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Out of the Woods: Bark Appears in Skin Care

By Nica Lewis
Posted: May 7, 2008

The natural trend is branching out from a focus on fruit, flowers and berries. Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD) reports there is a growing use of bark, leaves and roots in skin and hair care. This year has already seen the launch of at least 200 products including tree-based ingredients. While the use of wood for scent is well-established, beauty manufacturers are highlighting the active benefits of tree-related ingredients. This development has its origins in traditional Chinese medicine where roots and bark were used for antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory purposes.

Azzaro Lab Azzaro Skinforce is a new men’s skin care line that claims “all the strength of trees for the skin.” The company's theory is that the skin has the same vital needs as a tree, i.e., hydration, nourishment and protection against the environment. The product range is formulated with a the company's wood energy complex featuring extracts of baobab, sequoia bark and bocoa (iron wood). Extracts from these emblematic trees were selected for their hardiness. The dermatologist-tested moisturizing fluid is said to provide long-lasting hydration, as well as prevent the appearance of first lines. It is also formulated with vitamin E, caffeine and an anti-pollution complex.

UK spa brand ESPA launched Super Activ, a new range of products formulated with ultra-concentrated plant, marine and bio-enzymatic ingredients. The Tone & Firm Concentrate contains witch hazel bark/leaf/twig extract, as well as extracts from mulberry leaf and bearberry leaf. It claims to help restructure the skin, enhance cellular communication and stimulate collagen synthesis. The concentrate is designed as a four-week treatment. In keeping with the natural positioning, the products are free from synthetic colors, fragrances, parabens, SLS and SLES.

Salix nigra (American willow) bark extract is a natural source of salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, reports Mintel. It is mildly antiseptic and clears skin. Similarly, Salix Alba (white willow) bark calms and smoothes the skin. In the past, white willow extract was used to treat rheumatism, headaches and arthritis. Today, both white and black willow bark are formulated into skin care products. Recent examples include the following.

John Allan’s Skin Face Replenishing Moisturizer contains willow bark, shea butter, cocoa butter and oat extract. It provides antiaging correction and prevention due to vitamins A, B2, C, D, E and K. John Allan is a New York-based stylist who launched his hair care brand in 1998; skin care and shaving lines have since been added.