The Willow tree, of the family Salicaceae and genus Salix, is common to much of North America. The Black Willow (Salix nigra) tree, famous for its dark brown, ridged bark which is rich in tannins and salicylic acid-like materials, is found primarily in the eastern part of the continent. Aqueous extracts of the bark made from freshly harvested bark collected in the spring are said to have analgesic, antiseptic, astringent, anti-pyretic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Willow Bark Extract is a source of natural salicylic acid-like ingredients which has been shown to contribute effects similar to those seen from synthetic salicylic acid with none of the drawbacks associated with its use, primarily irritation. As such, it is a safe way to get the benefits of a ß-hydroxy acid.
Salicylic acid, when used in cosmetic formulations at 0.5% to 1%, enhances skin cell turnover by promoting exfoliation, resulting in a general improvement in the appearance of the skin and a smoothing effect with accompanying reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. Also known for its antimicrobial properties, it can be useful as a remedy for problem skin conditions.