Witch hazel’s long history of use as a healing extract and beauty aid has earned it a prominent place in both beauty products and the medicine cabinet. The beauty benefits of witch hazel stem from its astringent and pore minimizing properties – which tighten the skin and give it a smoother look – and its antiseptic properties that aid in cleansing, soothing and clearing the skin.

Traditional Uses of Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is derived from the North American native shrub Hamamelis virginiana and got its common name from the practice of “water witching” in which forked branches of witch hazel are used to divine the presence of underground water sources.

Native Americans used an extract from its bark as an all-purpose remedy for skin problems. It was used for inflammation, eye irritations, cuts, insect bites, and infections. Early settlers soon realized the benefits of the shrub and begin extracting and distilling witch hazel for themselves. It became a staple in early American medicine cabinets for the treatment of internal as well as external ailments and remains in wide use today.

Nowadays, we know of its anti-inflammatory, anesthetic, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties. They earn witch hazel a place in the modern medicine cabinet.

Beauty Benefits of Witch Hazel

In beauty products, the primary benefits of witch hazel are due to its astringent properties. It tightens pores, making it an ideal pore minimizer. It also has disinfectant properties that help prevent breakouts and soothe rashes and irritations.

A witch hazel toner will

  • Tighten pores
  • Give skin a smooth, more flawless look
  • Wash away residual oils
  • Flush out dead skin cells
  • Deeply cleanse the pores
  • Reduce clogging
  • Reduce breakouts

Alcohol-free Witch Hazel

Active compounds are found in the bark and twigs of the shrub, which are harvested in the fall when the plant’s tannin content is highest. The bark and branches are cut into small chips and then steam-distilled to yield a pure, concentrated extract.

Traditionally, witch hazel has been preserved with alcohol. Unfortunately, this requires a large amount of alcohol and causes many witch hazel extracts to be overly drying, up to the point of being too harsh for delicate skin. People with oily skin may see this drying action as a benefit, but in fact, overly-drying products can cause oily skin to produce even more oil than before. And for dry skin, there is no temporary benefit at all. It’s best to use an alcohol-free product so that skin can enjoy the benefits of witch hazel extract without having to endure the drying effects of alcohol – especially as the use of a facial toner is part of everyday routine.

Witch Hazel In Facial Toners

Alcohol-free witch hazel can be blended with pH-balanced hydrosols to make a pore-minimizing facial toner that is suitable for even the most sensitive skin. Toner Supérieure, containing organic alcohol-free witch hazel blended with seven other organic botanicals, is an organic facial toner that is suitable for all skin types.

Botanical astringents are the best organic toner ingredients. They have been used safely for centuries to clear the complexion and give skin a smoother, more flawless look.

They are suitable for all skin types and will:

  • minimize pores
  • balance pH
  • soothe irritations
  • reduce breakouts

How Organic Toner Ingredients Work

Astringent Action. When an astringent is applied to the skin, the pores get smaller and the skin becomes smoother, giving a more polished look to the complexion. For best results, an astringent should be used every day, which is why it is important to use an organic toner that you can be sure is free from harmful chemicals.

pH Balancing. Along with minimizing pores, we also want to deeply cleanse them. Cleansers are often alkaline and can cause the skin to lose its protective, acidic mantle. That sets the stage for problems. The solution is to use a toner that is pH balanced so the skin’s acid mantle is restored after the deep cleansing has been done. Botanical extracts do the job very well.

Breakout Protection. When the pores have been minimized, they are less prone to clogging. In combination with balanced pH, this gives rise to healthier skin and reduced breakouts. And in addition to minimizing pores, the best organic toner ingredients will also deliver antiseptic benefits, building further protection from environmental stressors, and contributing further to reduced breakouts.

Soothing Irritation. Large pores are vulnerable to irritation. They can easily become inflamed, causing redness and blemishes that attract the wrong kind of attention. Botanical extracts such as rose water and cucumber extract have soothing properties which, in combination with mild astringency, can bring relief to troubled skin.

The Problem with Synthetic Ingredients

As scientists study the nature of plants, they find a seemingly endless array of complex chemicals.  As new beneficial chemicals are discovered, they seek to isolate them for use in manufactured products.  The result may be a cheaper product, with some of the benefits found in the plant, but it’s not necessarily the best for your skin.  I’m not a fan of synthetic pore minimizers. They often have a temporary tightening effect, giving the feeling they are closing the pores, but over time, the results I have seen are not good. It’s as though they cause the skin to become stretched so that it loses some of its elasticity and you can end up with a bigger problem than when you started.

Toner Ingredients for Different Skin Types

The organic toner ingredients listed below can be used safely on all skin types, provided they have not been preserved with alcohol. However, for dry sensitive skin it is best to blend the stronger astringents with milder ones to provide a more gentle treatment.

Some astringents, like alcohol, can be very drying, which seems helpful if you have oily skin that is breaking out. But repeated use of drying chemicals on oily skin can actually result in even greater output of oil, leaving you worse off than when you started. And if you have dry skin, alcohol is not a good option at all. So it is better to use alcohol-free toner ingredients.

The Best Organic Toner Ingredients

Hydrosols. Hydrosols, made from flowers and herbs, are ideal organic toner ingredients. A hydrosol is a byproduct of steam distillation process used to extract essential oils.  After the highly fragrant oil is extracted, lightly fragrant, astringent water – the hydrosol – remains. Hydrosols can have astringent properties that can cause a tingling sensation on your skin.  A little tingling is fine and it just means your skin is responding to the astringent nature of the product, but if the tingling persists for more than a few minutes, try a different product.

Witch Hazel. With a long history of use as a healing extract and beauty aid, witch hazel is a natural part of good skin care. Its high tannin content makes it a potent astringent, ideal for pore minimizing. Plus, it has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties that can help reduce breakouts, and its soothing qualities can be used to decrease puffiness, particularly around the eyes. However, witch hazel extracts often contain a lot of alcohol. These are to be avoided in favor of alcohol-free extracts. If you have dry or sensitive skin, it is best to blend witch hazel with milder astringents.

Rose Water. Rose water is the gentlest of astringents. It blends well with witch hazel. Like other hydrosols, rose water has a slightly acid pH to restore the chemical balance of the skin and help it ward off breakouts. Of course, its scent is heavenly. You can take it anywhere!

Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar will minimize pores and protect the health of your skin. It will support a smoother, clearer complexion.  Its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties help to reduce breakouts. It is best to blend apple cider vinegar with other natural astringents to enhance their overall beautifying effect, and to provide a more refreshing overall scent.

Green Tea. Green tea is an anti-aging treasure chest. Antioxidants make up 25% of its dry weight. Green tea will clean the pores and improve skin tone. It helps make skin firmer and more elastic, and its antioxidant protection can slow the appearance of aging caused by sun exposure It is an astringent, too. Just what is needed in a facial toner.

Cucumber Extract. Ever wanted to be cool as one of these? You skin has – especially when it is swollen or inflamed. Cucumber is a mild astringent, better known for its soothing and cooling qualities. It relieves rashes, reduces swelling, cleanses and closes pores, and brightens the complexion. Perfect in combination with other astringents to minimize your pores and smooth your skin.

Calendula Extract. Calendula is a pore minimizer, anti-aging treatment, and skin beautifier, all in one. Its petals are colored by 19 different carotinoids, each of which is an antioxidant powerhouse. Calendula smooths fine lines, makes skin firmer, soothes dry skin, and reduces irritation – all while serving as a mild natural astringent to refine your pores. Your skin will love it.

Peppermint Extract. Peppermint is a gentle astringent, high in salicylic acid that clears dead cells and brightens the complexion.  It has anesthetic and disinfectant properties too, so peppermint will give your pores a soothing, deep cleanse while it improves your skin tone. And the scent of mint will refresh your skin whenever you use it.

Elderflower Extract. Elderflowers are mildly astringent. Their anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce breakouts, and their bioflavanoids can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging skin. Elderflowers are an ideal part of your daily skincare routine. They can be conveniently included in your organic toner.

Organic Toner Ingredients You Can Rely On

These ingredients have stood the test of time. They are at their best when they are used without fillers, alcohol or synthetic chemicals. They are safe and simple to use every day, no matter what your skin type.


Your skin’s pH is a measure of how acid or alkaline it is. If your skin is in good health it will maintain a gently acidic balance, and to keep your skin looking good, it’s important to use products that support its pH balance.


Your skin’s secretions of sebum and perspiration, and the beneficial bacteria that live on your skin, create a gently acidic, healthy environment for your skin.

This is known as your skin’s ‘acid mantle,’ a term which captures its protective nature. Keeping your skin at this pH:

  • Protects your skin from drying
  • Slows down the formation of wrinkles
  • Helps keep the elements at bay
  • Discourages bacterial and fungal infections
  • Reduces breakouts


Cleansing can be taken too far! When we wash, we rinse oils from our skin and shift it in an alkaline direction.

Commercial soaps tend to be highly alkaline, and can contain free alkalis that react with your skin’s natural oils to strip away its acid mantle, leaving your skin feeling bare and tight.

Skincare that’s high in alcohol can also shift your skin away from a healthy pH. Treated this way, your skin can become dry, age faster, and end up less resilient against infection.

(Unfortunately even some organic products use quite a lot of alcohol as a preservative. We chose Ecocert as the organic certifier of our skincare specifically so we could bring you organic skincare without high levels of alcohol.)


Your sebum production reduces as you age. After cleansing and using other treatments, it takes your body longer to restore your skin’s correct pH balance.


But of course your skin doesn’t appreciate strong acids either.

If you have sensitive skin, it may struggle with products which are formulated to be quite acidic, to provide greater exfoliation, or to encourage beneficial ingredients to penetrate deeper into your skin.


Keeping your pH where your skin wants it to be starts with  gentle cleansing.

Moisturizing with natural plant oils helps to restore your acid mantle, and so do pH-balanced toners.

Well-formulated toners and moisturizers compensate for the alkalinizing effect of cleansers and soaps, keeping your skin happy skin.