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White Willow Bark in Skincare

White willow bark is a natural source of salicin, which acts as a natural aspirin. Aspirin and other salicylates are known for their anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. However, these compounds can have unpleasant side effects such as gastric bleeding when taken in high doses or with prolonged use. The plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to reduce fever and relieve aches and pains associated with arthritis, gout, and other joint diseases. Meanwhile, it’s also been recognized for its ability to ease mild pains from overexertion or sprained muscles. However, there are limitations to the amount of white willow bark that can be safely consumed on a regular basis. There is currently not enough evidence to support the usage of this herb for treating arthritis or any other inflammatory conditions without consulting your doctor first.

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What’s in white willow bark?

White willow bark contains salicin, which is the active form of aspirin. White willow bark also contains naturally-occurring flavonoids, the same antioxidants found in other types of plants like berries and grapes. Other trace minerals include silica, zinc, and magnesium.


Willow bark extract in skincare

White willow bark is sometimes added to skincare products, especially those meant to treat inflammation or pain. If included in skincare, it can be in the form of a salicylate or its synthetic equivalent, methyl salicylate. Salicylates are widely used in skincare as mild exfoliants and anti-inflammatories. While the dosage of willow bark in skincare products is generally low enough that it poses no risk, you should still take precautions. If you are on medication or have a chronic health condition, like arthritis, it’s best to avoid taking high doses of salicylates through skincare products. When applied to the skin, salicylates are readily absorbed into the bloodstream. However, the amount you would get from skincare products is much lower than the amount you would get from taking aspirin.


How can white willow bark be used in skincare?

White willow bark is commonly used in anti-aging products. It’s especially helpful for reducing inflammation and redness around the eyes, mouth, and on the neck. This is likely because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It’s also used in anti-acne products for the same reasons. In addition, it has some mild exfoliating properties, so it can help unclog pores and remove blackheads and whiteheads. White willow bark is also used in products designed to reduce the appearance of scars.  We use white willow extract in our blissani Naturals Clear Spot Solution. It can reduce the time acne and blemishes are active while preventing new zits from forming. Our vegan-friendly, cruelty-free spot treatment fights pimples and acne with a powerful combination of plant oils and extracts including White Willow Extract, Clove Oil and Witch Hazel.  


Side effects of white willow bark

As mentioned earlier, people with chronic health conditions or taking certain medications should avoid high doses of salicylates when applied to the skin. Salicylates, including those found in white willow bark, are known to increase blood sugar levels in people with diabetes when applied topically. So those with diabetes should avoid products containing salicylates, such as willow bark extract. In general, people experience skin irritation when using high doses of salicylates through skincare products. Side effects include redness, stinging, and itching, especially around the eyes, mouth, and neck. These effects are likely caused by the increased blood flow to these areas, which can cause redness.


Bottom line: Is white willow bark worth trying?

If you’re not on any medications or chronic conditions, and you have healthy, functioning joints, you can use white willow bark skincare products without much risk. However, if you are taking certain medications or have certain chronic conditions, be sure to speak to your doctor first before using white willow bark skincare products.

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