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.