Is Salicylic Acid Vegan? What Is Salicylic Acid Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: September 2022.
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Salicylic acid is a skincare ingredient used to treat acne. It is mainly made from the bark of a willow tree or produced synthetically. Therefore, salicylic acid is always vegan. 

The word ‘acid’ might seem scary but for this example, salicylic acid is safe. The active ingredient is known to treat different disorders and skin conditions. Let’s find out how it works on the skin and why is it used.

What Is Salicylic Acid? What Is Salicylic Acid Made Of?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid primarily found in willow bark and it is the most well-known BHA. The organic peeler aka exfoliant is fat-soluble and useful in treating different skin conditions.

Salicylic acid gets its name from the white willow tree – Salix Alba in Latin. In 1828, the German chemist J. Buchner isolated salicylic acid from the willow bark for the first time. Over the years, however, researchers have also extracted it from other plants, such as meadowsweet. 

So, the effects of salicylic acid have been known for a long time. It is one of the longest-established medicinal ingredients which is also a component of aspirin. 

Salicylic acid also occurs naturally in foods like different spices, vegetables, and fruit. As well as nuts and seeds like almonds and peanuts. 

However, determining the exact amount of salicylic acid in food is difficult. And for industrial use, salicylic acid is made synthetically or from willow bark and leaves. 

As salicylic acid is a mild acid, it is therefore found in many cosmetic products. When applied externally, it has a corneal-dissolving effect, which explains its use with acne, cornification disorders, warts, and psoriasis. 

Why Is Salicylic Acid Used In Skincare?

Salicylic acid is used in skincare because it reduces impurities, clears pores, and contributes to cell renewal. It has clarifying, anti-inflammation, anti-aging, and pigment-reducing effects.

The skin forms new cells naturally but when it is not working optimally, dead skin cells can cause scaling and clogging of the pores. This in turn can lead to impurities, pimples, and inflammation. 

Salicylic acid works by getting rid of old calluses and skin cells. This allows the excess sebum to drain out and prevents pimples and further clogging. So, salicylic acid is ideal for acne-prone or blemish-prone skin.

Further, salicylic acid has pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and skin-renewing effects. It gently activates natural cell renewal which makes the skin look plumper, even, younger, and radiant.

As salicylic acid gets rid of dead skin cells and boosts cell renewal, it also has an anti-aging effect and can reduce fine lines, wrinkles, dark areas, and pigment spots.

Salicylic acid can also have an effect on skin prone to neurodermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis, and warts. However, to treat these conditions, always get advice from your dermatologist beforehand. 

Low doses of up to two percent can be used without hesitation. However, products with a higher BHA content must be prescribed by a professional. Those with very dry or sensitive skin should increase their use of salicylic acid slowly to avoid possible irritation.

FAQ About Salicylic Acid

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid primarily found in willow bark and it is the most well-known BHA. The organic peeler aka exfoliant is fat-soluble and useful in treating different skin conditions.

Why is salicylic acid used in skincare?

Salicylic acid is used in skincare because it reduces impurities, clears pores, and contributes to cell renewal. It has clarifying, anti-inflammation, anti-aging, and pigment-reducing effects.

Is salicylic acid vegan?

Yes. BHAs like salictylic acid in skincare are made from willow bark or produced synthetically. 

Summary

Salicylic acid is a versatile ingredient used to treat different concerns on the skin. It is an exfoliator mostly used as an anti-aging, blemish-reducing, acne-treating, and clarifying compound.

The active ingredient belongs to the group of beta-hydroxy acids aka BHAs and is the most popular one of them all. BHAs in skincare are made from willow bark or produced synthetically. 

So, it is good to know that salicylic acid is always a vegan ingredient. However, it is still wise to check the ingredient list of a product. Or to shop at vegan brands to always be safe.

See also: Best Vegan Exfoliators, Best Vegan Skincare For Acne-Prone Skin, 100% Vegan Skincare Brands

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.