HomeConsum-actorsAluminum-free roll-on deodorants, 13 compared

Aluminum-free roll-on deodorants, 13 compared

Aluminum-free deodorants may contain other unwanted substances. The German magazine Öko Test examined and analyzed 39 of the roll-on type in the laboratory, of which 13 are also available in Italy. (1)

The function of aluminum in deodorants

Aluminum salts they are included in the formula of antiperspirant deodorants for their ability to clog pores and limit sweating. Excessive exposure to aluminum, however, is related to neurotoxic effects and kidney damage.

Aluminum it also accumulates in the body. Therefore, although the absorption of the metal through the skin through the use of deodorants is minimal, it adds to the various additional sources of daily exposure, which also occurs through disposable films and trays, cans, pans, coffee pots and pots. (2)

Roll-ons without aluminium, how to recognize them

The offer of roll-on deodorants without aluminium, it is now large enough to be accessible to all budgets. These products do not inhibit sweating, but aim to eliminate the odor using active ingredients with antimicrobial properties and fragrances. They can be found in pharmacies, parapharmacies, herbalist's shops, supermarkets and, obviously, online.

Certified deodorants as natural cosmetics they never contain aluminum (and problematic and/or polluting synthetic substances). The others are recognizable by the presence of the claims 'without aluminium', 'without aluminum salts' or '0% aluminium'.

Laboratory analyzes

Roll-on deodorants have been analyzed in various independent laboratories on behalf of Öko Test to identify questionable or worrying ingredients:

– substances that release formaldehyde, a contact allergen that can irritate the skin. Since 2019, the use of pure formaldehyde as a preservative in cosmetics has been prohibited. However, the use of substances that can break down and release substances is still permitted. Products sold in the EU containing such substances will soon have to bear the words 'breaks down formaldehyde' if a certain concentration is exceeded. However, products without the warning may be sold until summer 2026. (3)

- nitro-musk compounds and polycyclic musk, allergenic and non-biodegradable,

- cashmere, artificial fragrance that can accumulate in human adipose tissue and is difficult to biodegrade,

- diethylphthalate (DEP), a substance just banned by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) because it is suspected of affecting human hormone levels,

- fragrances which require declaration because they can trigger allergies (such as hydroxycitronella) and aluminium.

Claim and formula

Label analysis instead it was worth verifying four aspects:

1) the presence among the ingredients of PEG and their derivatives (substances obtained from petroleum) and synthetic polymers. The former are used as emulsifiers and make the skin permeable, therefore they convey any harmful substances. The latter are very polluting for the environment, where they are dispersed through domestic waste with the shower,

2) the validity of advertising claims such as 'hypoallergenic' or 'climate neutral',

3) the truthfulness of the declarations of use of recycled plastic material in the bottles. In addition to verifying its plausibility, Öko Test had laboratory analyzes carried out to detect the possible presence of PVC/PVDC/chlorinated compounds,

4) the reliability of the deodorant duration, when indicated on the label (usually 48 hours). The manufacturers were asked to produce studies on effectiveness, to verify

– whether the advertised duration of action refers to the entire product or only to some components of the formulation,

– if at least 20 subjects and three expert examiners are involved in the olfactory tests,

– if a statistically significant difference emerged between the treated and untreated armpits and if individual results are available.

Certified natural and organic cosmetics

Deodorants roll-ons certified as natural or organic cosmetics examined are generally free of unwanted and/or polluting substances, such as PEGs.

Of the five examined, four are judged with top marks: Benecos, Dr. Hauschka, Lavera and Weleda.

The Biotherm, however, is downgraded to 'medium' due to the insufficient deodorant duration compared to that declared (24 hours), the failure to use recycled material in the packaging and the declared presence (but not found in the laboratory) of citronellol, an essence at risk allergy.

aluminum-free deodorants

Big brands and discounters

Among the eight deodorants roll-ons presented as 'aluminium-free' the opinion is more variable.

Just two are rated as 'very good': the Nuxe and the Cien. The latter is from Lidl's cosmetics line, which is very economical and usually formulated without unwanted ingredients. L'Occitane deodorant is good.

aluminum-free deodorants

The worst

According to analyzes by Öko Test, among the thirteen deodorants also available in Italy there are four that do not pass the test:

Two are rated mediocre:

– Avene loses points due to the presence in the formulation of a PEG derivative and polluting synthetic polymers. Furthermore, the packaging does not contain recycled plastic and a comprehensive study on the claimed effectiveness has not been provided.

– Nivea Original Care 0%, in addition to containing PEG derivatives and plastic compounds, provided an efficacy study judged unclear by Öko Test.

Two more they are judged scarce:

- Where (Unilever) is criticized for failing to provide complete documentation on the deodorant effectiveness declared on the label and on the use of recycled material in the packaging. The product also contains PEG derivatives and problematic fragrances, such as isoeugenol, one of the most potent fragrance allergens.

– Vichy (l'Oreal group) is rejected because the ingredients include PEG and laboratory analyzes have identified significant quantities of formaldehyde. The 'hypoallergenic' claim is also contested, as it can confuse allergic consumers, and the failure to provide material proving the declared efficacy and the use of recycled plastic in the packaging is stigmatised.

Marta Strinati


(1) Dimitrj Rudenko, Giulia Dibiasi. Marken wenig dufte. Öko test. June 2024 https://www.oekotest.de/

(2) Marta Strinati. Aluminum and food, how to reduce the risk of contamination. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(3) COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2023/1464 of 14 July 2023 amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards formaldehyde and products that release formaldehyde. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32023R1464

Marta Strinati

Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".

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