It can be difficult to know and understand what ingredients are in food and cosmetics. Beyond that, it’s even more about trying to tell the good chemicals from the bad ones without spending hours researching each product. The Yuka app was created to make this task easier for anyone looking to improve their diet or their skin.
Yuka was created in 2017 by Benoit Martin, François Martin and Julie Chapon. Once downloaded, users can scan the barcode of any food or cosmetic product and the app will rate the item out of 100. According to Yuca’s website, food products are scored as follows: “The nutritional quality is 60% of the score. The presence of additives represents 30% of the score. The organic dimension is 10% of the score. For cosmetics, the website says: “Ingredients are categorized into four risk categories: no risk (green dot), low risk (yellow dot), moderate risk (orange dot) and dangerous (red dot).
Researcher Bastien Soutjis delves into many aspects of the app by interviewing, observing the app, and conducting his own research to determine the effects his results will have on consumers. Although the app is being marketed in a positive light, Soutjis said in his to research that “the designers’ ethical considerations embodied in these apps are based on an arbitrarily decided method (by the creators) resulting in an amalgamation of expert advice and available product information”. It’s worth keeping this in mind when using the app, as it may not be 100% accurate.
The creators take pride in the unbiased results of every scannable product and provide consumers with a gratifying feeling when a product they own is deemed “good”. The application can be beneficial, but it should not be used above the recommendations of professionals, even if an item is labeled as bad.
“Everything I scanned was ‘wrong,'” said Corinn Schusteff, a math student at NIU. “What was shocking was that the skincare products I was scanning were products recommended by my dermatologist, so I started to feel like maybe the application wasn’t right or I was wondering what they were basing the rating on.”
The Yuka app can be a fun and eye-opening way to discover healthier foods and skincare products, but consumers should do some extra research before tossing out their “bad” products.