Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DIY Salicylic Acid Toner---So Easy and So Good!!!

White Willow Bark Extract

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I’m obsessed with skin care. I’m a big advocate of proper cleansing and the use of an acid based toner, a la Caroline Hirons (see this post for more) and in my quest for the perfect acid-based toner, I’ve used so many at all price points that it is mind boggling! Some were just perfect but really expensive and others were pretty inexpensive but contained so much alcohol (or the acid blend was so strong) that my skin dried out. And now, since I’m somewhat into the DIY trend, I’ve researched a bunch of different options until I found one that works really well for my dry winter skin.

salicylic acid

What many of these toners have in common is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) called salicylic acid. The active ingredient in aspirin, salicylic acid is a great exfoliator, keeping the pores clean and clear as well as soothing inflammation. Salicylic acid is also great for acne, promoting rapid cell turnover. Since many of the commercially prepared toners I tried contained alcohol (and a couple were way too harsh for me), I sought out a toner that contained salicylic acid but no alcohol. Much to my chagrin, I couldn’t find any! So onto the internet I went, looking for an answer to the question, “Why is that?” What I found is that pure salicylic acid requires alcohol as a solvent to dissolve the acid. Since I wanted to avoid alcohol, that wouldn’t work. Fortunately, one of my sources, a well respected skincare message board, contained several threads on this very topic. I learned that while salicylic acid toner requires the use of alcohol, white willow bark, which is a natural source of salicylic acid, does not! Before too long, I had a toner recipe to try!

This toner is sooo easy to make and works really well without irritating my skin. I’ve been using it for about a month and a half and not only does it not sting, it doesn’t smell bad, tingle or dry out my face (a big deal in the cold of winter). I formulated my toner so that it has a 2% concentration of salicylic acid (which should work for those with acne as well). A note on the ingredients: you’ll need white willow bark, which can be purchased for a small amount at a number of online stores. I get mine at Skin Actives (link here), where it’s available for $5 for 5 grams. You’ll also need witch hazel hydrosol, which you’ll probably need to order online as this is NOT the stuff in the drugstore that’s full of alcohol. I purchased mine at Organic Witch Hazel but there are a number of suppliers (google “witch hazel hydrosol producers”).

Please do not attempt this if you are allergic to aspirin! For those of you who aren’t, here’s the recipe:

SALICYLIC ACID TONER 2% Using White Willow Bark
2 grams Powdered White Willow Bark
10 mls Distilled Water (room temp-- to dissolve the White Willow Bark]
20 mls witch hazel extract.
70 mls distilled water
Preservative (I have both Optiphen Plus -- which is paraben free -- and Germaben II but am not sure what I used—you can also get these at SkinActives)
This is really easy to put together. First, weigh out the white willow bark and place it into 10 mls of distilled water, which should be at room temperature. Mix it thoroughly until the white willow bark is fully dissolved. Then add the other ingredients, being sure to mix everything up well. This recipe makes enough for roughly four ounces. I keep mine in an amber bottle and apply it twice daily as part of my cleansing routine. Easy peasy!!! In my opinion, this toner is great as it is but if you want to add fragrance, you could do that as well.

This is now my go-to toner and I luuuurve it! I’ll always try other products but this one is the cats meow and is my holy grail acid toner.

If you try it, let me know what you think!!!