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Ingredient in the spotlight: Benzophenone-4

Among the wide range of ingredients found in cosmetics products, one compound that has drawn attention is Benzophenone-4, which has recently been evaluated by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SSCS)

What is Benzophenone-4? 

Benzophenone-4, with the chemical name 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone-5-sulphonic acid, is an ingredient commonly used in sunscreens and other cosmetic products for its ability to absorb and filter ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It belongs to the family of benzophenone derivatives, which are often employed as UV filters due to their efficacy in protecting the skin from sun damage.  

Functions in cosmetics 

Benzophenone-4 is included in the list of UV filters permitted for use in cosmetic products (annex VI to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009) in the European Union, being restricted to a maximum concentration of 5%. Its primary function in cosmetics is to provide protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation.  

Benzophenone-4 absorbs UV light across a broad range of UV wavelengths and, therefore, protects the skin from damage by UVB and UVA light.  

In addition, Benzophenone-4 is also reported with the functions of UV-stabilizer and UV-absorber protecting cosmetic formulations against sunlight, enhancing the photostability of cosmetic formulations.  

Safety concerns 

While Benzophenone-4 is widely used in cosmetics, its safety profile has been subject to high scrutiny and debate by regulatory and scientific bodies. 

Concerns have been especially raised regarding the potential endocrine-disrupting effects of Benzophenone-4. Studies suggest that certain benzophenone derivatives, including Benzophenone-4, may possess estrogenic activity, raising questions about their long-term effects on hormone balance and reproductive health.  

SCCS Opinion 

On April 4, 2024, the SCCS issued a scientific opinion on Benzophenone-4 following a request from the European Commission. 

On the basis of the safety assessment, and considering the concerns related to potential endocrine disrupting properties, the SCCS is of the opinion that Benzophenone-4 is safe when used as UV filter up to a maximum concentration of 5% in sunscreen, face and hand cream, all leave-on and rinse-off products (total dermal aggregate), lipstick, sunscreen propellant spray and pump spray, when used separately or in combination (based on deterministic aggregated exposure). 

Any additional use of benzophenone-4, such as protectant for stabilizing cosmetic formulations when exposed to light, should remain within the concentration mentioned above (i.e. 5%), including the use as UV-filter. 


CosmeticsInfo. Benzophenone-4 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. Amended Safety Assessment of Benzophenones as Used in Cosmetics. 2021 

Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS). Opinion on benzophenone – 4 (CAS No. 4065-45-6, EC No. 223-772-2) used in cosmetics products. preliminary version of 14 December 2023, final version of 27 March 2024, SCCS/1660/23 

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