Willow bark vs. Salicylic Acid | Kokoa Eco Beauty

Willow bark vs. Salicylic Acid

If you're a skincare lover, you've probably heard of Salicylic Acid - a skincare ingredient famed for helping to declog pores and treat acne. But have you heard of its natural counterpart, Willow Bark? 

Keep reading to learn more about these two ingredients, and if natural is really equally effective. 


What is Salicylic Acid? 

A skincare holy grail for those who have acne, salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). When applied topically, it works to improve the appearance of acne, blackheads and whiteheads.

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Benefits of Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid works to improve the appearance of acne, blackheads and whiteheads through penetrating into the skin and working to dissolve dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores, therefore acting as an exfoliant.

Alongside this, it has anti-inflammatory properties which helps to soothe acne and breakouts.

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What is Willow Bark?

Derived from the willow tree of the salix species, willow bark is a natural herbal extract which has been used for centuries as a medicine to relieve pain, inflammation and fever. 

Rough surface of colorful tree trunk 


Benefits of Willow Bark

Willow bark contains salicin, which is where salicylic acid comes from, due to this, they have very similar topical benefits. These include exfoliation and anti-inflammatory properties which aid with treating acne, breakouts, blackheads and whiteheads. Continuous use will also prevent these skin conditions. 

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Willow Bark vs. Salicylic Acid 

As its natural counterpart, willow bark is pretty much a gentler version of salicylic acid. 

Cosmetic chemist David Petrillo explains that "Even in small concentrations of 0.5% to 1%, salicylic acid may cause irritation, redness, flaking, and dryness. Those with sensitive skin may actually break out more because of salicylic acid."

Whereas "Studies have found that even at a level of 100%, which is equivalent to 10% formulation of salicylic acid, salicin is non-irritating," which shows that while still containing exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties, willow bark is gentler to the skin. 


When using any of these ingredients, make sure to moisturise after. Using skincare ingredients with exfoliating properties could dry out your skin. 

woman with towel applying cream on face 



You can find willow bark as a natural source of salicylic acid in our Aloe, Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Toner, Orange & Juniper Berry Toner, Liquid African Black Soap Facial Cleanser, Raw Fruit & Clay Masks, and our Coffee, Wild Raspberry & Brown Sugar Facial Exfoliator.

 Kokoa's Natural Toners with willow bark (natural source of salicylic acid)

Have you tried willow bark or salicylic acid in your skincare routine? 

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