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.
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!”
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