Skip to content

Aluminium salts

A person using a deodorant

Aluminium salts have been used for over half a century as the active ingredient in antiperspirants to control sweat and associated body odour. In fact, the traditional use of aluminium to combat body odour dates back hundreds of years, in regions like Europe, Mexico, Thailand and Asia. Today, aluminium salts help millions of people around the world feel and smell fresh, and enjoy more self-confidence.

Antiperspirant products containing aluminium salts are effective, extensively evaluated and safe to use on a regular basis. This view is supported by Unilever’s safety scientists, and a number of cancer experts, health charities and health authorities.

Your questions answered:

What are aluminium salts?

Aluminium salts are derived from aluminium, a common element on Earth. Aluminium occurs naturally in soil and water and is in many foods.

Why are aluminium salts used in antiperspirants?

Aluminium salts are an antiperspirant’s active ingredient – to control sweat and associated body odour. When an antiperspirant is applied, the salts dissolve in the sweat or moisture in the underarm. The dissolved substance forms a gel, which creates a temporary ‘plug’ in the sweat gland, reducing the amount of sweat that can rise to the skin’s surface. Aluminium salts are also natural antimicrobial agents, so they control bacteria on the skin, reducing unpleasant odours.

What is the difference between an antiperspirant and a deodorant?

Antiperspirants work in two ways: by preventing sweat reaching the skin surface and by controlling the bacteria that cause body odour. Deodorants do not affect the flow of sweat, they simply prevent body odour.

Are aluminium salts safe?

Antiperspirants have been used for more than half a century and are effective, extensively evaluated and safe to use on a regular basis. Safety is a priority for Unilever and all our products are rigorously assessed before being made available on the market. We also review all new research, as well as helping to fund studies to provide additional reassurance.

Does using an antiperspirant increase the chance of breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease?

Various research studies have looked for a link between aluminium in antiperspirants and breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. However, cancer experts, charities and health authorities, including the US Food and Drug Administration and the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, say there is no convincing scientific evidence that the risk of breast cancer or Alzheimer’s increases with antiperspirant use.

By blocking sweat glands, do antiperspirants stop people shedding harmful toxins?

No. Around 95% of toxins are expelled from the body via the liver and kidneys. The body sweats to control its temperature, not to remove toxins. Most of the body’s 2-5 million sweat glands are not found in our underarms and so are not affected by antiperspirants. Only 1% of the body’s sweat is produced in the armpit. We’re just more aware of it because it doesn’t evaporate as easily as elsewhere on the body.

Are there alternatives to antiperspirant products with aluminium salts?

People can choose to use our deodorants to control body odour and feel fresh. These products differ from antiperspirants in that they help to control the bacteria that cause body odour, but they do not contain aluminium salts that reduce the flow of sweat.

How can I tell which Unilever products contain aluminium salts?

The most common aluminium salt we use is aluminium chlorohydrate. The aluminium salts used in our antiperspirant products are included in the ingredient list on the product packaging.

There is no plausible evidence that the use of aluminium-containing cosmetics and skin care products can increase the risk of breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

EU Commission’s independent Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS)

Studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Almost all scientists today focus on other areas of research, and few experts believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.

Alzheimer’s Association, USA
Back to top