Looking your best when you go to work is important. A vital part of presenting yourself in the best light is a good skin care program. How do you choose your skin care products? Do you go for the brand names, the most talked about lines or the ones the celebrities use? Or do you just use the same products you've used for years and years?

Have you ever wondered if there are cancer-causing chemicals in your skin care products? If you're a typical working woman, you probably use about 12 different skin care and personal care products every day. A great deal of the chemicals in those products goes directly into your bloodstream. Now, if all the ingredients in those products were good for you, it wouldn't be a problem. However, that's not the case.

Maybe you've heard in the news recently that cancer-causing chemicals have been found in skin care products, even those sold in health food stores. But if you didn't, you're not alone. Many women, just like you, have been using body care products containing harmful ingredients without even knowing it.

There are no laws to make sure the ingredients in the products you buy are safe. You see, the cosmetics industry is unregulated. Except for color additives and a few ingredients which are banned, manufacturers can use any ingredients they want in the cosmetics and skin care products they make ... without approval from the FDA or any other government agency.

Why is this important to you?

Cancer has been the second leading cause of death in the U. S. for many years ... and it still is. Even children are getting cancer. It's the leading cause of death in children under 15.

Even if you've never had a brush with cancer, it's highly likely that you know of family members, relatives or friends who have or had cancer. Almost everyone does. Have you ever wondered why?

You see, there are cancer-causing chemicals everywhere these days. Many of them we have no control over, for example, in the air we breathe. But some we do, like in the products we use on our bodies - soaps, shampoos, lotions, cosmetics, toothpaste, sunscreen - anything we use for personal care and to make our bodies look attractive.

The products you use for personal hygiene should help you stay healthy, not make you sick. It's essential for you to be able to determine the safety of the products you use ... before you buy.

Here are five important questions you should ask before you purchase any cosmetics, skin care or body care products:

1. Can I believe what it says on the label?

Manufacturers spend millions of dollars designing the packaging of the products they make to entice you to buy their goods. 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 you see in yourself, real or imagined, there is most likely a product on the market that promises to fix it. They also use words like organic and natural on the front of the package when, in reality, the product inside is far from organic or natural. They can get away with this because organic and natural are officially undefined in the cosmetics and personal care industry.

2. Does this product contain any cancer-causing ingredients?

Cancer-causing chemicals have been found in almost all types of skin care and body care products, even those sold in health food stores. A recent study found the cancer-causing contaminant 1,4-dioxane in body care products on the shelves of health food stores as well as regular grocery and drug stores. It was even in baby products.

3. Are there any other harmful ingredients in the product?

Cancer-causing chemicals aren't the only harmful substances found in your skin care and body care products. Even if the products you choose don't contain carcinogenic ingredients, you still need to make sure they don't include chemicals that disrupt your hormones, are toxic to your nervous system or immune system, or have not been tested for safety.

4. Is the manufacturer committed to producing safe and healthy products?

With more and more people choosing to buy organic products because of concerns about ingredient safety, companies that typically have not produced organic products are jumping onto the bandwagon to get their piece of the organic pie. Many of these companies are not really concerned about producing safe and healthy products. Sadly, their biggest concern is making sure they get a share of the profits from the organic trend.

5. Will the ingredients in this product harm the environment?

So many of the chemicals in use today, including those in body care products, have had a harmful effect on our ecosystem. Rivers and streams are contaminated. The ecological balance of the oceans has changed. Some plant and animal species are becoming extinct. Many of the chemicals used in our modern society have had a damaging effect on our world. The earth must be protected and preserved so future generations have a place to live.

What can you do to protect yourself, now and in the future?

Forget about the pretty packages...

...and what the manufacturer says about the product inside. That doesn't tell you anything about the safety of the item.

Read the ingredients list.

Find out if there are any cancer-causing chemicals or other harmful ingredients in the product. Learning how to identify the harmful ingredients is not hard. Get a handy little reference book that rates ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care products according to safety. You can take it with you when you shop and check the labels right in the store before you buy.

Know the manufacturer of the products you want to use.

Make sure they're committed to the safety of their products and preserving the environment, not in it just for the profits. There are a number of companies producing certified organic products now who only started with the growing popularity of the organic movement. Many of these companies banded together to create an organic standard that allows chemicals that should never be in organic products. And they continue to push for lower organic standards that allow synthetic chemicals and pesticides.

Reading ingredients and trying to figure out if the manufacturer really is committed to the health and safety of their products may sound like a lot of work. It can be ... if checking all your products for safe ingredients before you buy doesn't interest you. In addition, with a busy career, and trying to juggle your work and personal life, you just may not have the time.

There is an easier way.

Find someone who's already done it! You don't have to read ingredients lists and figure out if the chemicals in the product are safe. Never mind trying to figure out what all the research means and interpreting different codes and terminology. Your time will be better spent if you just get a good resource that lists only products that have already been thoroughly investigated and evaluated as safe.

There's no need to wonder if the cosmetics and skin care products you use contain cancer-causing chemicals or other harmful ingredients any more. Make it easy on yourself. Use the research that's already been done for you. Then all you have to do is pick and choose. Now what could be simpler than that?

Author's Bio: 

(c) 2009 Christine H. Farlow, D.C., "The Ingredients Investigator," author of Dying To Look Good "Best Brands," where you'll find lists of the safest and healthiest skin care products at http://www.DyingToLookGoodBestBrands.com and ingredient safety information at http://www.DyingToLookGood.com.