Your favorite personal care products could be laced with potentially harmful chemicals, so how do you tell the good from the bad among the thousands of unpronounceable, confusing chemical names?

Take a deep breath and equip yourself with the knowledge and tools necessary to become an empowered consumer. Here are three good techniques for shopping smarter and reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals:

1. Read the labels.

We've all learned to do this for food, but have you ever taken a look at the ingredient labels on your cosmetics? Yes, it can be confusing, but just learning a few chemical names to watch out for, like triclosan, parabens or phthalates, can empower you to avoid the worst offenders when it comes to your health.

2. Use EWG's Skin Deep to shop online or in the store.

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EWG created a great tool that rates personal care products on health and safety criteria. Look for products that score in the green range (0-2) with a data score of fair or better. You'll know you're getting a safe product, free of the most questionable chemicals. Use the Skin Deep® mobile app to scan product bar codes in the store or browse online to find hundreds of safe options.

3. Use less.

We all need certain personal care products, but when you can, use less. Specifically, try to avoid dark hair dyes, which may contain carcinogenic coal tar; bright red lipsticks, which likely contain lead; and chemical hair straighteners, which can contain phthalates and formaldehyde. Also try opting for products with a shorter ingredient list, fewer ingredients means less risk of exposure to questionable chemicals.

Learn more about ingredients in personal care products and your health at Skin Deep, or check out my video course on MBG.

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