W is for White Willow
I sometimes wonder how we became convinced that artificial ingredients, fragrances, and chemicals were a good idea to put on our skin. After all, people have been turning to plants for both beauty and medicinal reasons for thousands of years with great success. I’m so happy to see the tide turning back to safe, natural ingredients to support our skin and bodies. A perfect example is how the harsh, drying chemical salicylic acid can be replaced by the gentle, whole bark of the white willow.
If you’ve ever suffered from oily or blemished skin, you’re likely familiar with salicylic acid. It’s a prolific ingredient in acne treatments aimed at reducing oil, exfoliating the skin, and unclogging pores. These claims are true… sort of. Pure salicylic acid is potent, and works to dissolve dead skin cells and pore-clogging oils. It’s also a very harsh treatment because it dissolves all of the oils – including the ones meant to nourish and protect the skin. This can result in dryness and even more inflammation, because the skin can’t protect itself properly. It’s a vicious cycle of very oily then very dry skin, as the skin tries to find balance.
White Willow Bark’s Advantage
White willow bark was traditionally used as a pain reliever, to relieve fever, and to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. The key ingredient in these treatments turned out to be salicin, which is the precursor to both salicylic acid and acetylsalicylic acid, better known as ASA or Aspirin.
If salicylic acid comes from salicin, then can the salicin found in willow bark also reduce inflammation, oiliness, and clogged skin? Yes – but when used alone, salicin alone is just a single substance, and you lose out on the other healing parts of the plant. In addition to salicin, white willow bark also contains anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, as well as antibacterial tannins. There’s a lot of healing goodness in whole plants, and in the case of white willow bark, they all work together to calm inflammation while speeding up cell-turnover, clearing dead skin cells, and soothing the skin.
How to Use White Willow Bark on Your Skin
I created my Balancing Skincare Collection specifically for troubled skin. All of the products are designed to help your oily, congested, blemished skin find a healthy balance again. The White Willow & Clay Exfoliant & Mask includes white willow bark powder, and can be used in three ways:
As a gentle exfoliant. Massage gently onto the skin, and wash away.
As a deep treatment mask. Apply the mask, leave on between five and ten minutes, and wash away.
As a spot treatment. Apply the mask, and let sit for up to ten minutes.
The mask also contains Moroccan clay to help decongest the skin, and healing lavender to calm the skin and fight bacteria. If you’re struggling with congested or inflamed skin, this balancing mask can be used up to three times a week to gently reveal softer, clearer skin.
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