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5 Necessary Steps You Should Take When Choosing Your Cosmetics And Personal Care Products

Aug 17, 2007
What you put on your skin is as important as the food you eat. Chemicals that come in contact with your skin can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Many of the ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products are toxic, even though they may not cause any reaction on the skin. Some cause cancer. Some of the most commonly used ingredients combine with other ingredients to form cancer-causing substances. Here's a list to help you choose safer and healthier cosmetics and personal care products:

1. Read the List of Ingredients

Most products are labeled to "sell" rather than provide accurate information about the product. The sales pitch on the label doesn't tell you anything about the safety and quality of the ingredients in the product. You need to read the ingredients list rather than the label for more accurate information about the product.

The ingredient list may not be easy to find and it may be so tiny you need a magnifying glass to read it because that's not what the manufacturer wants you to see. The ingredients are required by law to be listed on the product label in order of quantity. The ingredient present in the largest quantity is listed first, the ingredient in the smallest quantity is listed last.

2. Check the Ingredients for Safety

The cosmetics and personal care industry is very poorly regulated. There are more than 12,000 ingredients that can be used in cosmetics and personal care products and most of them have not been adequately tested, many not tested at all. The manufacturers are not required to prove the claims they make about their products or to test them for safety. Many products contain cancer-causing ingredients along with ingredients that enhance absorption of the product through the skin into the bloodstream. To make sure the products you're buying are safe, check the ingredients against a reliable safety list.

3. Beware of Words That Are Used to Sell Rather Than Provide Accurate Information

Many of the words manufacturers use on labels to promote their products do not have "official definitions" so they can be used to mean anything that the manufacturer wants. These terms are very often misleading.

Some words to watch out for include:
Natural - may contain all natural ingredients, a few or none at all
Hypoallergenic - may be tested or based upon manufacturer belief; no proof is required
Fragrance free - means no detectable odor; fragrance ingredients may still be added

4. More is Not Better

Choose products with fewer ingredients, not more. Besides the fact that most ingredients have not been adequately tested, those that have been tested have only been tested individually, not in combination with other ingredients. Nobody knows the effects of the many different ingredients used in thousands of different combinations, the effects of using numerous different products, one on top of the other, or the effects of repeated use of ingredients or products over time.

5. Buy From Companies Truly Committed to Healthy Products

As consumers are becoming more conscious of using safer and healthier products, many manufacturers are tapping into that consciousness and producing pseudo-healthy products. The label looks like the product is natural and healthy, but if you read the ingredients, that's not the case. On the other hand there are companies dedicated to producing safe and natural cosmetics and personal care products. Many of these are small companies that were started because of the lack of availability of healthy products and some of them use organic and food grade ingredients.

We live in a toxic world and there are some things that we have no control over, like air pollution. However, we do have control over what we put into our bodies and what we put on our bodies - if we just take the time to educate ourselves and make safe and healthy choices. With the increasing number of chemicals in everything these days, it's important for everyone to become health conscious. Taking control over what you put into your body and on your body will affect your quality of life and may just be a matter of life and death!
About the Author
Dr. Christine H. Farlow, D.C. has been researching ingredient safety since 1991. She is the author of three books, including the new, second edition of DYING TO LOOK GOOD. To learn more about the safety of ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care products, visit www.dyingtolookgood.com.
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