Published: 22 May 2023  (Updated: 22 May 2023)

ASA Ruling on ‘Free From’ Claims

Upheld ruling on a deodorant with misleading ‘aluminium-free’ claims.

On 17 May 2023, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a ruling against advertisements for a deodorant with misleading ‘aluminium-free’ claims, specifically claiming  to be less irritating, less harmful and better performing than deodorant products that contain aluminium.

The ASA considered that the information in the adverts and on the product website were likely to lead consumers to understand that many competing deodorant products could cause adverse effects or worsen body odour.  They also considered that there was a possibility that consumers would interpret the advert to mean that other products could have a negative impact, extending beyond the health conditions specifically referenced in the advert.

It was deemed by the ASA that consumers were likely to understand the adverts as making comparative claims and that the advertiser needed to hold robust scientific evidence to substantiate other products having a negative impact on health and body odour and that the advertised product was a safer alternative.

Overall, ASA concluded that the claims could not be substantiated and therefore the adverts were misleading.  The adverts must not appear again in the form raised in this case.

The CTPA Confidence in Cosmetics booklet presents consumer-facing information that explains the safety of key ingredients which are currently targeted by 'free from' claims, including aluminium. There is a strong body of scientific research that indicates very little aluminium crosses the skin from the application of antiperspirants.  This small amount would be a minor source of exposure to aluminium compared with all the other sources (such as food and drink), and well within safe levels established by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

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