UV filter

Octisalate at a glance

  • Works primarily in the UVB range
  • Globally approved in amounts from 5–10%
  • Has excellent stability
  • Helps neutralise the sun-induced formation of oxygen radicals
  • Improves the stability of UV filters like oxybenzone and avobenzone

Octisalate description

Octisalate is a synthetic sunscreen ingredient that works primarily in the range of UVB light while offering a small amount of UVA protection. It is also known as octyl salicylate and ethylhexyl salicylate. This globally approved sunscreen ingredient is used in concentrations up to 10%, with 5% being a typical amount when combined with other UV filters. Such combinations are necessary since octisalate doesn’t provide sufficient UVA protection on its own. Since it isn’t a super-strong UVB filter (it helps but there are stronger options), it’s often used with sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone, where it helps keep them stable in the presence of UV light. Octisalate has been deemed safe as used as used in cosmetics and is not considered an eye or skin irritant. Research has shown this UV filter can neutralise singlet oxygen, a type of skin-damaging free radical generated by exposure to UVB light. 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.

Octisalate references

  • JAMA, January 2020, ePublication
  • 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, Volume 22, Supplement 3, 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