How to Make a Salicylic Acid Serum

Before you make this, please note that if you have an allergy to Aspirin, then DO NOT use Salicylic Acid, as it can trigger a severe allergic reaction.

Salicylic Acid is a beta hydroxy acid that is known for reducing acne by acting as a chemical exfoliator.  It keeps pores clear and helps to reduce redness and swelling.

Salicylic Acid is categorized as medicine in some countries, in a group of medicines called keratolytic agents. 

In the UK we are free to use it in cosmetic products up to a maximum usage rate for adults of 2% for leave on products with the exception of body lotion, eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, and roll-on deodorant applications where it was determined safe for use up to a maximum concentration of 0.5%.  It was determined that 3% was the maximum allowed usage rate for rinse off products.  It should not be used for products for children under 3 years old.

To read the official guidance yourself see here  (correct at time of writing)

I would check with your safety assessor if you plan to make a Salicylic Acid product to sell, as claims such as ‘helps acne’ etc need to be substantiated with proper testing before they can go to market.

This formula is an experiment for demonstration purposes only.

I’ve designed this cleanser to be beneficial to those suffering with acne, as I include a few ingredients that help.  To use, lather on the face or skin and allow to remain on the skin for a few minutes before rinsing to gain as much benefit from the ingredients as possible, for this reason, I have gone with the max ‘leave-on’ usage rate rather than the rinse off.

Formula for a 100g batch

Phase A – Stir the Salicylic Acid into the Propanediol 1,3, place beaker in water bath and continue to stir until the Salicylic Acid has dissolved.  Set aside for adding to cool down phase later on.

4% (4g) Propanediol 1,3 – Humectant and Solvent to dissolve the Salicylic Acid
1% (1g) Salicylic Acid – Beta Hydroxy Acid, known for reducing acne.

Phase B – Dissolve Niacinamide in distilled water.  Add the SLSa and stir.  Weigh and note down. Heat in a water bath to dissolve.  Once dissolved take of the heat and replace any water lost to evaporation. Add gradually to Solagum AX stirring continuously until combined together into a gel like texture.  Set aside to cool.

61% (61g) Distilled Water
3.5% (3.5g) SLSa
– Foaming, emulsifying and gentle cleansing anionic surfactant.
2.5% (2.5g) Niacinamide – Regulates oil production and helps to reduce redness and swelling from acne.  Minimizes the appearance of enlarged pores.
2% (2g) Solagum AX – Non-sticky thickening agent that gives a beautiful gel consistency to products.

Phase C – Once Phase B is cooled to 40 C or below, gently combine phase C then add to your Phase B mixture.

20% (10g) Cocamidopropyl Betaine – Amphoteric gentle surfactant.  It’s cleansing and hydrating and adds a silky thick viscosity to products.
4% (4g) Polysorbate 20 – Solubilizer for the essential oil.  Aids product stability and texture.

Phase D – Stir into your cleanser along with your Phase A cooled Salicylic Acid/Propanediol 1,3 mixture.  Then pH adjust.

1% (1g) Lavender Essential Oil – Pleasing scent and kills bacteria, healing and preventing acne breakouts.  It unclogs pore and reduces inflammation.
1% (1g) Phenoxyethanol ehg – Broad Spectrum preservative.
L-Arginine - pH adjuster


Salicylic Acid is difficult to work with.  Wear a mask, as it gets airborne and is not good to breath in (like any powder ingredients). 

Its solubility is low.  It will not readily dissolve in water.  The best solvents to use to dissolve it are:

  • Lactic Acid
  • Propenediol 1,3
  • Castor Oil

It will need to cool and then be added to the cool down phase.

You will need to adjust the pH, as although it is stable in most, it does have a low pH and you will likely want to bring your product to a nice skin friendly range between 4-4.5 would be ideal.

You can add colour if you wish.  Add around 0.1-0.2% Mica to the Solagum and mix at the same time as that for best dispersal. 


Disclaimer: These formulas and recipes are experiments created for the purpose of sharing on Patreon and YouTube. Revega does not make any claims as to their qualifications or the efficacy of the formulations which are listed here for entertainment purposes and accepts no responsibility for how you use these. We are self-taught and offer these videos from our years of knowledge and experience in making our own cosmetic products.

Remember that if you intend to use one of these formulations for your own product range, do your own research, experiments, adjustments and tests before using, gifting or selling.





Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published