Teeth whitening

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.

Trading Standards Services regulate the retail sale of teeth whitening products either directly sold to consumers or supplied to a consumer to take home to use themselves after a treatment has been carried out.

The General Dental Council (GDC) regulate the practice of Dentistry in accordance with The Dentists Act 1984. They have created a questions and answers document about teeth whitening that can be found on their website: General Dental Council (GDC) web site.

Environmental Health Departments regulate business premises such as Dentists, Beauty Salons and Clinics where cosmetic treatments are provided as a service to consumers

Teeth whitening products

These products are generally sold in kits and normally consist of a gel containing chemicals and other ingredients that react under particular conditions to whiten the appearance of the teeth of the person using the product.

Not all products are the same and there are varying views as to the general safety of teeth whitening products. Some ingredients are subject to legal restrictions or are banned from being used in this type of product.

The law

All teeth whitening products are considered to be cosmetic products and as such all new cosmetics being marketed within the European Union (including the UK) must comply with the requirements of EC Regulation 1223/ 2009 on Cosmetic Products (the Cosmetic Products Regulation).

It is illegal to sell teeth whitening products at retail level that contain or release more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. Please note that other ingredients in teeth whitening products may also be subject to similar controls.

The person who originally markets a cosmetic product in the EU, which is likely to be the manufacturer or an importer, should ensure that the product complies with all applicable requirements of the Cosmetic Products Regulation.

For more detailed advice about the EC Regulation 1223/ 2009 on Cosmetic Products please read our guidance on cosmetic products.

Selling the products

If you sell teeth whitening packs to consumers for their own use you need to check with the supplier that the products being supplied to you comply with the legal requirements of the Cosmetic Products Regulation. You can ask to see a sample to check the labelling is correct and ask to see test certification for example.

If you are importing cosmetic products from outside the European Community you must ensure these products comply with the Cosmetic Products Regulation.

Please contact Trading Standards if you are considering importing or selling cosmetic products and require further advice.

Providers of services

Trading Standards received a number of enquiries from Dentists and Beauty Therapists concerning who is legally permitted to carry out teeth whitening practices. This is not always questioning the safety of a product but instead about who can provide a teeth whitening service to consumers, and in this instance individuals will need to contact the GDC for advice.

Tooth Whitening - who can do what? (Chartered Trading Standards Institute)