Encouraging women to scrutinize ingredients
In Fall 2010, I took a class called Social Impact by Design. During the second half of the semester, each of us worked on an 8-week research and design project with the goal of sparking positive social impact. My project encouraged young women to pay attention to the ingredients in their personal care products and consider the benefits of choosing products without unhealthy chemicals. My goal was to empower young women by helping them question product claims and pointing them toward resources to find out more.
Step 1: Researching existing resources
There were many in-depth resources available for women who already wanted to buy health products, but not many aimed at raising awareness of the issue or specifically for young women.
Step 2: Identifying barriers to buying non-toxic products
My survey was taken by 31 undergraduate women. The chart below shows the reasons respondents gave for not buying natural personal care products. I chose to focus on 2 barriers: overcoming uncertainty about what's natural, and the barrier of under-consideration.
Step 2: Photo exercise and interviews
Next, I had 3 freshman women take photos of their products at home and come in for an interview. I found that young women hardly ever look at the ingredients in their personal care products, and if they do, they don't know which ingredients are toxic and which are healthy. In addition, the women are very trusting of product claims, even meaningless ones like "all-natural."
Step 3: Ideation
I sketched out ideas for ways to draw attention to the issue, as well as ideas for helping young women identify which ingredients were toxic.
Step 4: Paper prototyping
I showed paper prototypes to young women with various ideas. The idea that was best received was to have an "appearing mirror message"—a provocative question which would appear and disappear as someone stepped closer to it.
Part 1: An appearing mirror message, to pique curiosity and lead viewers to a website
Part 2: A website with in-depth information about the issue and ways to take action (visit the actual website, www.whatsinmyproducts.com)
Part 3: A wallet-sized card containing 20 ingredients to avoid, called the "Terrible Twenty,"available for download from the website.