The Scientific Body of the European Commission Says Aluminum is Safe in Cosmetics
The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) is responsible for advising the European Commission on the health and safety risks of non-food consumer products, and has adopted a final opinion on the safety of aluminum in cosmetics. The committee believes that aluminum can generally be used safely in antiperspirants, toothpastes and lipsticks at the concentrations at which these products are formulated and sold.
CSSC’s final comments reiterated the terms of the preliminary comments submitted for comment at the end of last year. The committee gathered 17 independent experts in chemistry and toxicology and believed that it is safe to use aluminum compounds below the following aluminum equivalent concentrations:
- Non-spray deodorant or non-spray antiperspirant is 6.25%, spray deodorant is
- 10.60%, or spray antiperspirant,
- 2.65% in toothpaste and
- 0.77% of lipsticks.
Aluminum is a known high-dose systemic toxic substance. Therefore, its safety in cosmetics, especially in antiperspirants, has become the subject of many controversial and shocking media reports. Indeed, some studies have shown that cosmetics may be a more important source of exposure than food. In 2011, based on an in vitro study evaluating the absorption of aluminum into the skin, the French Agency for the Safety of Health Products (Afssaps) recommended a reassessment of the risks associated with the use of this substance in cosmetics. In 2013, a risk assessment issued by the Norwegian Food Safety Scientific Committee concluded that the contribution of cosmetics to total systemic aluminum exposure far exceeds the contribution of diet. These issues led SCCS to put forward opinions on aluminum in 2014. At the time, the scientific committee believed that there was a lack of sufficient data, especially data on the skin permeability of aluminum.
No skin absorption even through freshly shaved skin
The new opinions supplement and update opinions prior to 2014, taking into account the latest scientific data, especially data obtained from three studies, two of which date back to 2020. According to the committee, recent studies show that aluminum is hardly absorbed by the skin. It includes freshly shaved skin and is not stored in the skin.
Therefore, systemic exposure to aluminum through daily use of cosmetics "will not significantly increase" the burden of other sources of aluminum on the whole body. According to SCCS, exposure to aluminum may also come from sources other than cosmetics, especially diet.
"Among other things, the latest results indicate that the aluminum contained in antiperspirant products is neither absorbed by the skin nor stored. In addition, all the latest evaluations and bibliographies conducted by other scientific committees before 2017 have been reviewed and confirmed. "The products contained in cosmetics do not have any role in breast cancer," commented FEBEA, the French Federation of Beauty Companies, in a statement.
Taking into account the different exposure routes related to cosmetics (oral, skin, respiratory tract), the safety margin calculated by SCCS is always greater than 2,000. This means that the exposure of aluminum consumers is at least 2,000 times lower than the dose determined to be non-toxic. The assessment did not consider the daily dietary intake of aluminum.
Anne Dux, Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs of FEBEA, said: “This report concludes more than a decade of debates that have caused anxiety among consumers who use antiperspirant products. The European opinions that have just been issued through extremely strict procedures are for this reason. Users of similar products provide complete assurance that they are both safe and effective."
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