Natural Preservative Systems: Salicylic Acid: Naturally Derived
Aveda has found a cost-efficient way to derive salicylic acid naturally. “In the past, we have used synthetically produced salicylic acid that is nature-identical because there wasn’t really any other choice,” says Cindy Angerhofer, director of botanical research for Aveda. (As mentioned, deriving salicylic acid naturally is often cost-prohibitive.)
“Two years ago, we started to produce our own naturally derived salicylic acid from wintergreen oil, which is big news for us. It’s pretty novel in the industry. I don’t know anyone else doing it,” she says. “It’s old science, really. A long time ago, salicylic acid was derived to some extent from wintergreen, but then it became so much cheaper to do it from petroleum that the process went away.” Through hydrolysis, Aveda adds water to the wintergreen oil molecule to get salicylic acid.
A product’s pH level is important when using the naturally derived salicylic acid, Angerhofer says. “The efficacy of salicylic acid is dependent on pH,” she says. “You can’t have a basic product with a high pH and preserve with salicylic acid.”
Angerhofer says that the challenge for Aveda is making sure that it gets high-quality wintergreen oil to ensure that the source is pure. “It’s taken us several rounds with the manufacturer to make sure that we get that, but after a few years of development, we’re able to get a very nice, pure, USP-grade material.”
Aveda used the wintergreen-derived salicylic acid in two of its latest skin care launches, its Green Science skin care line and its 99.7% naturally derived Enbrightenment skin care line.
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