Overview of Willow Bark Extract
Derived from the bark of the willow tree, Willow Bark Extract has been used for centuries to soothe irritated skin. Containing salicin—from which salicylic acid is derived—this versatile ingredient is both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, clearing pores and alleviating acne and irritation. In this installation of our ongoing “Plant Power” series, we’ll be focusing on the benefits of Willow Bark Extract in skin care.
what is willow bark extract and how is it derived?
Although there are various types of willow trees, each with their own unique extracts, Willow Bark Extract used in skin care products is usually derived from white willow bark. As the nomenclature implies, white extract comes from the white willow tree (salix alba), a medium- to large-sized perennial deciduous species. (Black and white willow extract are frequently used interchangeably in beauty products, but for our purposes, we’ll be focusing on the salicin-rich white willow extract.) After harvesting, during which strips of the willow bark are removed from the tree, the inner bark is processed to remove the beneficial aqueous extract. Aside from skin care, this extract can also be used for various medicinal and minor-pain-relieving purposes.
Why to use Willow Bark in your skincare routine?
There’s no question that nature’s active ingredients can offer quite a lot for skin, be it cacay or silver ear mushroom. And willow bark is no exception among them. Commonly referred to as “nature’s aspirin,” this extract is one of the best-known plant sources of salicylic acid. And, as may be expected with that family connection, willow bark can be a powerful ingredient in treating breakouts and fine lines and wrinkles alike. Thus it is a botanical extract suitable for all skin needs. You find it in products like Everyday Day Cream, Hydration Mask, and Glow Serum. It’s no wonder why willow bark is one of our favourite ingredients to formulate with for blemish-prone skin as well help the skin age slowly.
What Is Willow Bark?
It comes from, not surprisingly, the willow tree, which is native to eastern North America. It contains the active ingredient salicin, which is a similar active to salicylic acid. It is not salicylic acid but a relative of it. When ingested, the salicin is converted into salicylic acid via the digestive process — which, incidentally, is the primary ingredient in aspirin. For that reason, practitioners of native and folk medicine have long sought it out to treat pain and inflammation.
Most products blur or mattify and are not true pore-shrinkers. Willow bark can do that. But willow bark can not only minimise the appereance of your pores. Willow bark can simultaneously address signs of ageing.
How does it Benefits the Skin
It Clears Pores
While the salicin present in willow bark is not the same molecule as salicylic acid, they do share common properties. Both can exfoliate dead, dry skin cells from the surface layer of skin; ridding skin of that build-up — which could potentially clog pores, leading to blackheads and breakouts — therefore keeps skin clear.
That gives it unique status among formulas that promise to address pores. Most products blur or mattify and are not true pore-shrinkers. Willow bark can do that. Few things are better for blackhead removal (though it may come with requisite, though temporary, skin purging).
It Addresses Acne
In addition to decongesting skin, salicin and salicylic acid have similar anti-inflammatory activity and may be used for conditions such as acne, but salicin is a gentler version. “Gentler” is the operative word here, as that’s what makes willow bark such an appealing alternative to synthetic forms of salicylic acid.
People may need gentler versions of salicylic acid because it can be irritating. Even in a low concentrations, salicylic acid can be accompanied by redness, dryness, and flaking. In fact, evidence shows that conventional acne treatments like salicylic acid may actually make breakouts worse, not better.
It Minimises Lines and Wrinkles
Last but certainly not least, willow bark can simultaneously address signs of ageing. A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that regular topical use of salicin led to improvements across a number of measures, including wrinkles, pore size, skin texture, and radiance. That’s especially compelling with adult acne on the rise — which necessitates ingredients that can address ageing and acne in equal measure.
While it sounds too good to be true — there should be some drawback, right? — that’s just not the case with willow bark. If you’ve been searching for clear, radiant skin, it’s a good place to start. And it is suitable for all skin types s all skin can benefit from this beautiful ingredient.
What is in Willow Bark Extract and what makes it so beneficial for the skin?
In addition to salicin, Willow Bark Extract is also high in tannins, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and various minerals. All these help to soothe the skin and aid in cell regeneration, allowing for a more youthful, refreshed complexion. Below, we’ve broken down the major ingredients to delve more thoroughly into their unique benefits.
- Salicin — Named after the willow tree genus itself, salix, salicin (natural salicylic acid) has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. It is used in Aspirin for this reason to help reduce swelling and minor pains. In skin care, salicin alleviates acne and irritation and is suitable for most skin types. Salicin’s anti-inflammatory effects have also been shown to diminish wrinkles, reduce the appearance of pores, and even out skin tone while promoting increased firmness. A natural exfoliant, salicin sloughs off dead skin cells and clears pores to reveal a more radiant, clear complexion. Extremely effective and yet gentle and non-irritating, making it safe to use for all skin types.
- Polyphenols — are Phytonutrients (nutrients found in plants) with high antioxidant activity. Polyphenols help our bodies and our skin to fight free radicals that damage our skin’s DNA and contribute to signs of ageing. Polyphenols also aid in moisture retention, allowing our skin to stay hydrated and healthy. These powerful nutrients even help protect against photo-damage, protecting our skin during sun exposure and minimising inflammation afterward. Polyphenols’ anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties also help diminish acne and provide relief from skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
- Tannins — Willow Bark Extract also contains tannins, organic substances found in bark and other plant-based tissue. Tannins are highly astringent, which means they shrink or constrict body tissue, including the skin’s. Tannins tighten pores, making them appear smaller and less obvious; this helps the skin retain a firm, youthful look. Tannins also help control excess oil, which may alleviate acne.
- Flavonoids — A type of polyphenol, flavonoids are high in antioxidant properties, making them excellent anti-agers. Fighting free radicals, flavonoids help diminish the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. They’re also effective in protecting the skin’s barrier from environmental damage, such as UV exposure, and thereby preventing DNA damage. Flavonoids have even been shown to inhibit photo-damage after UV exposure.
In Conclusion: How does Willow Bark Extract benefit my skin?
- Provides gentle exfoliation for more radiant skin
- Helps reduce acne and excess oil
- Helps reduce signs of ageing and the appearance of wrinkles
- Refines pores and minimises pore size
- Helps alleviate conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea
- Keeps skin looking firm and youthful
To enjoy the benefits of Willow Bark Extract, try incorporating our Everyday Day Cream into your everyday beauty routine and incorporate our Hydration Mask as a treatment. It incorporates beautiful our ingredients and actives that complement Willow Bark and support its manifold benefits to get glowing and a toned complexion.