Aluminium in antiperspirants and deodorants: Not as harmful as expected

Aluminium is an important component for several cosmetic products, in particular for antiperspirants. While usual deodorants cover unpleasant odors with antibacterial agents and perfumes, antiperspirants form protein plugs in the pores of the sweat glands and stop unpleasant wetness in the armpits[1].

SCCS Opinion: No significant burden

In its opinion issued in March 2020[2], the Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety (SCCS) declares the use of aluminium in antiperspirants, toothpastes and lipsticks, as safe for human health when used with concentrations up to the following:

  • 6.25% in non-spray deodorants or antiperspirants
  • 10.60% in spray deodorants or antiperspirants
  • 2.65% in toothpaste
  • 0.77 % in lipstick

The SCCS further concludes that, considering low absorption of Aluminum through human skin, daily application of cosmetic products does not add a significant burden to the human body.

In the light of the revised data, also the BfR issued a new assessment in July 2020, concluding that the total body burden of aluminium caused by antiperspirants would be much lower than assumed and adverse health effects resulting from the daily use of antiperspirants would be unlikely[3].

Aluminium: A matter of discussion

Several discussions were held about the safety of aluminum in cosmetic products. It has been associated with several effects on organs of the human body, especially kidneys, liver and bones, as well as with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia[4].

The majority of aluminium exposure occurs through food intake, e.g. via non-processed fruits, vegetables, cereals, etc. In 2008, considering the estimated Aluminium exposure through food, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) proposed a tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 1.0 mg aluminium/kg bw/week[5].

During the years, the unclear situation and consumer’s fears have been used to market aluminium-free deodorants in numerous campaigns. In Germany, uncertainties have been additionally enforced by several media, sometimes based on hasty interpretations of scientific opinions issued by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) at that time[6].

[1] https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2017/SM/C6SM02510B#!divAbstract

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_235.pdf

[3] https://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/349/new-studies-on-antiperspirants-containing-aluminium-impairments-to-health-unlikely-as-a-result-of-aluminium-uptake-via-the-skin.pdf

[4] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0753332216308526

[5] https://www.efsa.europa.eu/de/efsajournal/pub/754

[6] https://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/349/aluminium-containing-antiperspirants-contribute-to-aluminium-intake.pdf

 



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