Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Dissolving Salicylic Acid for Dummies

  • Dissolving Salicylic Acid for Dummies

    Posted by beautynerd on June 16, 2015 at 12:59 am

    So, I’m in Canada which allows SA to be used at up to 2% in skincare. 

    I’m attempting to formulate an exfoliating mask (clay based O/W emulsion).   

    I have sodium citrate, citric acid, octyldodecanol and powdered SA. But what’s the method?
    Any suggestions would be really helpful since I have a feeling that throwing it into the water phase and forgetting about it is potentially disastrous. 
    beautynerd replied 9 years ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • MarkBroussard

    June 16, 2015 at 3:12 am


    What are you using as your Oil phase?  It’s probably much simpler than you think.  
    Method 1:  Dissolve the Salicylic Acid in your Oil phase, which can include Octyldodecanol.  Add 1% Sodium Citrate to your water phase.  When you combine to make the emulsion, the SA will be solubilized.
    Method 2:  Dissolve the SA in 1,3-Propanediol by heating it and then add this to your hot Aqueous Phase that includes 1% Sodium Citrate right before you combine the Aqueous Phase with your Oil Phase to form the emulsion.  Again, you can include Octyldodecanol in your Oil Phase.
  • MarkBroussard

    June 16, 2015 at 3:23 am


    Forgot to mention, if you observe any precipitation, just raise the pH to 4.0 or so, that will help ensure the SA stays in solution.  Just add some Sodium Lactate to get the pH up.
  • beautynerd

    June 16, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    @MarkBroussard - Thanks for that!

    I did a few attempts of a water based clay-gel mask (lactic acid 4% / salicylic 2%). At the time the pH meter hadn’t arrived yet. Everything looked good until I threw the clay in at the end and it erupted like a baking soda volcano. 
    If I’m understanding correctly, this time around with the O/W emulsion, the phases should look like this:
    Allantoin 0.5%
    Lactic Acid 4%
    Sodium Citrate 1% (or more due to presence of lactic acid)
    OIL (heat to 80-85 Celsius to ensure complete solubility of SA)
    E-Wax NF
    Octyldodecanol 6%
    Salicylic Acid 2%
    Optiphen Plus
    Tetrasodium EDTA
    Want to change the chelating agent and the emulsifier up once my next ingredient order arrives but the general principal should be the same.
  • Barsik

    June 16, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Most clays are alkaline, so it maybe a reason for volcano :)
    Check this post

  • beautynerd

    June 17, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    @Barsik - No doubt. Hadn’t seen that thread. Thanks.

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