Is Benzyl Salicylate Safe?

by Gio
benzyl salicylate

Let me guess… You’re here because you’ve had an allergic reaction to a skincare product and are wondering if Benzyl Salicylate could be the culprit.

Let’s find out:

What Is Benzyl Salicylate?

Benzyl Salicylate is an ester of Salicylic Acid and Benzyl Alcohol. You can find it in cloves and several fragrant essential oils.

At room temperature, Benzyl Salicylate is an almost colourless liquid. It also a lovely floral aroma (hint: that’s its main use in skincare).

P.S. Benzyl Salicylate is also known as Benzyl 2-hydroxybenzoate.

What Does Benzyl Salicylate Do In Skincare?

Benzyl Salicylate does nothing for your skin. It can’t moisturise it, soothe it, or make it age more slowly. Here’s what it does instead:

  • Fragrance: It gives skincare products a faint, sweet floral or musky scent. (Trace impurities in plants can influence and slightly change its odour).
  • Fragrance fixative: It helps fragrance better adhere to your skin and last longer. That’s good if you buy a perfume. Not so good in a moisturiser… (Keep reading to find out why)
  • Ultraviolet light absorber: Don’t confuse it with UV filter. It’s not a sunscreen. It just protects skincare products or packaging from deteriorating when exposed to UV rays.

Related: Is Fragrance In Skincare As Bad As Paula Begoun Says?


Want to know what ingredients you really need to avoid in your skincare products? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheatsheet:


Is Benzyl Salicylate Safe?

Like all fragrance ingredients, Benzyl Salicylate can cause irritations and allergic reactions – even in small amounts.

Let’s be clear: most people can use it safely. But if you have sensitive skin and had a negative reaction to a skincare product, this is likely to be the culprit.

This is why it’s part of the “EU 26 fragrances” group that has to be labelled separately. If you’re allergic to it, you need to know before you buy that moisturiser.

Should You Use Benzyl Salicylate?

Fragrances aren’t the devil the skincare world makes them out to be. Sure, they don’t have any benefits for the skin. But, they make skincare application a more pleasant experience for millions of women.

If you enjoy scented skincare and the fragrance doesn’t bother your skin, there’s no reason to stop using it. It won’t harm your skin.

Sensitive skin? You need to be careful. Fragrance-free skincare is the best option for you.

The Bottom Line

Benzyl Salicylate makes your skincare products smell nice. If your skin doesn’t have a problem with fragrance, no harm in that. Keep enjoying its floral scent. Sensitive skin? This is an ingredient you want to avoid.

What are your thoughts on Benzyl Salicylate in skincare? Let me know in the comments below.

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64 comments

Haim August 27, 2011 - 1:33 am

Hi I would like to know where it comes from as I heard cheap fragrances are made from coal and it is poisonous (benzyl)

beautifulwithbrains August 28, 2011 - 8:35 pm

Haim, this is a synthetic compound made in a lab. But what do you mean with cheap fragrances? If you mean fake ones then who knows what they contain? Those may contain harmful ingredients but genuine, original fragrances are safe.

Suzanne Bulifant March 23, 2012 - 1:12 pm

I am not supposed to use any salicylates on my skin because it blocks a medicine that I take at the kidney level. Would Benzyl Salicylate be considered salicylate acid or is it just a chemical? Thanks

beautifulwithbrains March 23, 2012 - 8:58 pm

Suzanne, Benzyl Salicylate is an ester of benzyl alcohol and salicylic acid so I think it would be best if you avoided it, just to be on the safe side..

Suzanne Bulifant March 24, 2012 - 4:37 am

Thank you so much for this information….

beautifulwithbrains March 25, 2012 - 6:57 pm

Suzanne, you’re welcome.

Anne September 26, 2012 - 2:22 pm

Hi I just purchased Lancome face wash and one of the ingredients is Benzyl Salicylate. I have oily and acne prone skin and want to know if this is harmful to my skin.

beautifulwithbrains September 26, 2012 - 5:47 pm

Benzyl Salicylate can cause irritations, but so can most ingredients, and there is no way of knowing if it’s gonna cause a negative reaction until you try it. It’s not comedogenic though and, when used in a cleanser, it stays on the skin for only a minute or so before being rinsed off, so I don’t think it will cause any problems for your skin.

Deb October 8, 2012 - 6:08 am

I am currently using large amounts of Zoflora Linen fresh which contains Benzyl Salicylate and have had a recurrent cough for nearly five weeks. Could this be causing it? the label says that it can cause an allegic reaction.

beautifulwithbrains October 8, 2012 - 9:11 pm

Deb, yes, that could be the culprit. Stop using it and see if your cough stops.

Rachael November 26, 2012 - 9:57 am

My mum has developed an allergy to benzyl salicylate and has been hospitalised for over a month due to that amongst other things. She should be home today with luck but I need to know other names for this to ensure that I can get rid of all products containing it out of the house to ensure she is safe when she comes home

beautifulwithbrains November 27, 2012 - 1:57 pm

Rachel, I’m so sorry to hear that, I hope she is ok. If she is allergic to benzyl salicylate, she also avoid salicylates and all its derivatives. The most common ones used in topical products are:

Homomenthyl salicylate (homosalate)
Ethylhexyl salicylate (octyl salicylate)
Trolamine salicylate
Benzyl salicylate
Amyl salicylate
Phenyl salicylate
Salicylic Acid

I hope this helps.

jenny January 21, 2017 - 12:14 am

If anyone has an intolerance (or allergy) to salicylates they should also be aware many fruits and vegetables contain salicylates. eg. tomato, orange, pineapple.

Gio January 21, 2017 - 9:53 pm

Jenny, that’s true! Thanks for the remainder.

karen February 4, 2013 - 4:06 pm

I am looking for a chemical free face care line. This is listed as the last ingrediant in the face wash, everything else is natural or essential oils. Is this considered to be a chemical.

beautifulwithbrains February 4, 2013 - 9:38 pm

Karen, I’m afraid chemical free products don’t exist. Everything that is made up of matter is a chemical, including water. Even essential oils are made up of many chemical compounds. Unfortunately, many people have started using chemical as a synonym for synthetic, which has just created a lot of confusion. So yes, Benzyl Salicylate is a chemical. And because it occurs naturally in many essential oils, companies can claim it has a natural origin. But I believe that it can be also made synthetically in a lab. Hope this helps.

Jean Greaney February 18, 2013 - 3:39 pm

Hi

I wonder if you could recommend a facial wash that doesn’t contain benzyl salicylate. I currently use a Lancome one that unfortunately does contain this and I seem to be allergic.

Thanks

beautifulwithbrains February 18, 2013 - 8:40 pm

Jean, I’m sorry to hear about your allergy. Have you tried Cetaphil? It’s gentle and effective. Hope this helps.

liane August 8, 2014 - 1:57 pm

but it contains paraben, is it still safe especially for pregnant lady?

Gio August 8, 2014 - 8:36 pm

Liane, as far as I know, parabens, in the minuscule concentrations used in cosmetics, are safe for everyone, including pregnant women. The studies that claim they are dangerous have been taken out of context and don’t really apply to humans. Besides, parabens have been used in cosmetics for more than 20 years, so if they were bad for pregnant women, we would know by now. Having said that, if using parabens make you feel uncomfortable, you can also opt for products that don’t contain them.

Allergies May 1, 2013 - 3:31 pm

Hi,
I just went through allergy patch testing for contact dermatitis issues I am having. One of the five issues that came back is benzyl salicylate. I am going through my products and looking at the list of other names this goes by from my doctor. I am confused and cannot find the answer here…these names came up (wondering if they are other names for this as well): sodium benzoate, alkyl benzoate, benzyl benzoate, benzyl alcohol, benzo phenome, and salycylic acid. I am pretty miserable and would like to eliminate everything I need to. should I be avoiding anything with benzyl/benzo, salicylic including the above?

beautifulwithbrains May 1, 2013 - 7:47 pm

Allergies, unfortunately that would be best. Those substances are all related, so if you are allergic to one, you’ll probably be allergic to the others too. I’m sorry I can’t give you better news.

dede May 29, 2013 - 12:00 am

I am allergic to aspirin (anaphylaxis) and have found many of the products
I use to use now contain benzyl salicylates. I have to be very careful and
read all the tiny print labels before purchasing any parfume products
or treatments. Even the expensive parfumes now have benzyl salicylates
as a preservative.

beautifulwithbrains May 29, 2013 - 8:43 pm

Dede, I’m sorry to hear that. This is one of the worst allergies as these ingredients are used in everything. I hope you’ll find some products free of them that work well for you.

Denise May 31, 2013 - 3:14 pm

I am allergic to dodecyl gallate and wondering if benzyl salicylate is derived from a combonation of dodecyl gallate and another chemical?

beautifulwithbrains May 31, 2013 - 10:10 pm

Denise, I’m sorry to hear about your allergy. Benzyl Salicylate is the ester of benzyl alcohol and salicylic acid.

Carol Whitson June 9, 2013 - 4:46 am

I am allergic to aspirin, should I not use benzyl salicylate on my face?

beautifulwithbrains June 9, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Carol. I’m sorry to hear about your allergy. Yes, they are related, so you’d better stay away from that too.

Jennifer gorman July 25, 2013 - 10:23 pm

I currently take xalto one of the new family of anti-coagulants. Since using a sun block containing benzyl salicylate I have developed tiny bruises to skin and mucus membranes. Could this be a side effect? The product also contains coumarin.

beautifulwithbrains July 26, 2013 - 8:47 pm

Jennifer, it’s difficult to say for certain. It could indeed be that your medication is reacting badly to something in your sunscreen, so I recommend you consult a doctor asap.

Judy Anderson February 13, 2014 - 2:18 am

Just today I was diagnosed with a benzyl salicylate allery. It is all rather overwhelming. Is there a cross over with food related salicylates?
I use aloe vera based skin care products and as I am researching find aloe is a salicylate.

Gio February 13, 2014 - 9:35 pm

Judy, I’m sorry to hear that. Yes, you’ll have to be careful with what you eat, and it would be best to ditch the aloe vera too. Check out this page for more information on what’s best too avoid: http://salicylatesensitivity.com/about/salicylate-free-products/. In any case, it’s always best to consult a doctor as he/she will be able to prescribe a skincare routine that won’t trigger an allergic reaction.

hassan parvi July 14, 2014 - 7:56 pm

dear mam
i,d like to know a bout ingredients raw material organic or in organic that use in sun screen cream for filterin uv and uv bloker

thanks.

Gio July 14, 2014 - 8:38 pm

Hi Hassan, I have already written posts about quite a few of them. You can find them in the a-z ingredients page at the top of this page, or you can use the search function to find them. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, let me know what ingredients in particular you’d like to know more about. 🙂

liane August 8, 2014 - 2:01 pm

hi, i just wanted to know if benzyl salicylate, ethylhexyl salicylate are belong to salicylic acid?

Gio August 8, 2014 - 8:41 pm

Liane, you mean if they belong to the same family? Yes, they do.

Íris Jack September 4, 2014 - 8:39 pm

Hi, i just found out recently that i have benzyl salicylate allergy also few others (fragrance mix, nikkel, octyl gallate and colophony). Does this mean that i am allergic to all salicylates? and is salicylate in vegetables and fruits?

Gio September 6, 2014 - 1:17 pm

Iris, I’m sorry to hear about your allergies. Yes, you should avoid all salicylates in both cosmetics and foods, at least those that contain lots of them. Foods with low amounts of salicylate shouldn’t cause any side effects. For a list of foods that contains salicylates, check out this website: http://salicylatesensitivity.com/about/food-guide/

kayfuzz December 6, 2014 - 6:20 am

Hi. Just wondering how unsafe benzyl salicylate is during pregnancy? I am 27 weeks pregnant and have been using a face powder which contains it throughout my pregnancy, maybe 2 to 3times a week. What harm could I have done to the baby as I am now stressing 🙁

Gio December 6, 2014 - 7:06 am

Kayfuzz, although some overcautious experts recommend that, because salicylic acid is bad during pregnancy, you avoid all salicylates just in case, others say most of them, including this one, are safe. In any case, the amount of benzyl salicylate in a powder is tiny, and applying it a few times on a small area like the face is highly unlikely to have caused any damage at all, so don’t worry about it. Your baby is safe. Hope this helps. 🙂

Maz March 3, 2020 - 6:40 pm

Hello, I am pregnant and have just bought a candle by Neom because I heard it’s organic, doesn’t have paraffin or mineral wax and is safe during pregnancy. I’ve looked at the small print on the bottom and it says “contains benzyl sacylicate” – am I ok to burn this candle? I know small amounts won’t harm the baby but would like your advice. Thank you x

Gio March 6, 2020 - 9:51 am

MAZ, in small amounts, I don’t see any problems with it, but you should consult your doctor to be sure.

Keith April 9, 2015 - 11:33 pm

Can you tell me in which essential oils benzyl salicylate is a component? My hobby is perfume-making (not professionally!) and I’d like to avoid including benzyl salicylate. Thanks.

Gio April 12, 2015 - 6:36 pm

Keith, I’m afraid that won’t be an easy task. Ylang ylang, jasmine, and citrus oils all contain benzyl salicylate. There are probably more, but these are the ones I know for sure contain it.

cha June 29, 2015 - 2:55 am

hi i am 7 weeks pregnant and ive been using a hair treatment that contains benzyl salicylate and i am really worried now. Will it affect my baby?

Gio June 29, 2015 - 3:45 pm

Cha, don’t worry. Although pregnant women are recommended to avoid all salicylates, benzyl salicylate is present in really small amounts in hair care products. You didn’t use enough of it to harm your baby, but I recommend you switch to something else until after you’ve finished breastfeeding (or birth, if breastfeeding is not an option for you).

Lucy July 22, 2015 - 2:26 pm

Im allergic to salicylic acid and i really want to dye my hair the only thing is the hair dyes ive seen has salicylic acid in or benzyl salicylate because im allergic to salicylic acid does that mean im allergic to benzyl salicylate thank you i just really would love to dye my hair!

Gio July 25, 2015 - 7:40 pm

Lucy, they belong to the same family, so there’s a chance you may be allergic to benzyl salycilate too. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it.

Pam October 20, 2015 - 7:07 pm

Hi, I use tretonin on my face, and it says to stay away from salicylic acid, is benzyl salicylate the same thing? I notice in the ingredients of my cheek blush it says benzyl salicylate.
Thank you for your reply.

Gio October 21, 2015 - 8:45 pm

Pam, they are related indeed. But, if it is only in your bluish, then I don’t think it’s in a high enough concentration to cause any problem with the tretinoin.

Daisy November 18, 2015 - 9:22 pm

Hi, Gio 🙂
I read somewhere that salicylic acid causes hyperpigmentation in individuals with darker skin types, will this also occur if i use products that contain benzyl salicylate?

Gio November 21, 2015 - 10:41 pm

Daisy, hi. I don’t think so. I checked all my sources and none mentions benzyl salicylate darkening skin. They only mention potential irritations and allergies, but then anything can cause those.

Miranta August 14, 2016 - 9:02 pm

Is benzyl salicylate cancerous? Or does only cause allergies and stuff? i just dont know how dangerous it is. We all need to be careful of those things if possible thats why im curious.

Gio November 24, 2016 - 10:35 am

Miranta, no,it isn’t dangerous. It may cause allergies to some people, but then there’s always the risk someone will be allergic to something. I couldn’t agree more. Well done for learning more about ingredients and keep you and your loved ones safe.

Jodanis October 15, 2016 - 3:10 pm

I never knew I was allergic to salicyclic acid until.now
For over six years I had a dark and pimpled face with everyday breakouts and.when.I checked.back.all the products I.used they all contained salicyclic acid. I now.have stopped and I know.my face will clear up. My face got pigmentation at the cheeks.like it was burnt and terrible spots and scars

Gio November 26, 2016 - 2:48 pm

Jodanis, oh no, how terrible! Thanks for sharing your experience. At least now you know what to avoid.

Maddy January 7, 2018 - 3:12 pm

Does benzoyl salicylate help acne and spots?

Gio January 19, 2018 - 3:11 pm

Maddy, no it doesn’t.

Antoinette March 22, 2018 - 6:27 am

My mom is allergic to asprin, so any products with benzyl salicylate in it she should avoid, correct?

Gio March 30, 2018 - 5:12 pm

Antoinette, yes. It’s best if she avoids them, just in case.

Jessica June 10, 2018 - 6:23 am

Thanks for the post! How effective is this as a UV protectant in a leave-in conditioner? Currently using L’Oreal’s Elvive Extraordinary Oil-in-Cream, which is one serum that really “fixes” my normally low-porosity (although now high-porosity) bleached hair without weighing it down unduly. I was happy to see that it does have this ingredient in it (well, happy in the sense that it has some UV protectant, not necessarily this one). Full ingredients here: http://www.cosdna.com/eng/cosmetic_6333370523.html.

Would love to hear your opinion. Thanks!
If you can give any feedback, would love to hear. Thanks!

Gio June 16, 2018 - 10:47 am

Jessica, sunscreen in haircare products doesn’t really work unfortunately. I explain why here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/does-sunscreen-in-hair-care-products-really-work/

Carmen August 28, 2019 - 3:07 pm

Hi, I’m glad to discover your blog! I am wondering if skincare products containing benzyl salicylate are safe to use during pregnancy.

Thanks so much!

Gio September 14, 2019 - 5:44 pm

Carmen, experts are on the fence on this. I personally wouldn’t use it too often and only in very low amounts.

Comments are closed.