Butyloctyl salicylate is a synthetic solvent and emollient. It is primarily used as a carrier oil to disperse minerals in, including pigments and sunscreen minerals, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
However, it also serves as an emollient, which makes the skin appear softer and smoother by filling in microcracks at the surface. This medium-spreading ester features low viscosity and high polarity, making it very good at suspending minerals.
Additionally, butyloctyl salicylate can act as a stabilizer for UV filters that are unstable in the presence of light, such as avobenzone. Although it is not considered a sunscreen active, butyloctyl salicylate can also absorb UV light, thus boosting the SPF of sunscreen products.