Sunday, February 21, 2010

White willow bark extract

White willow bark (INCI: Salix alba extract) is a water soluble extract with a two year shelf life. It is an astringent extract - thanks to all those lovely tannins - with anti-inflammatory, anti-reddening, and anti-septic qualities.

The main features of white willow bark extract are the salicylic acid and the salicin, a phenolic glucoside. Salicylic acid, as we saw yesterday, offers keratolytic (exfoliating), anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, and analgesic properties. Salicin is processed by our body to become salicylic acid, so it is the precursor to all those lovely qualities. We can use white willow bark as a substitute for BHA or salicylic acid in our creations. It is good for oil control products as well.

White willow bark also contains tannins, specifically gallotannins like those found in green tea. This means white willow bark will be a more astringent extract than something like chamomile extract. These tannins have been shown to be excellent anti-oxidants and good anti-inflammatories, offering some post-sun exposure protection and anti-reddening features.

White willow bark extract would be a fabulous inclusion in any products where you want the awesome power of salicylic acid to reduce redness and exfoliate your skin.

As a caution, because it is sloughing off the top layer of your skin, white willow bark and salicylic acid can make you sun sensitive, so you might want to re-consider it in something you might use in the summer. And if someone is allergic to salicylic acid or aspirin, there is a chance they will react adversely to the use of white willow bark. And whatever you do, don't use another extract that offers exfoliation or salicylic acid - there's an example of too much of a good thing!

As a note, you can find powdered white willow bark extract (usage at 0.1 to 1%) or liquid white willow bark extract (2.5% to 5%). Both are soluble in water and should be added to the cool down phase of your product.

Join me tomorrow for some super formulating fun with white willow extract!


Anonymous said...

Your blog is awesome, thank you for sharing so much valuable info. I am trying to source white willow bark extract and can't seem to find it locally,(cloverdale) can you share with us your supplier. I am in my mid 40's and I am still having break outs on my face, I am learning how to make my own products and would like to add white willow bark extract to my cleanser.
Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jana. Karen at carries it. She has amazing service - order one day, get it the next - if you live in the Lower Mainland! Monica at Aquarius has it, too, if you want to go somewhere in person (in Mission).

You're in Cloverdale? I would love to have a meet up with Lower Mainlanders some time!

Michele Clarke said...

What is the difference between white and black willow bark as for benefits to the skin/hair?

heela said...

I wonder if this needs to be in a product that has a pH between 3-4 like traditional salicylic acid? Also, if it is in a higher pH formulation, does the salicylic acid become neutralized or can you drop the pH and retain the benefits?

Lisa Reidzans Schmock said...

I have some pre-made Liquid Glycerin Soap Base. Ingredients are:

Deionized Water, Glycerin, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamide DEA, Soyamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol.

Would I be able to add some White Willow Bark extract and Chamomile extract to that do you think?



Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lisa! Definitely! You'll probably have to dissolve the extracts in water or glycerin before adding, but you won't need to add much! Sounds like a great idea.

danserenpetiteculotte said...

Hey Susan!

I was wondering.
I declared an allergy to aspirin (after taking it regularly for years) at 12.
Can I at least test it at a low % in a product on a small spot behind my ears or is it definitely not an option that I might NOT be allergic to it?
I would love to be able to use it if I can :)


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi danserenpetiteculotte. I am very uncomfortable making any suggestions for any allergies, so I'll have to leave it up to your discretion about whether to try it or not.

Christa Marks said...

Hi Susan,

I'm enjoying your downloaded Formulating Facial Products and am learning quite a bit, so thanks for that. On your blog you have lots of entries about using White Willow Bark Extract, but I couldn't find anything on White Willow Bark Powder. I've added it to a masque that i make and wanted to add it to a cleanser. What is your recommended percentage of using the powder in a cleansing product?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Christa. As I mention in the post, you can use the powdered white willow bark at up to 1% in the cool down phase. If you click "newer posts", you'll see some recipes in which I use powdered white willow bark in cleansers.

Hobbiz said...

Hi Susan,

It is said that salicylic is only about 10% in White willow bark extract. So if I use 5% of White willow bark extract, I can only ultilise 0.5% SA in my recipe. Will it work effectively with that minimum amount and if I want to increase it to 2.0%, should I increase the White willow bark extract too?

Thanks Susan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I have the same question as Hobbiz: using liquid willow bark extract standardized to 10% salicylic acid at 5% yields 0.5% salicylic acid; if I would like 2% salicylic acid, could I use 20% willow bark extract? Lotioncrafter claims that "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." I'd like to make something similar to Silk Naturals's 2% BHA Toner (Distilled Water, Aloe Vera Juice, Black Willow Bark Extract at a pH of 3.5-4.5

Thanks so much,