Written on 07.05.2020. Posted in ingredient series.
The EU just published a new opinion on the safety of aluminium in skincare products in April. Looks like there is not much to be concerned about. However, the vast majority of aluminium entering your body doesn't come via the skin anyway.
Aluminium is a metallic chemical element that is one of the most abundant elements in nature. As part of different compounds it is used in many cosmetic products such as antiperspirants, lipsticks, toothpaste and makeup. There are more than 50 different registered compounds that are used in cosmetics. In total, we found that about 12% of all cosmetic products contain some aluminium compound.
The most extensively used aluminium compound in cosmetic products is aluminium chlorohydrate in antiperspirants. It forms aluminium hydroxide polymer gel plugs within sweat ducts to prevent sweat from reaching the surface of the skin. Once applied on the skin, they form chemically inert complexes with the basic components of sweat and skin. The relatively high molecular weight of the compounds, and high positive charge prevents skin penetration.
Aluminium colorants are mainly used in lipsticks. They are prepared by reacting aluminium oxide with organic pigments to make them insoluble in water. Due to the complex molecular structures and high molecular weights, the aluminium represents only a small part of the weight of the product.
1. Does the Scientific Council for Consumer Safety consider that Aluminium compounds are safe in antiperspirants and other cosmetic products such as lipsticks and toothpastes?
The SCCS considers that the use of aluminium compounds is safe at the following equivalent aluminium concentrations up to: 6% in non-spray deodorants or non-spray antiperspirants, 11% in spray deodorants or spray antiperspirants, 2% in toothpaste and 1% in lipstick.
2. Does the SCCS have any further scientific concerns regarding the use of Aluminium compounds in cosmetic products taking into account exposure from other sources?
The SCCS considers that the systemic exposure to aluminium via daily applications of cosmetic products does is not significant compared to the intake of aluminium from other sources. Exposure to aluminium may also occur from sources other than cosmetic products, such as water and food.
Available data indicates that aluminium compounds have moderate to low toxicity when swallowed and there is no evidence for toxicity via the skin. Within the regulatory limits they do not lead to skin irritations and are not skin sensitizing. The allergic potential is not investigated well, but given the widespread use among consumers, the SCCS considers it to be rare. If aluminium enters the body (through the skin or in other ways), it does not accumulate and is mostly excreted within 24h.