Methyl Salicylate



No known benefits

Methyl Salicylate at a glance

  • Also known as wintergreen oil
  • Used for its numbing and cooling effect
  • Skin sensitizer and irritant
  • Yellowish or reddish liquid in its raw form

Methyl Salicylate description

Methyl salicylate is also known as wintergreen oil. From a scientific standpoint, it is a benzoate ester that is the methyl ester of salicylic acid. Though it is related to salicylic acid, it is not the same – it can be converted into salicylic acid by the body, but only when taken orally. It is often sourced from wintergreen plants. Methyl salicylate is often used in topical analgesics for its cooling or numbing effects. Unfortunately, this is not a sign that it is “working”; rather it’s an indication that it is causing skin irritation. Studies have shown that methyl salicylate is a skin sensitizer, capable of burning skin when it is overused. While methyl salicylate has been ruled non-toxic in several studies, its potential to harm skin makes it an ingredient to avoid. In its raw form, it is a yellowish or reddish liquid with an odor of wintergreen.

Methyl Salicylate references

  • PubChem, Accessed March 2023, Website
  •, Accessed March 2023, Website
  • Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, January 2020, ePublication
  • Cosmetic Ingredient Review, June 2019, ePublication
  • Human and Experimental Toxicology, September 1996, pages 747-750

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.


We couldn't find this in our ingredient dictionary. We log all missing ingredients and make continuous updates.

Not rated

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