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Warning: Once you start, you can't stop!

I recently went on a hiking trip and introduced this app to the group of women I was traveling with. They were in agreement that this app is incredibly helpful, frustrating, and addicting! Helpful because it provides you with detailed information on the foods and products you love. Frustrating because you might learn your favorite shampoo is filled with harmful ingredients. Addicting because once you start scanning, you cannot stop!

Yuka is an app that provides you with detailed information on the ingredients that are in your products or foods. By simply scanning a barcode, Yuka will rate the product on a scale of 0-100 and provide a rating of hazardous, moderate risk, limited risk, or risk free. The risk levels are assessed based on the potential effects of the ingredients on your health and the environment, looking for endocrine disruptors, allergens, irritants, and carcinogens. It will list the positive aspects, as well as negative aspects for each product. It will also give you suggestions for a replacement if your product scores poorly. If there is a product you scan that Yuka does not have data on, you can submit in the app and they will add.

The app is free, but you can pay $13.99/year for added benefits, including searching any product by name without having to scan it (really helpful for products that do not have barcodes), customizing food preferences to detect ingredients you want to avoid (for example: gluten free, vegan, palm oil free), and scanning items even when your phone has no signal.

One thing I would like to highlight is the app classifies Zinc Oxide as a moderate risk. They rate it this way because of the effects of NANO ZINC OXIDE on your health and the environment. In the case of inhalation, NANO ZINC OXIDE could potentially lead to respiratory inflammation (a good reason to avoid aerosol and spray sunscreens) and it is considered to be highly toxic to aquatic life, particularly to algae and corals.

It is important to differentiate NANO and NON-NANO ZINC OXIDE. NON-NANO (larger than 100 nanometers) zinc oxide is safe for reefs and marine life, but NANO zinc oxide particles (smaller than 100 nanometers) can be ingested by marine animals including coral, causing internal damage, and when washed off into ocean, they can react with UV rays to generate hydrogen peroxide which can be toxic to phytoplankton—a vital nutrient to many reef and coral species.

The best sunscreen active ingredient, for both human and marine biosystems, is NON-NANO ZINC OXIDE. This gets a little confusing on Yuka because it does not separate NANO and NON-NANO for scoring. So, just be sure to read the label and full ingredient list. When it comes to sunblock, strive to avoid Nano Zinc Oxide, and all chemical sunscreens.

Remember the difference between chemical sunscreens and mineral blocks is that the minerals block the rays from entering the body at all, while the chemical sunscreens break down the rays once they enter the body to reduce the damage to our cells. It is always safest and most effective to prevent UV rays from entering at all.

Below are some examples of the information Yuka can provide. Is this a right or die? No! Just a great way to quickly gather information on what you are putting on your body or in your body. If it has a hazardous ingredient, I avoid. If your favorite shampoo has some moderate or low risk ingredients, you decide.

Yuka is just another great tool to have in our toolbox to make better choices for our health and wellness. Happy scanning. And beware, I spent an extra hour in target just scanning for the fun of it!


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