Humans have been using willow bark extract since the very dawn of civilization: we still have the 4,000-year-old clay tablets from ancient Sumer that recommend using this ingredient for pain relief. And much more recently (only 2,000 years ago!) there's evidence from both China and Greece that this tradition lived on in their cultures, as well. So it makes sense that the first clinical study on willow bark is also one of the first clinical studies, well, ever, back in 18th century London. This set off a series of studies that remain ongoing today, making the properties of willow bark extract one of the best-studied ingredients in world history. Which makes sense: one derivation of willow bark is the key ingredient in aspirin.
How Is Willow Bark Extract Good For Skin?
Given that willow bark has been used for thousands of years in many different cultures, we'd have been extremely surprised if modern studies didn't confirm our longstanding beliefs about how effective this ingredient really is. And while we'd love to see even more studies on the subject, we're thrilled that modern studies confirm what traditional healers have known for a long time.
Willow Bark Extract Can Help Minimize Signs Of Aging
This stuff is great for a variety of issues related to skin aging, as it turns out. One study found that willow bark extract was able to visibly improve wrinkles, uneven texture, pore size, and radiance in as little as one week, and issues like uneven skin tone and issues like elasticity and firmness improved by the twelve week point—pretty impressive results for a very old ingredient.
This Ingredient Is Also Ideal For Treating Acne and Inflammation
Willow bark extract has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically—which is great because inflammation plays a large role in causing and exacerbating acne. (Inflammation is also often the cause of redness and swelling). Another study shows that willow bark extract actually prevents acne separately—so it's kind of a double-whammy that way. The component of willow bark extract that helps treat acne is called "Acetylsalicylic acid," which is related to salicylic acid and has similar acne-fighting properties, but is often considered less harsh on the skin.
Is Willow Bark Extract Safe?
This ingredient earns a squeaky-clean rating from EWG, and multiple studies confirm that participants only have positive reactions to this ingredient. That said, anyone who is allergic to aspirin or salicylic acid should naturally avoid using products containing this ingredient.
How To Use Willow Bark Extract
Willow bark extract is a great component to a variety of skincare products, and because it's excellent as both an anti-aging ingredient and a gentle acne-buster, it's really ideal as a component in high-quality facial cleansers.