Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) naturally found in the bark of willow tree. In addition, small traces of the acid are also found in fruits, flowers and roots of several plants. Commercially, salicylic acid is made from phenol by various chemical processes such as a reaction between carbon dioxide and dry sodium phenoxide, followed by acid treatment. Majority of the globally produced salicylic acid is used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals such as aspirin and various skincare creams for ailments such as acne, blemishes and psoriasis among others. In addition, the anti oxidation properties make it an ideal raw material in the cosmetic industry for use in haircare and skincare products. The other applications of salicylic acid include industrial and as a preservative in foods. In addition, recent studies suggest that the salicylic acid could also help in reducing the risk of dementia and strokes among consumers. Very few companies manufacture and supply salicylic acid on a global level. However, there are a large number of small domestic manufacturers in China who provide industrial grade salicylic acid at relatively lower cost.
Salicylic acid is being increasingly used in skincare and haircare products due to its medical benefits such as reduction of acne, blemishes, dandruff and psoriasis. Rising awareness regarding healthy skin and hair is expected to drive the global skincare and haircare market, which in turn is expected to drive the growth of salicylic acid market. In addition, growing demand for aspirin is expected to be another factor vital to the growth of the market, as salicylic acid forms a key ingredient of aspirin. However, growing consumer concern regarding the side-effects of salicylic acid is expected to hamper the growth of the market. Regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) have defined standards for levels of salicylic acid to be present within various products. The permissible level of salicylic acid in various cosmetics such as creams, shower gels, shampoos and conditioners ranges from 0.5% to 2%. Presence of higher concentration of salicylic acid leads to various side effects such as stomach irritation and blistering and peeling of skin. The global market for salicylic acid was 70,725 tons in 2013 and is expected to reach 123,890 tons in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 6.5% from 2014 to 2020.
Pharmaceutical was the largest application segment for salicylic acid accounting for over 40% of global demand in 2013. Salicylic acid is the key ingredient used in the manufacture of aspirin. Aspirin has been one of the highest selling drugs all across the globe. Increasing research on the effect of aspirin on other ailments such as dementia, cardiovascular diseases, strokes and certain pregnancy related complications and its consequent success is expected to drive the demand for aspirin in the near future. Food and preservative was the second largest application segment with demand exceeding 25,000 tons in 2013. Cosmetics are expected to be fast growing segments, at an estimated CAGR of 6.6% from 2014 to 2020. Increasing disposable income, changing lifestyle, rising awareness regarding healthy skin and hair and benefits of salicylic acid for skincare and haircare are some of the key factors driving the global demand for salicylic acid in cosmetic products.
Europe led the demand for salicylic acid in 2013 accounting for 35.0% of the overall demand. Growth of the skincare and haircare industry due to rising awareness among consumers regarding healthy skin and hair is expected to drive the demand for salicylic acid in this region. In addition, the adoption of aspirin to prevent and treat serious ailments such as dementia and strokes among aging population is expected to fuel the growth of the salicylic acid market over the next few years. Asia Pacific is expected to witness the fastest growth, at an estimated CAGR of 7.6% from 2014 to 2020 on account of the growing demand for salicylic acid in various sectors such as pharmaceutical, skincare and haircare among others
The global market for salicylic acid is highly diversified with a very few global manufacturers of salicylic acid. However, China has a large unorganized market with a large number of smaller companies manufacturing industrial grade salicylic acid.