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Dangers of Aluminum Powder In Cosmetics: Is Aluminum Powder Safe?

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I’m quite sure that most of us only know about aluminum in it’s final form, which is often as aluminum powder. This is a malleable metal that can be used in manufacturing cans, foils, kitchen utensils, car parts, airplane parts and window frames to name but a few.

So it’s easy for us to see that aluminum is clearly a highly versatile and useful material. This is especially true when it comes to creating things that we generally experience ‘outside’ our bodies. We use our hands to pick up a metal can of soda, but how does aluminum affect us internally?

Something most of us are not aware of is the fact that a large amount of the products we come into contact with on a daily basis may contain small amounts of aluminum. This includes food products, drinks and most of the personal care products we use such as deodorants, shampoos, conditioners and especially cosmetics.

But don’t drop your jaw just yet. The average American consumes around 7-9 mg of the stuff a day. This should really raise your alarm bells. Let’s take a moment to investigate this element and it’s uses in many of the products  we use regularly. Can we afford to turn a blind eye to the ingredients list of all the products we buy so often? I think it’s about time we find out!

What Is Aluminum Powder?

Grey powder.

Is aluminum powder dangerous?

Aluminum powder, as we’re most likely to encounter it, is essentially a byproduct from aluminum manufacturing. Aluminum powder is created by gathering up aluminum off-cuts of various other parts or products. It then melts together to form a solid block or cylinder.

This cylinder is then ground down into a powder and separated again in order to create an even finer powder. This form of aluminum powder is generally used for more industrial uses. However, aluminum also occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. It happens to be considered to be the most abundant metal in nature.

Generally, its best to use aluminum that we mine directly from the earth, and keep it as close to it’s natural form as possible (i.e. we don’t chemically alter it.)

How Is Aluminum Powder Used In Cosmetics?

Eyeshadows stacked.

How aluminum is used in cosmetics.

The question is less about how manufacturers are able to use aluminum powder in their products, and more about why. However, we’ll get into that a little later in the article. For now though, it’s important to know that aluminum powder is generally used as colorant. It helps to impart cosmetics products with a whiter color or hue.

Since it’s a toxic substance, lip products should never contain it. Therefore, if you ever manage to find a lip-gloss or a lipstick with aluminum powder in it put it back immediately, and switch it for a natural lip product.

While it’s not the most influential or controversial ingredient in the realm of modern cosmetics – it’s still definitely something worth debating. I’m quite sure that modern science can provide us with ‘white’ colorants at less of a risk to health overall. So it stands to reason, we should stop using something that we know to be a toxic substance.

Dangers And Effects Of Aluminum Powder Explained

The effects of aluminum powder can be quite harmful. This is especially true when it’s being used in hair, skin and food products. However, just because you’ve ingested aluminum, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get ill immediately.

There are numerous variables that determine your reaction to the toxic powder. Some of these include your sex, age, genes, lifestyle, diet and state of health.

There are a few common issues that can come up when people ingest aluminum powder. Knowing what to keep an eye out for can help you avoid the health issues associated with this metal.

Some seem to claim that the ingestion of aluminum powder can result in the formation of Alzheimer’s disease over time due to a build up of the element in our bodies. However, there isn’t enough scientific proof to back this up.

Many seem to agree that aluminum powder is a toxic substance that we should handle with extreme caution. However, it is difficult for doctors to determine the exact way it negatively affects the body.

There is evidence that aluminum powder can lead to organ-system toxicity. It also may disrupt hormone balance. It is even being linked to neuro-toxicity over time, since it can accumulate within the body. However, it is clear that the element doesn’t have the same effect on every person, so it is difficult to pinpoint the exact way in which is harms the body.

Some may use aluminum powder based products their entire life and never have a problem. Others might use one of these products once and have an immediate reaction. My answer? Best to keep away rather than find out the hard way. We should not ingest or put anything on our skin that could be hazardous to our health.

Natural Alternatives To Aluminum Powder Explained

Mortar and pestle with flowers inside.

There are natural alternatives.

In general, most of us don’t really think about the ingredients that cosmetic companies use or why they choose them. It is only once we have a through understanding of what role the ingredient plays in a certain recipe that we can determine a healthy natural alternative to that ingredient.

However, in most cases, a recipe will change completely if you exchange a single ingredient with another that does not have similar properties to the one you’ve replaced. For this reason, I tend to stay with brands that only use natural ingredients for their entire recipe.

In the case of aluminum powder, I would recommend using Kaolin White Clay as a suitable alternative. While it may not be as cheap as aluminum powder, kaolin white clay does a lot to help create a solid, lasting white color plus it’s natural – so you don’t have to worry about any serious health ramifications for using it either.

If you’re not getting the desired results from kaolin white clay and would like to experiment with something a little ‘whiter’, I’d recommend trying titanium dioxide oil. While it may not be the most natural option out there, we generally consider it safe in small amounts. It also creates a much brighter white tone than kaolin white clay.

Companies That Use Aluminum Powder In Their Products

Explaining why and how an ingredient is harmful to you is only one part of the battle. I may well have already convinced you that aluminum powder probably isn’t the ideal form of white colorant. Still, the truth is I’ve only done 50% of the work.

The best way to make sure that you manage to correctly avoid using products that contain this chemical is to tell you which products actually contain them. No one wants to scan a tiny list on the back of every product they buy for some chemical name that they can hardly identify let alone pronounce.

So to make your life a little easier, I’ve decided to compile a short-list of some of the most likely brands to contain aluminum powder in their products. I hope that this will help you to make the right choices when you’re out shopping next time. At the very least, you will be a better informed customer.

Brands That Use Aluminum Powder

  • Maybelline
  • L ‘Oreal
  • NARS
  • Covergirl
  • Stargazer
  • Urban Decay
  • Yves Saint Laurents
  • Avon
  • Revlon
  • Axe
  • Dove
  • Old Spice

Remember, these are just some of the more popular brands that you’re likely to encounter that contain aluminum powder. I would still advise you to check the ingredients lists at the back of your products to make certain that they’re free of any chemicals or ingredients that you’d wish to avoid.


There may still be some disagreement in the medical world regarding the effects of aluminum powder on our bodies. This is especially true in regards to the doses are used in cosmetics products. It does seems as though most agree that in a certain amount and over enough time, aluminum powder may wreak havoc on your health.

So perhaps it’s time for us to take a step back in order to get a better idea of what’s actually in many of the products that we use or consume on a daily basis, before they consume us!

We’ve come a long way since our cave dwelling days as ancient peoples, that much is true. Perhaps it’s time we stop simply believing that whatever a large company makes is completely good for us, and rediscover our natural roots.