It is possible to melt salicylic acid into oil. I had to heat it but did work. Now question is it effective for exfoliation. Science papers i found that best ph is 4? Does it mean if it has no ph its not going to exfoliate? Many thanks


  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist

    Yes, Salicylic is oil-soluble and poorly water-soluble.  SA dissolved in an oil will exfoliate skin.  Upon application, it will dissolve in the sebum in the hair follicles where is will help shed dead skin cells.  When papers say it is best at pH 4, they are referring to SA dissolved in a water base.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

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  • Thank you so much !!!! I am using it and i can see difference but i thought it would be good to double check. 
  • I've just spent hours this week testing SA solubility in many solvents....butylene glycol, propanediol, castor oil, glycerine, sodium lactate.  Heat, no heat, high shear, hand mixing.... I've eventually managed to scrape together a 2% SA in my formulation with sodium lactate probably the best performing although none dissolved 100%.

    Could you please share with me what the oil to SA ratio is and will any oil work?  Didn't have that much luck with castor oil.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Castor oil can dissolve up to 10% but requires high temperatures and time. Olive oil and other oils can only handle 2-3%. You may add Eutanol G as solubiliser.
    Also, polyethylene glycols are remarkably good solvents for salicylic acid.
  • @Pharma interesting, I shall experiment more. 

    Abandoning oils now. My other experiments excluding glycerine, dissolved clear on day 6. Now increasing ratios. 
  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    I agree with @Pharma there - PEG's rock for SalAc solubility. I wonder why so many formulators ignore that? "Fear of PEG" perhaps?
  • I agree with @Pharma there - PEG's rock for SalAc solubility. I wonder why so many formulators ignore that? "Fear of PEG" perhaps?
    Many consumers don't trust PEGs for several reasons.
    Some prominent beauty bloggers think that PEGs "mess up" the immune system and that they contain carcinogens.
    Other consumers take issue with them because they "aren't sustainable" (because they contain petrolatum derivatives) and that they cause allergies.
    Chemophobia rears its ugly head again.
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