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Lotion, acne wash, cologne, deodorant… young people lather and primp daily with lots of personal care products, resulting in exposure to many combinations of untested and potentially harmful chemicals. Help guide tweens and teens toward safer cosmetics and bodycare with these tips.

1. Reduce your use.

Simplify body care routines and use fewer products overall. Try using less of all products.

2. Avoid perfumes and choose fragrance-free products.

Hidden fragrance chemicals can include hormone-disrupting phthalates and allergens.

3. Be skeptical of labeling without standards including “certified hypoallergenic” and “dermatologist-tested.”

Specific claims such as “contains no parabens” or “phthalate-free” are more useful in evaluating products. Unfortunately, there are no common third-party certifications that assess health in personal care products.

4. Shopping is easier when you find brands you trust.

Use resources, such as the Skin Deep database, look up companies that champion the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, and find safer cosmetics product tips with Teens Turning Green.

5. Review ingredients and make informed buying decisions.

Browse the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to learn about ingredients of concern and thousands of personal care products ranked for health hazards. Use the ratings to find safer cosmetics and body care alternatives.

6. Skip the triclosan, an antibacterial agent found in some toothpaste, deodorant, acne treatments, and soaps.

There is no evidence of any benefit in most personal care products with this chemical, and safer alternatives without triclosan are readily available.

7. Tweens and teens should avoid products with major safety concerns such as permanent hair straighteners.

Instead of relaxing hair with chemicals, use a flat iron for temporary smoothing. Other products to avoid include hair dye, skin lighteners, conventional nail polish, and dandruff shampoos. Avoid products with warning statements such as “do not breathe vapors” and “not for use on children.” Loose powders and aerosol products can increase chemical exposure via inhalation. Pump sprays, which create larger droplets, are a safer alternative to aerosols.

8. Find a safe and effective sunscreen.

Chemical-free sun protection includes wearing clothing, hats and sunglasses, staying out of mid-day sun, and making shade.

9. Make your own healthy body care products.

Make a baking soda mask to fight acne, a grapefruit sugar scrub, or beet red lip gloss – many of the ingredients may already be in your kitchen. The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics has some recipe ideas.

10. Join the fight against unregulated, untested chemicals in personal care products.

We can’t shop our way out of this problem! Sign up for Toxic-Free Future’s email alerts and help us let elected officials know we need stronger laws to ensure the products we use on our bodies are safe.

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