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Safety of aluminium in cosmetic products

In the recent past assessments and media reports were published which question the safety of aluminium compounds in cosmetic products. The assumptions made, according to which aluminium compounds are involved in the development of certain diseases, are not, however, based on secured scientific findings and are, therefore, not justified. Cosmetic products which contain aluminium compounds continue to be considered as safe and harmless to health. Consumers can continue to use the cosmetic products offered by retailers safely.

Aluminium and aluminium-containing compounds are used in various cosmetic products. In antiperspirants aluminium salts are for instance used as ingredients to narrow the pores and hence reduce the perspiration temporarily. But also lipsticks and toothpaste as well as other product categories such as face cream, body lotion, hair care or make-up can contain aluminium compounds as an additional ingredient, usually in low dosage. Whether a cosmetic product contains aluminium can be checked through the labelling of the ingredients of cosmetic products (in accordance with the so-called International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, INCI), which is mentioned on every product.

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), an independent scientific committee of the EU, stated in its assessment published in April 2014: “Carcinogenicity is not expected at the aluminium exposure levels which are achieved via cosmetic use.” Already at an earlier stage organisations such as the American Cancer Society as well as the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg confirmed that there is no scientifically provable connection between the use of antiperspirants and an increased breast cancer risk.

According to the assessment of SCCS, the assumption that aluminium in cosmetics is associated with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other neurodegenerative diseases, is likewise not scientifically tenable. The World Health Organisation stated on the basis of numerous studies in its report No. 194 of the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) that according to the current state of scientific knowledge, there is no relationship between the intake of aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the scientific assessment of the known data by IKW, the intake of aluminium remains within the weekly tolerable intake in the event of a normal daily use of antiperspirants. This also applies to the application on shaved skin. During typical shaving of the armpits only a low amount of the upper layer of skin is removed as a rule, according to findings of IKW. This corresponds to the amount of skin particles which are normally scrubbed from the skin in the course of a day. Antiperspirants can be applied without any concerns on shaved skin, too.

SCCS, too, does not see any scientifically reliable facts for the hypothesis that the use of antiperspirants leads to the intake of harmful amounts of aluminium.

Comprehensive tests of the products and many years of experience of the companies represented within IKW show that antiperspirants with aluminium salts are safe and effective products. This is proven by a large number of data within the framework of comprehensive safety assessments. In order to enlarge the database, another study has been commissioned. The cosmetics industry is in a direct exchange with the competent authorities such as the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in this matter and will make available the results to these public authorities for further assessments.

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