It is used as an excipient in pharmaceutical products, where it is used as a humectant, a plasticizer, and as a solvent.

The compound methyl salicylate was first isolated (from the plant Gaultheria procumbens) in 1843 by the French chemist Auguste André Thomas Cahours (1813–1891), who identified it as an ester of salicylic acid and methanol

Since the compound is a suitable solvent for many organic molecules, it is often used to bind cosmetics and fragrances. Other industrial uses include plasticizers, detergent bases and aerosol sprays. Because of the frequent dermal exposure of humans to the chemical, the question of toxicity is crucial. Several studies suggest that DEP can cause damage to the nervous system as well as to the reproductive organs in males and females.

Galaxolide was first synthesized in 1965, and used in the late 1960s in some fabric softeners and detergents. High concentrations were also incorporated in fine fragrances.