What Is Personal Care?

Personal care is a genre of consumer goods that individuals use to maintain their personal hygiene or physical appearance. Some personal care products, also known as toiletries, are developed to address issues of personal cleanliness and basic grooming. Other personal care items might be over-the-counter drugs, depending on the laws in the jurisdiction where they are sold. In other cases, these items might function primarily as aesthetic enhancements, though some products might also address hygiene issues while improving one's appearance.

Perhaps the best-known category of personal care items is that of basic toiletries, which are used to keep a person clean and to prevent the development of unpleasant body odors. These items include oral hygiene products, body and hair cleansers and underarm deodorants. Other personal care products include feminine hygiene items such as tampons, feminine sprays and sanitary pads. All of these items typically are available in a variety of stores, including pharmacies grocery stores and convenience stores. Many specialty health food stores also do a brisk business in so-called organic or natural personal care products because there is a demand for these items by people who are concerned about the use of chemicals.

In addition to items that are considered in many modern, industrialized countries to be necessary for maintaining appropriate hygiene, personal care items also include items that enhance, rather than just maintain, a person's appearance. These items include color cosmetics, moisturizing skin creams and hair removal tools and products such as razors and depilatory creams. It is not unusual, however, for an item that is marketed as a beauty enhancer to act as a hygiene product as well. For example, a scented body wash might contain perfumes and moisturizers that can improve the appearance of a user's skin and make him or her smell nice while also cleansing the skin.

Some personal care items, such as antiperspirants, might be classified as over-the-counter drugs. This is because they can affect body processes and make certain claims that government health agencies believe need to be documented. In addition to antiperspirants, some skincare products, such as sunscreen or acne medication, might also be considered over-the-counter drugs. When shopping for personal care products, consumers should be aware of this distinction, especially if they are hoping to address a particular health condition or medical condition by using a specific product.

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