Willow Bark Extract

Skin conditioning
CAS Number(s)
EINECS number(s)

A multi-functional ingredient, providing gentle exfoliation for more radiant skin. Willow (Salix) Bark extract helps reduce acne and excess oil, signs of aging, and the appearance of wrinkles and refines pores. In addition, it minimizes pores.

Rich in salicin, the Willow bark extract goes to work to balance excess skin oils, refine and minimize pores, and clear skin. Highly anti-aging, the bark extract breaks down dead surface cells to reveal the newer, younger cells beneath, revitalizes the complexion, and diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

All members of the Willow (Salix) species are useful and most can be used interchangeably. Willow Bark Extract is derived from Salix nigra (Black Willow). Black Willow is a small tree that is native to moist woodlands and stream edges in southeastern North America. The bark is very astringent and rich in constituents such as salicin. Salicylic acid is derived from Salicin.

Willow bark has been used traditionally by herbalists and has been reported to have analgesic, antiseptic, astringent, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Today, willow bark extract is still used as an herbal remedy to treat pain and acts as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. In the cosmetic industry, willow bark extracts are used as a natural source of salicylic acid. The skin’s natural rate of exfoliation reduces with aging which can cause a build-up of dry, dull skin flakes.

Willow Bark Extract has been found to increase stratum corneum turnover more than synthetic salicylic acid with virtually no irritation. In a Repeat Insult Patch Test, Willow Bark Extract has been found to be non-irritating to the skin even at a level of 100%, equivalent to 10% synthetic salicylic acid. Willow Bark Extract exhibits antimicrobial characteristics and when incorporated at concentrations of 2.5% - 5.0%, it can be used as part of a preservative system for cosmetic formulations.

Active ingredients (or INCI)

Ingredient products

Biologique Recherche

Other beneficial properties

Willow Bark Extract has been shown to possess potent in vitro antimicrobial properties. Efficacy testing has shown that the extract has activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Propionibacterium acnes, two of the skin flora implicated in the formation of acne. When added to cosmetic formulations, the extract can also increase the cell renewal capabilities of cosmetic formulations. Again, Willow Bark Extract with its salicylic acid-like constituents is able to contribute effects similar to those seen from the synthetic acid and unlike synthetic salicylic acid, Willow Bark Extract is non-irritating. Willow Bark Extract is a safe way to get the benefits of ß-hydroxy acid without the risk of irritation.

Synthetic salicylic acid has been shown to enhance skin cell turnover at use levels in cosmetic formulations of around 0.5% to 1.0%. This cell renewal is accompanied by a general improvement in the appearance of the skin. The smoothing effect results in a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. But synthetic salicylic acid at even low use level of 1% can cause a degree of drying and irritation. As reported at the Society of Investigative Dermatology (Washington 1996: Bennet, Scholz, et al.) Willow Bark Extract provides the benefits of salicylic acid such as exfoliation and antimicrobial action, without any of the typically associated irritation. Therefore, naturally derived Willow Bark Extract has the same effects as synthetic salicylic acid with none of the drawbacks.