This collection of frequently asked questions (FAQ) provides brief answers to common questions about deodorant actives.
Why do many deodorants claim aluminium-free?
Aluminium salts are used in antiperspirants to reduce sweat. The most frequently used salt is aluminium chlorohydrate. Due to public discussions consumers have been made insecure about the use of antiperspirants with aluminium salts. In some media these antiperspirants have been linked to the development of breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Currently, there is no scientific evidence supporting these claims.
Statements from organisations:
German BfR (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment): "The estimated intake of aluminium from antiperspirants could possibly lie within the range determined by the European Food Safety Authority as the tolerable weekly intake. As aluminium is also ingested from other sources, such as food, this level could be exceeded by part of the population. To prevent too high an intake of aluminium, excessive use of antiperspirants containing aluminium should therefore be avoided. In addition to this, deodorants that do not contain aluminium salts should be used after shaving or if the skin in the armpits is damaged."
American Cancer Society: "There are no strong epidemiologic studies in the medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, and very little scientific evidence to support this claim."
National Cancer Institute: "There is no conclusive research linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer."
What are the facts about triclosan?
Triclosan is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial included in deodorants as an active ingredient.
In the EU, triclosan is authorized as a preservative in Annex V of the Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2006, but is not permitted in spray deodorants. In the US, it is under review by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration): "Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. But several scientific studies have come out since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient that merit further review. Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. In light of these studies, FDA is engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of this ingredient. FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time."
Triclosan has been widely detected worldwide in soils and surface waters due to its widespread use. It is chemically very stable, but brakes down rapidly in the environment when exposed to light, ozone or chlorinated water and forms radicals. Existing levels of triclosan in the environment might affect the growth of microorganisms.
Some bacteria have developed mechanisms of defence against triclosan. Antibiotics and triclosan sometimes work in similar ways. Laboratory studies have shown that when exposed to triclosan, bacteria can develop genetic resistance that can make them resistant to other antimicrobials or, worse, to antibiotics. Such cross-resistance could have severe consequences for public health.
Ref.: Opinion on triclosan (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety SCCS/1251/09)
Can I use schülke actives as triclosan replacement?
Both sensiva® SC 50 and sensidin® DO are excellent, mild triclosan replacements. The efficacy of both schülke deodorant actives has been proven in sniff tests compared to triclosan.
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