The cosmetic and personal care product industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry ... and growing. New products are coming onto the market every day. Manufacturers play to your emotions in their advertising and packaging. They tell you their products will make you look more beautiful, younger, sexier and help you attract your perfect mate. They promise to erase blemishes, wrinkles, make your skin smoother and softer. In fact, any flaws that you see in yourself, real or imagined, there is most likely a product on the market that promises to fix it.

Can you believe all the claims you read or hear about these products? Is there really truth in advertising? Where do you find the answers to these questions? How can you really be sure that a product will do what the manufacturer says it will? And most importantly, how do you know that the products are healthy and safe to use?

Here are some things for you to look out for when choosing products you're going to use on your skin:

1. Magazine and other print ads

They're designed to make you want to buy. They promise you radiant skin, a healthy glow, age-defying skin care, purity, safe and effective products made with natural ingredients. They make the product sound so good and good for you that you just want to go out and buy it. But don't buy yet. You need more information.

2. Radio and TV ads

In 30 seconds or less, you'll hear all the wonderful benefits you'll receive from choosing their products – softer, silkier, healthier hair; smoother, younger-looking skin and more. Manufacturers spend a lot of money trying to convince you to buy their products. Don't jump up and rush to the store after seeing or hearing one of their compelling ads. They're not telling you everything you need to know.

3. Celebrity endorsements

Companies pay celebrities a lot of money to endorse their products. They hope you'll think that because the celebs say wonderful things about their products, you'll want to use them too. Don't fall for this.

4. Samples in the mail

What better way to get you to try their product than to give you a little bit to test on yourself! You get to experience first hand how the product smells, feels, lathers, absorbs, etc. Now while you may like how it smells, performs and the result you get, you still don't have enough information to assess the health and safety of the product.

5. "Natural" on the label

This suggests that the product is made of ingredients from natural sources. However, there are no industry standards for what "natural" means. The product may contain all natural ingredients, just a few natural ingredients added to a synthetic product or no natural ingredients at all.

6. "Organic" on the label

Beware of products that claim to be 95%, 90% or some other high percentage organic on the label. According to cosmetic chemist Paul Lieber, it's physically impossible for more than 30-40% of the ingredients to be organic, unless it's organic oil. Why? Because typically 60-70% of a product is water and water cannot be certified organically grown, even if it's distilled or processed with organic herbs or essential oils.

7. Hypoallergenic

This doesn't mean the product won't cause allergic reactions. There are no standards defining hypoallergenic. It just means the manufacturer believes it's less likely to cause allergic reactions. In many cases, it's not even tested; only fragrances are removed.

8. Pretty labels

Manufacturers spend a lot of money designing labels to make you think their product is natural, herbal, healthy and will do amazing things if you use it. The truth is ... the information on the front of the label doesn't tell you anything about the health and safety of the ingredients inside the package. Don't base your decision on what's on the front of the label.

9. The ingredients list

This is the most important piece of information that you absolutely must read before you buy any product. The ingredient list is where you find out if the product really contains safe and healthy ingredients or not. This is NOT what the manufacturers wants you to read on their labels. That's why they make it so tiny you need a magnifying glass to read it. Buy one and carry it with you in your pocket or purse. Take it out when you're trying to read that microscopic print.

10. Incomplete ingredient lists

Many companies, because of increased consumer awareness of the ingredients in skin care products, will list only the known herbal and healthy ingredients on their website or in their advertisements. If you don't read carefully, you may think that what they list is the complete list of ingredients in the product ... that is until you buy the product and read the full list of ingredients on the label. Beware of this deceptive practice.

Now, you may be wondering how you're supposed to know if the ingredients on the label are safe or not. Most of the ingredients are not listed in plain, understandable, everyday language. Well, you don't need to hire your own personal cosmetic chemist. There is a simple solution. Dying To Look Good is an easy-to-use book, written in plain, understandable language, that classifies ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products according to safety and lists products that are safe and healthy to use. If you check the ingredients on all product labels before you buy with the list of ingredients in Dying To Look Good, you will be able to confidently choose products that are safe and healthy.

Author's Bio: 

© 2006 Christine H. Farlow, D.C., "The Ingredients Investigator" and author of DYING TO LOOK GOOD. Dr. Farlow has been researching ingredient safety since 1991. Learn more about the safety of ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products and find healthy products at