Many of us are cognizant and aware of what we put into our bodies. In recent years, buying organic produce and dairy has become a popular alternative and no longer the health trend it seemed to be in the early days. But we may not be as vigilant about what we are slathering, coating, and applying onto our bodies.

The unpleasant truth is that most personal care products found in drugstores today have a list of ingredients that are far from natural or safe for your health. Many are loaded with chemicals and known carcinogens and their ingredients lists read more like chemical lab experiments than like yet because of lax standards in the beauty industry, brands are allowed to list just about anything as “natural” or “herbal.” Packaging is misleading. Pretty green bottles with leaves on them might make you feel like you’re making a safe, natural choice, but that packaging is most likely a marketing façade. Don’t let it fool you.

In fact, only 11 percent of the approximately 10,500 chemical ingredients that are found in personal care products nationwide are tested for safety. To help you navigate the drug store aisles with more confidence, I’ve compiled a short list of tips for you. I hope it empowers you to be your own watchdog when it comes to the products you use on your body.

  1. Check the score: Thanks to the vigilant and trusted team at Environmental Working Group (EWG), you can find the safety rankings of thousands of popular personal care products. From lipstick and mascara to after shave and shampoo, you can find the site’s toxicity rating for a range of personal care products.  You can also get a sense of which products are truly green, so you can make the best choice for your health and the environment.
  2. Go for Natural Ingredients: If you want to make sure that the majority of ingredients in your products are natural, look for the Natural Seal of approval from the Natural Products Association. Their labeling signals that the beauty product has at least 95% natural ingredients, but it doesn’t tell you whether it is organic in any way. However it does indicate to you that something qualifies as plant or mineral-based.
  3. Be wary of organic labels: Keep in mind that a product can have the USDA Organic seal on it, but not be completely organic. To earn this seal, that product needs to have at least 70% of its ingredients be organically-derived.  The remaining ingredients can be toxic and synthetic. So, it’s a good idea to read the ingredients list. If there’s something complex and hard to pronounce or spell, it’s likely that it’s a chemical.

Follow these trusty tips the next time you plan on buying new products, and you can enjoy safer, more chemical-free ways to clean and beautify.