White Willow Branch and a woman with natural acne cream on her face

White Willow Extract vs Acne : Natural Salicylic Acid


The Basics:   

 As the name implies, White Willow Bark extract comes from the Willow tree.  It’s primary health benefits are derived from a product it contains called salicin.  This is the basis for salicylic acid which has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  It’s great for clearing your pores and removing dead skin cells, leaving your skin felling refreshed and rejuvenated.

The Color Question:

    White Willow Bark and Black Willow Bark are both used in beauty products.  For our blissani Clear line we chose White Willow Bark due to its high salicin content.  The white willow tree’s scientific name is salix alba.  The leaves of this tree are covered in a very fine layer of white hairs, giving this willow it’s colloquial name of “white willow.”  The bark of this tree is actually more of a grey-brown. 

White Willow Extract Acne Infographic

It's Been Around:

     The bark extract from the white willow tree has been used as a historical remedy in Europe and China to relieve aches and pains (most likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties).  It was given to fever patients during the 1700’s with some recorded successes.  The remedy is mentioned in texts from Egypt to Assyria and was mentioned by notable historical figures Pliny the Elder and Hippocrates. 

For Acne:

     However, when it comes to acne, the star ingredient in White Willow Bark is salicylic acid (derived from salicin).  Salicylic acid is known as a keratolytic. It works similar to aspirin and belongs to same class of drugs known as salicylates. It hydrates and moisturizes your skin causing your skin cells to be less sticky.  By loosening your skin cells with salicylic acid, you allow dead skin cells to be whisked away more easily.  Thus, salicylic acid (white willow bark extract) can be used in conjunction with a variety of acne fighting ingredients to enhance results.

Let’s face it: The struggle with acne is real for most of us. In fact, about 70% of adults will experience an acne outbreak at some point in their lives. With so many people struggling with pimples, it’s no wonder that there are so many products on the market claiming to help reduce and prevent breakouts. While you might be tempted by many of these “miracle remedies,” do your research before trying anything new. Some ingredients may seem natural or safe, but they could cause different side effects that aren’t worth the risk. What is white willow extract and what does it do? Keep reading to learn more about this ingredient and its potential effects on your skin…

What is White Willow Extract?

White willow extract is the water-soluble portion of the bark of the white willow tree. It’s most commonly used in topical acne products due to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-aging properties. While the benefits of white willow extract for acne can’t be proven with certainty, it’s often added to acne-fighting products as a “bonus ingredient” that may help improve some acne-related issues. The exact chemical makeup of white willow extract is unknown, but it’s thought to contain salicin and willgenin. These compounds have been found to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. That’s why white willow extract is used as an acne treatment.

How Does Willow Extract Help With Acne?

As we mentioned earlier, the exact mechanism of action for willow extract isn’t known, but is likely due to its high salicin content. It’s thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect that may reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation in acne-prone skin. This can make it easier to target acne-causing bacteria with other topical acne treatments, like benzoyl peroxide. Additionally, salicin has been found to inhibit the growth of certain microorganisms, including Staphylococcus aureus, which is one of the most common acne-causing bacteria. Since acne bacteria feeds on sebum, it makes sense that willow extract could help reduce acne symptoms by decreasing the amount of sebum being released from the skin.

Is White Willow Extract Good For Your Skin?

Willow extract isn’t harmful when used on its own. There are a few studies that have looked at the potential benefits of willow extract for acne, but there aren’t any long-term studies that examine the safety of long-term use of willow extract. Willow extract is likely safe to use when applied topically in the correct dosage, but it could cause some irritation, especially if used more than tolerable. 

Benefits Plus:

    An additional benefit to White Willow Bark Extract is its high anti-oxidant content.  It contains polyphenols derived from phytonutrients.  These polyphenols aid with hydration and help protect your skin from the sun.  The high antioxidant content in polyphenols reduce free radicals which contribute to signs of aging.  

  The high antioxidant content in polyphenols reduce free radicals which contribute to signs of aging. The polyphenols also help the skin absorb nutrients and promote healthy cell turnover. It is an excellent option for those who suffer from acne, psoriasis, and rosacea.

     White Willow Bark Extract is also rich in iron. Iron helps to keep your body healthy. It is a natural antioxidant that helps to prevent oxidation and improve the skin's protectant properties.  It also helps to prevent wrinkles and fine lines. The antioxidant content promotes an anti-aging effect as well.

     White Willow Bark Extract can be used in conjunction with many skin care products. It is an excellent choice for those who suffer from acne and rosacea, as it helps to reduce the appearance of acne scars. In addition, it works well for those who have oily skin as long as it is applied with a non-comedogenic carrier base. The phytonutrients in White Willow Bark Extract phytonutrients. These polyphenols help to protect the skin from ultraviolet rays. Phytonutrients help to reduce the risk of premature aging and skin.

the botanical name of white willow extract is salix alba by blissani naturals best vegan skincare

     Finally, to tighten your pores and reduce the size of their appearance, White Willow Bark contains tannins. Tannins provide an excellent natural astringent which constricts your skin.  This tightening reduces the size of pores and makes it more difficult for bacteria to grow and cause acne.

Final Words

White willow extract has been found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, which make it useful in acne-fighting products.  Salicin and salicylic acid are commonly used and recommended ingredients in the fight against acne, pimples and zits.  This made us feel confident in white willow extract as one of the most effective natural acne treatment ingredients available.  

Enjoy a dab of White Willow Extract with our Spot Treatment:

 blissani naturals spot solution with white willow extract

For More on Natural Acne Ingredients we Recommend:

 Clove Oil's Effects on Acne blog article by blissani breeze holistic beauty blog


Further Reading on White Willow Extract:

National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25997859/

Webmd: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-955/willow-bark

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