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SCCS Issued a Preliminary Opinion on Salicylic Acid

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On December 15, 2022, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) issued a preliminary opinion on salicylic acid (CAS No. 69-72-7) to assess the safety of salicylic acid in cosmetics for public comments. The deadline for the public consultation is February 17, 2023.

Based on the data available, the SCCS is of the opinion that the maximum safe concentration of salicylic acid as a preservative is 0.5%:

  • the use of salicylic acid as a preservative up to a maximum concentration of 0.5% is safe in either oral or dermal products, but not safe in oral and dermal products together for adults, adolescents, and children (>3 years).
  • the provided information shows that salicylic acid is an eye irritant with the potential to cause serious damage to the eye.
  • this Opinion is not applicable to any sprayable product that may lead to exposure of the end-user’s lungs by inhalation. Since the Cosmetic Regulation does not allow the use of salicylic acid in products for children under three years of age, this age category has not been considered in this Opinion.

In other situations, the maximum safe concentrations of salicylic acid in cosmetics are:

  • 3.0% for cosmetic rinse-off hair products;
  • 2.0% for other products except for body lotion, eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, non-spray deodorant; and
  • 0.5% for body lotion, eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, oral products, and non-spray deodorant.

To use salicylic acid safely in cosmetic products, applicants may consider either reducing the maximum use levels of salicylic acid in one or more product categories and/or excluding the use for one or more product categories. The conclusions of this Opinion refer only to Salicylic Acid as a cosmetic ingredient and not to other salicylates or salicylic acid salts.

CIRS Group has launched a Chinese Cosmetic Ingredient Regulatory Database (China CosIng) that allows domestic and overseas cosmetic companies and ingredient suppliers to quickly search whether a cosmetic ingredient or substance is listed in the cosmetic catalogs in China.

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