Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Retinol microcaps and Salicylic acid

  • Retinol microcaps and Salicylic acid

    Posted by Arismac on July 15, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Greetings all,

    I am trying to prepare a water based (oil in water) cosmetic formula to which I want to add Vitamin A (Retinol) microcaps (3% - Cool Down Phase) and salicylic acid (2% - Water Phase) designed for people with acne and similar skin problems.

    Is there likely to be a problem with these two ingredients?

    Thank you in advance. Perhaps this is also the right time to mention that I am quite willing to pay for answers to questions like this but am unsure how to go about making contact with qualified persons.


    Microformulation replied 7 years, 11 months ago 3 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Arismac

    July 15, 2016 at 1:59 am

    I think I should mention that I have been advised to use an, as yet unknown, quantity of sodium bicarbonate to produce sodium salicylate before adding the salicylic acid to the water phase. This will obviously also have the effect of raising the pH closer to 5.0 - 5.5 where I would like it to be.


  • Microformulation

    July 15, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Vitamin A is reeeeaaallly not the same as Retinol. Close, but not the same.

    Retinol was proposed as an OTC for acne but it is not on the OTC monograph. As such any mention of a link between the retinol and acne would make your product unauthorized and not marketable in the US.

    I would look at some of the products Salvona has for both the Retinol and the Salicylic acid. They are encapsulated in a safflower liposome and water solube. More expensive but easier to use. Salicylic acid can be a challenge to solubulize and would Salicylic acid itself would not be water soluble. You will need to use a solvent such as DPG or PG.

  • belassi

    July 15, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    So what advice did you find to recommend sodium salycilate as an anti acne additive? Why would you believe it has the same effect as salycilic acid?

  • Microformulation

    July 15, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Also, technically you would migrate off the allowable FDA Monograpghs here in the US with Sodium Salicylate. They are clear that it is the salicylic acid that is allowed, not a salt.

  • Arismac

    July 16, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Good evening (morning here) gentlemen and many thanks for your response.

    Belassi the following was copied and pasted from a suppliers web site in Australia. It was in fact this comment that led to my origional question. Having done a lot of surfing around now I think it would be my best option to formulate two creams. One for morning containing SA and one for evening containing Retinol.

    Thank you for pointing out to me that Retinol and Vit A are similar but not the same.

    Salicylic acid can be very tricky to add into an
    emulsion formulation (A cream or lotion) as it is not that soluble in
    water or oils.   One option is to neutralise it into sodium salicylate
    by reacting it with sodium bicarbonate.  This will fizz in water until
    the reaction is complete, the salt is just as effective for the skin as
    the acid but has less solubility issues.

    I am still in the market for paid assistance.


  • Microformulation

    July 16, 2016 at 1:04 am

    Again, the US FDA OTC monograph only allows the acid form, not any salts.

    When you post something such as the italicized statement above, a source would be great. This would make it easier to qualify the credentials of the author. We defined a citation standard in our SOP’s recently. No blogs. Should be to a Journal submission or Academic standard. The credentials of the author should be reviewed. Do you have the original source?

    Just now I found the citation. It is from an Amzon sales page, not a Journal. The seller (http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Salicylic-Acid-Powder-500g-Skin-Care-Products-Treating-Acne-And-Pimple-Prone-skin/32604289940.html) makes the claim but doesn’t provide substantiating documents. Not to beat a dead horse, but you must be discerning on using and citing information from a simple google search.

    Lastly I did look and saw a very slim minority of products that contain Sodium salicylate. The material is far down the ingredient list (below the 1% line) and it is not claimed as an active. See

  • Arismac

    July 16, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Believe me, Mark I have been a professional practitioner (now
    retired) for far too many years not to know what it is like to have people
    quote that “authority for everything, Dr Google” to me, which is why I
    asked here of course.

    My quote came from a retailer of SA in Sydney Australia named NewDirections.

    I am also very cautious of purchasing via Aliexpress and Alibaba unless I can
    obtain samples and have them thoroughly tested before using. I then retest the

  • Microformulation

    July 16, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    I am inferring that you are in Australia? If you are looking for a Consultant, check with the Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemistry. I have sent people to them for referrals and they were able to help.

    I am glad you see the problem with Google as a reference sources. No offense to you, but if you follow this forum long enough you will see posters lead with a long list of google citations (usually from Mommy Bloggers) as their sole research material.

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