Formulating cosmetics with Salicylic acid

Formulating cosmetics with Salicylic acid
July 18, 2019 Aidee Erhime
Propylene Glycol

Salicylic acid (2-hydroxybenzoic acid) is a BetaHydroxy Acid (BHA) that effectively dries up acne. It is used in many cosmetics products including Face washes and toners. It is weakly acidic, oil soluble and therefore suited for oily skin, where it can penetrate the pores and cause skin exfoliation. This acid is used as an additive in products that target acne, warts, psoriasis, dandruff and some other skin issues.

Read: Glycolic acid in formulation.

Salicylic acid occurs naturally in plants and can be synthesized from the Willowbark tree and is commonly sold in powder/salt form.

How safe is Salicylic Acid?

The acid is relatively safe as long as it is handled by well trained personnel.

Why we love Salicylic Acid

  • It has antibacterial properties
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties
  • It also regulates sebum/oil secretion in the skin
  • Plays a role in fading skin hyperpigmentation.
  • It also promotes skin exfoliation

Working with salicylic acid powder


Working with this powder can prove to be very tricky. This is because of its selective solubility. Salicylic acid is only moderately soluble in water and other organic solvents like glycerin, acetone, propylene glycol, propane 1,3 diol etc. Its weakly acidic nature makes its solubility in water, pH and temperature dependent.

Read: Lactic acid in cosmetics

Salicylic acid in formulation

  • In formulation, salicylic acid works at overall optimum pH of 4. Anything more and it is rendered ineffective.
  • It is commonly added to the aqueous phase of formulation after dissolving it in propane 1,3 diol and heating.
  • Another way to incorporate Salicylic acid in formulation is to first dissolve it in the oil phase, then add the solution to a 1% sodium citrate aqueous solution.
  • It can also be added in its powder form, to the finished formulation.

In formulation, salicylic acid works at overall optimum pH of 4

If formulating for commercial sale, it is important to have the formulating company approved by relevant authorities in the specific country. Precautions should also be indicated on label.

An example of such precautions is: “Avoid contact with eyes, nose and other internal areas of the body. Product should be kept out of the reach of children. If ingested or injected, seek help immediately!”




The content displayed on the website is the intellectual property of the Botafrik. You may not reuse, republish, or reprint such content without our written consent. The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information on this website for any particular purpose or use, you do so at your own judgment.

While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors. We reserve the right to change this policy at any given time, of which you will be promptly updated. If you want to make sure that you are up to date with the latest changes, we advise you to frequently visit this page.



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *