Review of aluminum, paraben, and sulfate product disclaimers on personal care products

Walter Liszewski*, Abu Jaafar Zaidi, Elise Fournier, Andrew Scheman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Product disclaimers listed on personal care products face limited regulation. These disclaimers may be helpful or may mislead the public. Objective: Review the evidence supporting the potential harms of 3 compounds commonly addressed by product disclaimers: parabens, aluminum, and sulfates. Methods: Reported cases of adverse events to these compounds were identified. Trends in allergic contact dermatitis reactions to chemicals used in place of these compounds were also identified. Results: There is limited evidence that parabens and aluminum pose a threat to human health; there is even less evidence that topical sulfate-containing products pose a danger to consumers. In the setting of paraben avoidance, there has been a steady increase in cases of allergic contact dermatitis to preservatives that are more allergenic, specifically the isothiazolinones. Limitations: Assessment of the toxicology of these compounds is ongoing and may change with new data. Conclusion: There is limited evidence that parabens, aluminum, and sulfates used in personal care products pose a health risk. There is evidence that avoidance of parabens has resulted in an epidemic of allergic contact dermatitis to isothiazolonine preservatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • ACD
  • allergic contact dermatitis
  • antiperspirants
  • carcinogens
  • chemistry
  • contact dermatitis
  • dermatitis
  • formulation sodium lauryl sulfate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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