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.


  1. Thelma Lapp Reply

    I have what dermatologist calls “BARBACLES ” on my scalp. And now on my face Bu hair line.
    I will start using witch hazel on face
    But can I use it on my scalp? Will it harm my hair?
    I’m 78 yrs. Old
    And I do not wear makeup.

    • gaelle Reply

      Hi Thelma, thank you for the great question! Organic formulations of witch hazel are perfectly fine to use on the scalp and should not harm the hair. It has been known to help treat certain scalp conditions such as dryness. We recommend slowly introducing it into your routine by using it every other day to gauge whether you are seeing the results you are looking for. As for the ‘barbacles’, I would continue seeing your dermatologist and following their recommendations as far as how to treat them. They may require more medical grade treatments to see improvement in reducing/removing them for good. We hope this information helps!

  2. Holly Beth Reply

    I have used Witch hazel for decades on my face as a toner. If it antifungal I might start using all over as I have eczema and nothing seems to stop the itching. Arrrrgghh

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