Benzyl Salicylate Safety

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What Is Benzyl Salicylate?

Benzyl salicylate is an ester, a chemical compound derived from an acid. It was created by the esterification of salicylic acid with benzyl alcohol.

It has a unique fragrance and also is one of the first skincare ingredients used to help protect the skin from UV rays back in the 1920s. This skincare ingredient is frequently used in a wide variety of products including lip balm, sunscreen, lotion, and creams. However, despite some useful properties, it’s a relatively unstable and unsafe ingredient, and if you have sensitive skin, you should avoid using products that contain benzyl salicylate.

Benzyl Salicylate safety

Is Benzyl Salicylate Safe?

Overall, the safety of benzyl salicylate is quite poor. It does not have many beneficial benefits for the skin and it poses dangers to sensitive skin and those prone to allergic reactions. It’s known to frequently cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin, even in very small amounts.

It can cause contact dermatitis (skin irritation) to people with sensitive skin types. When present in very small amounts, it may not pose any issues, but it’s considered to be a “medium-risk” ingredient. Given the limited benefits, it’s not worth it.

It is also on the European Commission’s list of 26 known allergens. Some of the other ingredients on this fragrance allergen list include LinaloolCoumarinGeraniol, and Limonene.

If you are sensitive to chemicals or have had allergic reactions to fragrances in the past, you may wish to avoid the use of benzyl salicylate in favor of other natural fragrances.

Benzyl Salicylate Uses & Benefits In Skincare

Wondering about Benzyl salicylate skin benefits? There are two primary reasons that this compound is used in skincare. Be sure to consider the tradeoffs before using products with this ingredient. Though it can add a pleasant fragrance to skincare products and cosmetics, it may not be worth the risk.

  • Fragrance additive – The smell of benzyl salicylate is quite mild, and some people have a hard time detecting it. Its odor is described as a sweet, floral smell that’s somewhat reminiscent of balsamic products like vinegar. It’s also commonly described as having a “musky” smell.
  • UV light absorber – Benzyl salicylate for skin is used as a UV light absorber and protectant in cosmetic products. Not only does it help protect the skin from sun damage, but it also helps protect skincare products from breaking down due to exposure to UV light, which is important in products that may be in clear or transparent packaging.

Is Benzyl Salicylate Vegan?

Yes. Benzyl salicylate in skincare is vegan. Both of its components are plant-based –  benzyl alcohol is produced by a lot of different plants like jasmine, hyacinth, and ylang-ylang, and salicylic acid is harvested from the willow tree. If you are vegan, you can use benzyl salicylate in skincare as long as the other ingredients in the product are also cruelty-free and plant-based.

However, due to the safety issues related to the use of benzyl salicylate, you may want to avoid its use, even in vegan products.


Benzyl salicylate has been shown to contribute to the proliferation of cells that may cause breast cancer. Those who are at risk of breast cancer should avoid products containing this skincare ingredient. 

Also Known As:

Benzyl salicylate is also sometimes called Benzyl 2-hydroxybenzoate or Benzoic acid, but it’s most commonly referred to as benzyl salicylate on skin care products.

Even though Benzyl salicylate is derived from Salicylic acid, it is not the same thing. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from willow bark. It is a very useful acne treatment ingredient that can help clear pores while it exfoliates the skin. It can cause irritation and cause dry skin but it is considered a safe ingredient and is FDA approved for acne treatment.