday choices we make, where we choose to spend our money, has a great impact on making this planet (and all its inhabitants) more sustainable and healthy.

2. Choose plant-based diet – Better for you, the planet and of course, the animals. The movement is doing well, which we really notice here in Berlin with most friends following a green diet and vegan places popping up everywhere.

3. Avoid disposables – F.ex, bring your own cup and takeaway boxes where you get your coffée or dinner. My sister is so embarrassed when I do this, and some cafés and restaurants will laugh at you, but know that you are not alone! And if you are – become a trendsetter.