What is the SAG-CS? An insight into the assessment of cosmetic ingredients in the UK

April 3, 2023 – Brexit had an impact also on the regulatory framework of cosmetic products. After December 31, 2020, cosmetics in the UK must comply with the UK Cosmetics Regulation. The UK adopted the EU annexes to the Cosmetics Regulation until Brexit; as of that date, EU and UK annexes diverge.

Therefore, the UK had to set up its own system for assessing and restricting cosmetic substances. In light of this, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has established the SAG-CS.

SAG-CS stands for Scientific Advisory Group on Chemical Safety of Non-Food and Non-Medicinal Consumer Products, and it provides the OPSS with scientific advice on substances used in consumer products. Hence, the SAG-CS issues its opinions on the safety of substances of concern in cosmetic products, toys, and textiles.

Essentially, the SAG-CS mirrors the role of the SCCS in the EU. In fact, when the OPSS has doubts about the safety of a substance, it mandates the SAG-CS to evaluate the safety of that substance in cosmetic products. The UK government considers the SAG-CS opinions when deciding whether to ban or restrict ingredients.

SAG-CS opinions

Since its creation, the SAG-CS has assessed the safety in cosmetic products of Deoxyarbutin, Salicylic acid, Methyl-N-methylanthranilate, HAA2999 (in bulk and nano form), and Formaldehyde releasers.

These opinions show the alignment of the SAG-CS with the conclusions of the SCCS. It is worth mentioning that a good scientific practice is to take into consideration all available data on the safety of ingredients, hence SCCS opinions should be taken into account by the SAG-CS. Consequently, the UK government has adopted the following provisions:

  • Ban on Deoxyarbutin in cosmetic products from December 15, 2022, for new products and from March 15, 2023, for products already on the market;
  • New restrictions for Salicylic acid as of the same dates.

Furthermore, the UK is also expected to follow the EU with regard to other ingredient updates adopted by the European Commission after January 1, 2021. At the moment, the divergences between the EU and the UK on ingredient status are simply a result of UK’s delayed implementation. In fact, for a substance to be banned or restricted in the UK as well, it has to undergo the SAG-CS evaluation and then follow the legislative process. However, we cannot exclude that in the future, there will be more substantial differences in the regulatory status of cosmetic ingredients in the EU and the UK.


You can check the status of newly restricted and banned ingredients in our Watch-out database.

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Gov.uk. (2023). Scientific Advisory Group on Chemical Safety in Consumer Products. Retrieved on 15/03/2023
Gov.uk. (2022). Planned changes to toys and cosmetics regulations. Retrieved on 15/03/2023
legislation.gov.uk. The Toys and Cosmetic Products (Restriction of Chemical Substances) Regulations 2022. Retrieved on 15/03/2023

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