Your Complete Guide To Aspen Bark Extract

Your Complete Guide To Aspen Bark Extract - Three Ships

We get it – skincare can seem overwhelming. Blemishes are inevitable, but they don’t have to ruin your day or become the subtext of your every skincare thought. 

At Three Ships Beauty, we’re here to help you clear the confusion about clearing your skin. 

Together, we’ll talk about how aspen bark extract, a natural, plant-based ingredient, can help improve your skin’s pH balance and help you see more clarified results without redness or irritation. 

Aspen Bark Extract: Understanding The Basics

Take a closer look at your skincare ingredients, and what you see might surprise you. When you see an ingredient in a product, you deserve to know why it’s there, and what it does. 

Ingredients should be intentional, and aspen bark is an intentional ingredient you’ll find in Three Ships Beauty products, like our Refresh Papaya + Salicylic Acid Cleanser

What Is Aspen Bark Extract? 

Aspen Bark, or “Populus tremuloides,” is a naturally-sourced, plant-based extract from the bark of certain aspen trees. It targets skin issues, like pH imbalance and uneven skin texture, which can look like bumps and blemishes. 

How We Get It From Plant to Product

Although our goal is to keep the ingredients in our products as close to their naturally occurring state as possible, rubbing tree bark on your skin would probably cause you more than just a little irritation! 

That’s why we carefully submerge the plant in a water-based solution for extraction and an overall easier facial application.

Aspen contains salicylate, a natural form of salicylic acid (which we’ll cover in a moment). Once we’ve extracted that ingredient from the plant base, we filter the concentrate to remove unnecessary plant matter so that it doesn’t continue to the final product. 

Aspen bark is a phenomenal skincare ingredient, to know why it’s important to understand how pimples develop in the first place. 

Acne 101

Acne vulgaris is the umbrella term for every type of acne your skin can experience. This skin issue includes whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, and cystic acne bumps. These blemishes form deep within the pores of your skin. 

At the base of every pore lies a sebaceous gland. These glands produce sebum, your skin’s natural oil. Sebum helps keep your skin nourished, hydrated, and protected, which is an essential element of your skin’s health. 

But sometimes, sebum production doesn’t go as smoothly as it should. 

When too little sebum is produced, skin can be dry and flaky. When too much sebum is produced, it can mix with bacteria and dead skin cells hanging out on the surface of your skin and form acne blemishes. 

Here are some of the most common reasons for sebum production changes in the skin. 


If you have a direct family member who has struggled with acne (especially a parent), you may also be more likely to experience acne issues. Genetics play a huge role in how our skin behaves – right down to whether or not your pores are visible. 

Even if you have family members with acne, you don’t have to live with blemishes. Choosing the right skincare products and ingredients can help calm your skin and improve its overall texture. 


Changes in hormone levels can affect the way your skin produces sebum. Androgens, like testosterone, cause your skin to produce more oil, leading to clogged pores and blemishes. 

If you notice more acne during your menstruation cycle or certain phases of life (like adolescence, pregnancy, or menopause), it could be due to a shift in your hormones. 

Poor Skin Care

Sometimes, our own best efforts to deal with the pain of repeated blemishes make matters worse. To help get rid of bumps as fast as possible, we often use harsh products with chemical ingredients that can dry out the skin and create irritation. 

When the skin is dehydrated, it can cause an even oilier problem. In response to dry skin, your sebaceous glands produce more oil to compensate, which can mix with bacteria and dirt on the surface of your skin and create a bigger blemish problem. 

pH Imbalance

The skin microbiome is naturally somewhat acidic, which helps keep your skin protected and ensures the community of flora living on your skin is properly balanced. 

When the skin barrier, known as the stratum corneum, experiences a change in acidity levels, you can experience skincare issues. If the acidity level drops too low, causing your skin to become more alkaline, you can begin to notice dry, flaky skin. 

If the acidity level rises, your chances of developing acne rise, too. Studies show that skin with a higher pH level is more likely to experience acne issues. Correcting the instability of the stratum corneum and helping support the proper pH balance of the skin can help improve the skin’s overall clarity.

How Aspen Bark Works

Knowing what we do about skin, we know that fighting blemishes requires dealing with excess sebum production and helping ensure the pH balance of the skin is protected. 

Aspen bark works on both issues to help you see fewer blemishes. 

Salicylic Acid

The OG of pimple products, chances are you’re familiar with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is an acid that works well for combating blemishes, and aspen bark extract is a natural source of this potent ingredient. 

There are two big reasons why salicylic acid is so beneficial to blemish-prone skin. 

  • It’s a lipophilic compound. Lipophilic compounds are substances that naturally attract lipids and fats and easily dissolve into them. Your skin’s sebum? It’s primarily made up of fatty lipids. That means salicylic acid has the ability to deep dive into your pores, seek out sebum, and help break it up and remove it better than many other compounds.
  • It isn’t drying. Let’s face it, some acne products you’ve tried have left you red-faced, itchy, and completely irritated, not to mention…you probably still experience bumps. 

The reason? They cause the pH balance of your skin to become alkaline, which equates to dryness. Some treatments may not work for your skin as well as others, but salicylic acid from aspen bark is a gentler approach. 

Another important factor is the percentage of salicylic acid you use on your skin. While some products contain as much as 2% salicylic acid, most skin types can tolerate a product with a bit less and still see incredible results (sans redness, flakiness, and irritation).


We care just as much about the sustainability of our product ingredients as we do their efficacy on your skin. When sourcing salicylic acid naturally, there are typically two commonly used trees: aspen and willow. 

Aspen is more plentiful and generally more sustainable than willow, making it the best choice for inclusion with Three Ships Beauty.

Simplify Your Skincare

Finding a solution for acne-prone skin can feel like throwing yourself into a sea of skincare products and hoping something works. At Three Ships Beauty, we’re here to help you navigate those tricky waters and make it less challenging to find products that work for you.

Understanding the way skin works and how acne forms help us better understand the efficacy of skincare ingredients. That translates into easy-to-use, uncomplicated products that are gentle on your skin, yet tough on blemishes. 

You’ll find aspen bark extract in our Refresh Papaya + Salicylic Acid Cleanser. Formulated for oily and combination skin, this gentle yet effective wash is perfect for daily use and helps stabilize your skin’s pH balance. 

You’ll also get the benefits of the brightening-and-balancing papaya extract to keep your skin radiant and clarified. 

All this in an aloe leaf extract-based cleanser that won’t strip your skin of natural moisture or leave it feeling tight. 

All the blemish control you want. None of the harsh side effects. 

Get To Know Your Ingredients

With Three Ships Beauty, it’s easy to find solutions to help solve your most complex skincare problems in products that are natural, sustainably-sourced, and accessibly priced. It’s also easy to understand what’s inside your products, and how ingredients support healthy skin. 

Your skin is complicated, but skincare shouldn’t be. Three Ships Beauty makes skincare easy to navigate. 


Acne: Causes|American Academy of

Hormonal Acne: What Is It, Treatment, Causes & Prevention|My Cleveland

Skin Surface pH in Acne Vulgaris: Insights from an Observational Study and Review of the Literature - PMC

How Sustainable Is Aspen Wood? Here Are the Facts | Impactful Ninja

Refresh Papaya + Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Targets Blemishes


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Purify Aloe + Amino Acid Gel Cleanser

Hydrates Skin


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