Skin is the largest organ in the body. It also happens to be one of the most complicated. So, it is no surprise that skin maintenance is just as complex as the skin itself.
There are thousands of skincare ingredients on the market and even more opinions. Over the last few years, Witch Hazel has been an ongoing topic of discussion.
What exactly is Witch Hazel, though, and what kind of benefits can it bring to your skin? Is it safe to use, and what are the facts?
We’ll explore these questions, so be sure to read on!
What Is Witch Hazel?
Witch Hazel, or Hamamelis virginiana, is a flowering shrub with strap-like flowers and irregular branching that grows naturally along woodland edges.
Many of its uses, both modern and traditional, are medicinal in nature.
What Are the Common Uses of Witch Hazel?
The medicinal benefits of the plant come from its leaves, barks, and twigs. These plant parts are processed to create a clear solution.
Witch Hazel extract is most commonly used topically for skin itchiness or swelling. It can be applied directly to the skin for relief of insect bites, acne, minor burns, and bruises.
In the cosmetic industry, Witch Hazel extract has found its way into many skincare products. It is most commonly used as an ingredient in astringents, toners, and skin tighteners. An astringent is a chemical that constricts and shrinks body tissue and helps to reduce oil production.
The plant extract in Witch Hazel can act as a coagulant due to its astringent nature which helps the skin tighten and draw together. This is why the ingredient is used in products that aim to cleanse the skin, tighten pores, and dry out oil.
The Possible Benefits of Witch Hazel?
Tannins, found in Witch Hazel, is a plant-based compound that has astringent and antioxidant properties. The leaf, in particular, has shown to subside symptoms of inflammation. Witch Hazel also contains gallic acid, which possesses anti-fungal, anti-viral, and antioxidant properties.
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about the properties of Witch Hazel, let’s talk about how they relate to skin benefits.
May Help Reduce the Signs of Inflammatory Skin Conditions
Witch Hazel can help to ease symptoms associated with skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, or eczema. Its anti-inflammatory properties can provide a skin-soothing effect for itching, pain, redness, or scarring. While its hydrating effects help to improve the skin barrier.
The drug-free nature of Witch Hazel makes it a home remedy choice for many who value a more natural product. However, its benefits can be maximized when paired with other ingredients such as aloe vera gel, or tea tree oil.
It May Help Treat and Prevent Acne Breakouts
As an astringent, Witch Hazel works to dry out acne blemishes while still hydrating the skin with its barrier-stabilizing effects. This is what makes it a popular targeted treatment and remedy for acne.
Witch Hazel’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties help ease existing zits by contracting the skin cells and constricting blood flow. These same properties may also remove excess oils while temporarily shrinking the size of your pores and protecting the skin from pathogens that cause acne.
However, it should be noted that moisturizing is still an important step after using products like Witch Hazel. In anti-acne skincare routines, it can be tempting to dry out the skin, but over-stripping and dryness can lead to increased oil and sebum production which will lead to more acne.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties, Witch Hazel can also be used as a topical remedy for:
- Bug bites
- Diaper rash
- Cuts and wounds
Safety Tips and Best Practices on How to Use Witch Hazel
Whilst studies do say that Witch Hazel is safe, it’s best to get yourself tested for allergies first. For instance, some people with very sensitive skin may develop minor skin irritation.
Also, note that some commercial Witch Hazel preparations may contain alcohol. Alcohol, in turn, can cause the skin to dry out.
As always, when introducing a new skincare product to your routine it is best to patch test first! Apply a tiny amount of Witch Hazel on a small patch of your skin and wait 24 hours. If no redness, itchiness, or swelling occurs, then you can gradually apply more.
It is best to stay away from products that contain a fair amount of alcohol. Instead, stick to pure formulas that contain only Witch Hazel and nothing more.
The Bottom Line?
There are many benefits of Witch Hazel, but as with any skincare ingredient, it must be used with care.
This topical remedy is a must-have product for those who enjoy natural products in their skincare arsenal.