In the past few decades, we as a beauty community have learned so much about harmful ingredients. We've empowered ourselves to study up on formulas ourselves, so big brands and beauty conglomerates can no longer take advantage of our trust. It's the very reason CLOVE + HALLOW was founded—after a health scare in which toxic ingredients were partially to blame, our founder and CEO, Sarah, dedicated herself to starting a cosmetics brand that was safe, minimalist, and, above all, transparent with its consumers.

Still, so much confusion abounds in clean beauty. Big beauty practices serious greenwashing tactics, while ingredient purists forget that "natural" substances like essential oils can be extremely sensitizing or even dangerous. And some of the safest ingredients out there just sound downright scary. Sodium hyaluronate? That would be hyaluronic acid. L-ascorbic acid? Good to see ya, vitamin C.

This time around, we're talking all things willow bark extract, a powerful natural ingredient that's related to salicylic acid... and that we packed into our H2Glow Hydrating Serum.

You know salicylic acid. In fact, it was probably the first serious skincare ingredient you ever used. It’s a key ingredient in many over-the-counter acne treatments, and for good reason: it gobbles up pore-clogging oil and debris better than Ms. Pac-Man. But where does it come from, and what does it have to do with willow bark extract? The bark of the willow has been a game-changer for thousands of years. Ancient Sumerians relied on willow bark extract for pain relief, and one compound from willow bark is still the key ingredient in aspirin today. It also contains salicin, which salicylic acid is derived from. But when the extract from the willow is left unaltered, it's known to have many of the same complexion benefits with less potential for irritation.

Let's talk about some of those benefits. Willow bark extract contains acetylsalicylic acid, which battles acne, detoxifies pores, and gently exfoliates in much the same way that salicylic acid does. It's also been proven to tackle inflammation, which tends to exacerbate blemishes. And because the extract is a gentle exfoliator, that means it also helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles, brighten dark spots, and refine uneven texture. Bonus points for its flavonoids and tannins, antioxidant sources found in willow bark extract that give it protective, skin-healing properties.

Finally, when it comes to safety, the EWG rates willow bark extract a completely harmless one, making it even safer than salicylic acid, which rates a relatively safe three. What's not to love?

January 19, 2021

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