In vitro study of percutaneous absorption of aluminum from antiperspirants through human skin in the Franz™ diffusion cell

J Inorg Biochem. 2012 May;110:21-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2012.02.013. Epub 2012 Feb 25.


Aluminum salts such as aluminum chlorohydrate (ACH) are known for use as an active antiperspirant agent that blocks the secretion of sweat. A local case report of hyperaluminemia in a woman using an aluminum-containing antiperspirant for 4 years raises the problem of transdermal absorption of aluminum (Al). Only a very limited number of studies have shown that the skin is an effective barrier to transdermal uptake of Al. In accordance with our analytical procedure, the aim of this study with an in vitro Franz™ diffusion cell was to measure aluminum uptake from three cosmetic formulations of antiperspirant: the base for an "aerosol" (38.5% of ACH), a "roll-on" emulsion (14.5% ACH), and a "stick" (21.2%), by samples of intact and stripped human skin (5 donors). The Al assays were performed by Zeeman Electrothermal Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (ZEAAS). Following contacts lasting 6, 12 and 24h, the Al assays showed only insignificant transdermal absorption of Al (≤0.07% of the quantity of Al deposited) and particularly low cutaneous quantities that varied according to the formulations (1.8 μg/cm² for "aerosol base" and "stick" - 0.5 μg/cm² for the "roll-on"). On stripped skin, for which only the "stick" formulation was tested, the measured uptake was significantly higher (11.50 μg/cm² versus 1.81 μg/cm² for normal skin). These results offer reassurance as regards to the use of antiperspirants for topical application of ACH-containing cosmetic formulations on healthy skin over a limited time span (24h). On the other hand, high transdermal Al uptake on stripped skin should compel antiperspirant manufacturers to proceed with the utmost caution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Adult
  • Aluminum / pharmacokinetics*
  • Aluminum / pharmacology
  • Antiperspirants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antiperspirants / pharmacology
  • Cosmetics / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cosmetics / pharmacology
  • Emulsions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / metabolism*


  • Antiperspirants
  • Cosmetics
  • Emulsions
  • Aluminum