There are quite a few ways to give your skincare product some personality. You can have a unique active. You can have a particular geographical location. You can be endorsed by a celebrity. Salix Alba ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to this. It boasts a natural source of salicin. It comes from the UK’s Lake District. And it is endorsed by somebody from a well known Australian soap opera. Don’t ask me who – I hardly watch any television. But this is a beauty science blog and so I am going to ignore all of the above and just look at the product itself.
Ardent pub quizzers will tell you that Salix alba is the latin name for white willow. They will probably follow it up by pointing out that the chemical name for aspirin is methyl salicylate, so called because its precursor was first identified in willow bark. So the first thing I did was look at the ingredient list to see what willow derivative they were using. I was a bit puzzled so I referred to the literature to discover that the story was that the water they use from the Cartmel Vally aquifer has a natural salicin content. Salicin, or salicylic acid as it is more usually known, has quite a few uses in skin care. It can be used to treat acne, where it kills off the bacteria in the spots. At higher levels its keratolytic activity can be used to remove warts. Basically it destroys the skin in which the wart virus lives.
I was interested in just how much salicin this water contains. I googled it and found that a company is selling it under the name Willow Water. Their website doesn’t divulge the quantity. The absolute maximum is going to be about 0.1% since salicylic acid isn’t very water soluble and it is quite cold in Cumbria a lot of the time, which reduces the solubility still further. I doubt the actual level is anything like that. Given that salicylic acid is found at low levels in quite a few fruits and vegetables I don’t find any of this particularly exciting but I suppose it makes a nice story. This is a moisturiser that contains a natural source of a well known cosmetic active ingredient at a level way too low to have any actual effect.
So what is the product itself like? It is a very light lotion that rubs in very easily. I didn’t find it had a particularly strong moisturising effect, but that would not necessarily be a problem. A lot of men like a fairly light effect – just enough is often plenty. The ingredients look well chosen. They are drawn from the palette of raw materials that appeal to the natural consumer. But they are generally ones that work quite well like shea butter and jojoba oil.
The packaging is little austere, but it suits the brand well enough. I’d guess that they have concentrated their efforts on other aspects and are probably wise to do so.
So all in all a nice product. I personally find the special water story rather weak, but this is probably a matter of taste. It might be a good reason for stocking it in outlets in the north west of England. Who knows, one day Cartmell Valley water might have the same cachet as Evian or LaRoche Posay. But Salix Alba have a lot of work to do first. In particular I think they need to come up with a stronger justification for the benefits. A good example is something the willow water company have done. They actually did a trial where they got people to drink the water and report how much it improved their skin. That would be more likely to make me want to buy it anyway.
This review was done on a free sample of Salix Alba Maximus for Men supplied by the manufacturer. This did not influence me in any way. In fact, the last thing I want is another bloody moisturiser.
Here are some details of the water, though not enough for my liking.