Foliage and part of the trunk of a willow tree.

Get to Know Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract 

Salix nigra, the black willow, is a species of willow native to eastern North America, from New Brunswick and southern Ontario west to Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also found in parts of Mexico, both south and west of the Rio Grande. Black willow trees can live for an average of 65 years, with a range of 40-100 years.

Benefits of Black Willow in Skin Care

Derived from the bark of the willow tree this extract contains salicin – from which salicylic acid is derived. It is used to soothe irritated skin, is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, clearing pores and alleviating acne and related irritation.

Salicylic acid has 2 types of ingredients: emollient & keratolytic, which work together to treat or prevent dry, rough, scaly, itchy skin (such as that caused by eczema, keratosis, xerosis).
In a higher dosage than skin is used to, salicylic acid disrupts the skin’s barrier, creating microscopic cracks that cause the skin to lose moisture and become irritated and inflamed — hence the red, itchy, flakiness that’s so often associated with acne treatments.
Treatment for acne

Salicylic acid is an ingredient used for treating acne. It is a natural exfoliator that eliminates dead cells from the stratum corneum. Daily use of salicylic acid keeps skin free from excess dead cells helping to prevent acne breakouts.


Salicylic acid is an exfoliator that sloughs off dead skin cells and reveals new, soft, and supple skin cells which lessen the appearance of lines and wrinkles and leaves skin feeling smoother and softer.

History and Pain Relief

Willow bark extract is very similar in its analgesic action to quinine; the active principle is Salicin. These salicylic acids are found in a number of herbal remedies used throughout the world, some dating as far back as the Stone Age. The willow first became known to Native Americans, who were in need of a fever-reducing agent and used willow bark tea as a remedy.

In 1763 the Rev. Edward Stone applied an old-fashioned theory. Three things were obvious—low, marshy regions; rheumatism; Willow trees. He tried a decoction of Willow bark on sufferers of rheumatic complaints and thus rediscovered the effectiveness of salicylic acid (Salix is Latin for Willow). Today it is known as common aspirin.

MUN Skin Article: Link (I’ve included the full article below)
Willow Bark Extract Benefits In Skin Care
In addition to salicin, Willow Bark Extract is also high in tannins, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and various minerals, all of which help 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 has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. (It’s 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. Although extremely effective, Salicin is gentle and non-irritating, making it safe for nearly all skin types. Popular skin care ingredient salicylic acid is the metabolized derivative of salicin.
  • Polyphenols — Phytonutrients (nutrients found in plants) with high antioxidant activity, polyphenols help our bodies—and therefore our skin—fight free radicals that damage our skin’s DNA and contribute to signs of aging. Polyphenols also aid in moisture retention, allowing our skin to stay hydrated and healthy. These powerful nutrients even help protect against photodamage, protecting our skin during sun exposure and minimizing 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. Frequently used in toners and other skin care products, 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 photodamage after UV exposure.
So how will Willow Bark Extract benefit my skin?
  • Provides gentle exfoliation for more radiant skin
  • Helps reduce acne and excess oil
  • Helps reduce signs of aging and the appearance of wrinkles
  • Refines pores and smoother look of skin
  • Helps alleviate conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea
  • Keeps skin looking firm and youthful

Happy Dermaplaning,

Rikki Kusy

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