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Tridecyl Salicylate is an ester of salicylic acid, otherwise known as a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Tridecyl Salicylate is found in personal care products as a moisturizing ingredient, although its original form, salicylic acid, is generally used as an acne treatment ingredient because of its exfoliating properties. However, Tridecyl Salicylate is rendered a non-acid ingredient during its processing, and therefore has no exfoliating properties.
Tridecyl Salicylate is found in moisturizers, skin cleansing products, shampoos, sunscreen products, as well as in mouthwashes and dentifrices. As a derivative of salicylic acid, Tridecyl Salicylate is considered FDA approved, and "safe as used when formulated to avoid skin irritation and when formulated to avoid increasing the skin's sun sensitivity, or, when increased sun sensitivity would be expected, directions for use include the daily use of sun protection" (RealSelf.com). It is important to note that because Tridecyl Salicylate is not an effective exfoliator or acid - the two characteristics that create the need for increased sun protection - it is only operating as a skin conditioner and does not warrant as much precautions. It is, however, still recommended to use a sunscreen in addition to any product that contains Tridecyl Salicylate regardless.
Tridecyl Salicylate is CIR approved with concentration limits and usage recommendations.
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
The Cosmetics Database finds Tridecyl Salicylate a low hazard ingredient, noting no specific concerns. According to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology entitled "Safety assessment of ... Tridecyl Salicylate," there was little acute toxicity found as a result of a dermal exposure in rats, and this ingredient was determined to be safe for use.
It is still important to note the concerns regarding any derivative of salicylic acid, including the three primary concerns regarding its use: increased sun sensitivity (e.g., UV radiation induced skin damage), skin irritation, and reproductive and developmental toxicity. The Material Safety Data Sheet notes that it "Harmful by inhalation, ingestion and through skin absorption. Irritant. Chronic effects: laboratory experiments have shown mutagenic effects. May cause harm to the unborn child. May act as a sensitizer."
According to the Mayo Clinic, people using products containing Salicylic Acid should not apply the following on the same area: abrasive soaps or cleansers, alcohol-containing preparations, any other topical acne preparation or preparation containing a peeling agent (for example, benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, sulfur, or tretinoin [vitamin A acid]), cosmetics or soaps that dry the skin, medicated cosmetics, other topical medicine for the skin.
No specific warnings were found regarding Tridecyl Salicylate, and it is generally considered a safer derivative of salicylic acid or BHA.