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Ingredient Highlight: Willow Bark Extract

Other names: Salix alba Bark Extract

What it is: anti-inflammatory, exfoliating

You can find it in: Face Foam

Willow bark extract is a water-soluble type of Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). It is a wonderfully soothing ingredient that we love at Graydon Skincare.

This extract comes from the bark of white willow - a tree that can grow up to 21m/70ft and lives on riverbanks in Europe, central Asia and northern Africa. It has been used for over 6,000 years to soothe irritated skin. 

So what makes willow bark extract such a wonderful ingredient? 

It contains a natural anti-inflammatory agent called salicin, which helps to reduce redness and inflammation. 

Thanks to salicin, willow bark is renowned for being an alternative to salicylic acid. As you may know, salicylic acid is oil-soluble, works to exfoliate the skin, helps to unclog pores, and dislodges dirt and dead skin cells. It also helps to regulate sebum production and keeps excess oil under control (greasy-looking skin? bye-bye-bye). This makes it a formidable ally in your fight against acne and dull, bumpy skin. 

A smiling young woman applying Face Foam to her skin.

However, not everyone can tolerate salicylic acid. 

Willow bark extract is a more gentle alternative to its more well-known cousin. A 2010 study, in which 29 women used a serum containing 0.5% salicin for 12 weeks, found that salicin helps to improve the appearance of wrinkles, tactile roughness, pore size, radiance, and the overall appearance of the skin. 🥰

Apart from its soothing and exfoliating properties, it’s also rich in tannins, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and various minerals - giving this ingredient extra antioxidant, tonic, astringent, and antiseptic properties. 

So, who is it good for?

Give this ingredient a try if you're looking to soothe redness-prone skin. If you’re looking to add a mild exfoliant to your skincare routine and get your glow game on, then this ingredient is also great option for you. Regardless of your skin type, your skin will definitely appreciate a little gentle exfoliation! 



Gopaul R, Knaggs HE, Lephart JF, Holley KC, Gibson EM. An evaluation of the effect of a topical product containing salicin on the visible signs of human skin aging. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2010 Sep;9(3):196-201. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2010.00512.x. PMID: 20883292.

Credit for main photo: Matthew Henry 

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