I’ve written extensively here on my blog about natural health and beauty topics, and many of those posts have included some mention of witch hazel. In fact, I even wrote a post entirely about ways you can use witch hazel! (Check that out at the link below.) But even as familiar as I have become with using witch hazel, I didn’t know a lot about what it actually is or how it works!
So that is where today’s post comes in. I’ve done my research, and I’m ready to provide some real answers today! We’ll be doing an exploration into the mysterious, magical world of witch hazel. I’ll tell you all about what it is, the benefits of witch hazel, the kinds of witch hazel products you can find in stores, and even the best ways to apply it! If you’ve ever wondered what’s the deal with witch hazel, you’ll have all the answers you need by the end of this post! :-)
What Is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel is an extract from the plant Hamamelis Virginiana, a flowering shrub native to North America. It is occasionally called “winterbloom,” because it’s one of the few plants that flower over the winter months. Witch hazel extract has an astringent effect, which contracts skin tissue in order to tighten skin and close up pores.
Native Americans utilized witch hazel for medicinal purposes for many years before English colonists arrived in America. They found it useful for treating skin conditions like ulcers and sores, soothing colds and coughs, and even as a method to stop bleeding.
What Are The Benefits Of Witch Hazel?
1. It Relieves Inflammation
Witch hazel contains gallic acid and natural tannins, two compounds that possess useful anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation can occur for a variety of reasons, and typically takes the form of redness, pain, or swelling. Applying anti-inflammatory witch hazel can help reduce these uncomfortable symptoms.
2. It Reduces Skin Irritation
Many skin conditions are aggravated by inflammation. So the anti-inflammatory effects of witch hazel can help soothe and even treat these skin conditions. Here are a few conditions that witch hazel may help improve:
- Allergic reactions
- Puffy eyes
3. It Fights Acne
The astringent effect of witch hazel can be a great tool for those with oily and acne-prone skin. Witch hazel shrinks pores, helping to prevent grime and bacteria from getting in and forming new pimples. (However, if you don’t have oily or acne-prone skin, the astringent effect of witch hazel may be too drying.)
What Kind Of Witch Hazel Should I Buy?
There are many different kinds of witch hazel products on the market today. The most common form is 100% witch hazel extract (or “distilled extract of witch hazel.”) The ingredient list may note that it contains around 14% natural grain alcohol. The distillation process naturally produces that alcohol, so is not an additive.
Other witch hazel products are marketed as “toners,” indicating that other ingredients have been included in the formula. Many times these additives are natural, skin-friendly ingredients such as aloe vera, rose water, and other botanical extracts. (Just make sure to check the ingredients list, and be wary of any ingredients you don’t recognize.)
One of the most popular witch hazel products is Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner with Aloe Vera. This toner combines the benefits of witch hazel with soothing and moisturizing aloe and rose water. It’s a great way to get the anti-inflammatory benefits of witch hazel while offsetting the drying effect with moisturizing ingredients. (Check out the Amazon customer reviews—people SWEAR by this stuff!)
How Do I Apply Witch Hazel?
Most witch hazel comes in a flip-top bottle, so it’s easy to apply using a cotton round. Just squeeze a bit of the witch hazel onto the round, then gently wipe the round over the area you want to apply it to. Let it air dry, and that’s all there is to it!
Other types of witch hazel products can be very convenient for easy application. I’ve been buying packages of witch hazel wipes, which are pre-moistened and ready to go! They’re really useful for traveling or taking along to the gym. There’s even a witch hazel spray that you can spritz directly onto your skin!
No matter what form or brand of witch hazel you use, you’re sure to enjoy the benefits of this “magical” extract!
What’s your favorite way to use witch hazel?