By Alexandra Zissu, Editorial Director

From toothpaste to shampoo, to shaving cream and make-up, personal care essentials are a ubiquitous part of life. The average American is said to use nine such products containing 126 different ingredients every day, usually without a second thought. Yet growing evidence shows we should all think at least twice about them.

More than 20 percent of personal care products contain chemicals that may contribute to cancer, and four out of five of their ingredients are typically contaminated with toxic byproducts. Some formulas contain compounds linked to reproductive dysfunction and endocrine disruption. Others rely on chemicals that can cause organ damageand harm fetal development. Even well known hazards like mercury and lead can appear, even if they are not identified directly on the label.

This is all the result of scant regulations that let personal care and cosmetic companies use nearly any ingredient and sell virtually any formula without safety testing or transparent ingredient labeling. Protecting ourselves –and especially our kids—from this lack of oversight starts with knowing how to read labels.

4 Easy Steps to Reading Personal Care Product Labels: 

In general, try to stick to natural formulas and use as few personal care products as possible. And look for products that supplement the required and often technical standard ingredient names with plain English explanations. That’s really the best way to keep the whole family looking its best.

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