Even experts don't always agree that chemical exposure is too much. There are very limited tests to check an individual's exposure level. But researchers say people should choose products that do not increase overall toxin exposure when and where possible. This is especially important when the body is going through key cellular and hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, early childhood, and adolescence.

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You don't have to radically change your routine overnight. Many researchers who study environmental toxins admit to still holding onto some of their favorite creams and sprays that contain questionable ingredients. Most people believe that switching to safer personal care products is a slow, lifelong process akin to eating healthier foods: you can take stock of what's on or in you from time to time, and update the cart with better options when buying new items. This is the place to start.

Know which chemical are a concern

The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates cosmetic products in the United States, has banned about a dozen ingredients for safety reasons. (Hundreds more are banned in Canada, Japan, and the European Union.) Before chemical can be regulated in the United States, they must meet a high standard of harm to humans. For example, many studies in animals and some in humans have established a link between cancers later in life and exposure to many of the following chemical, but they remain legitimate and widespread because there is not yet strong enough evidence to prove cause and effect.

Several states, including California and Maryland, have enacted laws that will take effect in January 2025 banning the use of other chemical based on mounting observational evidence.

While not an exhaustive list, here's a look at some of the common chemical listed in recent state bans, as well as chemical that are frequently flagged by researchers and consumer advocacy groups. The chemical appears on the ingredient list of products that contain them.