Ethylhexyl Salicylate


UV filter

Ethylhexyl Salicylate at a glance

  • Globally approved sunscreen agent that works primarily in the UVB range
  • Commonly known as octisalate
  • Helps neutralize the sun-induced formation of oxygen radicals
  • Improves the stability of UV filters like oxybenzone and avobenzone

Ethylhexyl Salicylate description

Ethylhexyl salicylate is a synthetic sunscreen ingredient that works primarily in the range of UVB light, although it offers a small amount of UVA protection. It is also known as octyl salicylate and octisalate. Research has shown this UV filter can neutralize singlet oxygen, a type of skin-damaging free radical generated by exposure to UVB light. This globally used sunscreen ingredient is approved in varying concentrations around the world, with 5% being the typical maximum amount when combined with other UV filters. Combining ethylhexyl salicylate with other UV filters is necessary since it doesn’t provide sufficient broad-spectrum protection on its own. It is known to improve the stability of other UV filters like oxybenzone and avobenzone. Ethylhexyl salicylate is described as a colorless liquid in raw material form. Ethylhexyl salicylate has been deemed safe as used in cosmetics (by the Personal Care Council Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel) and is not considered an eye or skin irritant. This sunscreen active is one of several currently undergoing further safety testing under the purview of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This testing is to gain a better understanding of the systemic absorption, metabolism, and elimination of these sunscreen actives when small amounts enter the body via topical use. It’s important to know that the presence of this or other sunscreen actives in the body does not mean your health is at risk. It is anticipated that the additional testing being done will reaffirm the safety of these ingredients; however, those who remain concerned can choose sunscreens with mineral actives (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) which are not included in the FDA’s new call for additional testing.

Ethylhexyl Salicylate references

  • JAMA, January 2020, ePublication
  • Cosmetic Ingredient Review, June 2019, pages 1-60
  • Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, June 2019, pages 1,556–1,564
  • Catalysts, November 2017, ePublication
  • Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, June 2005, pages 937–956
  • Skin Pharmacology and Applied Physiology, January-February 2003, pages 28–35
  • International Journal of Toxicology, 2003, pages 1–108

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.