My first experience of witch hazel was as a teenager when a makeup artist removed my eye (yes, eye!) makeup with it.
It brought my skin out in a rash and nearly burnt my eyelids off!
It was around this time I realized my skin type was sensitive, and I should probably pay better attention to what was being put on it.
Witch hazel has earned itself a pretty bad reputation over the years. The reason for this is those witch hazel products were typically distilled and formulated using denatured alcohol (ethanol). Resulting in horrifically harsh formulas more suited to disinfecting wounds than toning your face!
In skincare, there are 'good' alcohols and 'bad' alcohols. Denatured alcohol, also known as alcohol denat., or ethanol, is a bad one. Especially in high quantities.
Unfortunately, these formulas made it difficult to get the full benefits of witch hazel without drying out and damaging your skin. Hence the bad rep...
*This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning, I get a commission if you purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Read our full disclosure here.
However, these days you can find alcohol-free witch hazel products. And some, like Thayer's Natural Remedies, even include natural, hydrating ingredients like Aloe Vera.
If like me you kept your witch hazel at the back of the medicine cabinet, then allow me to reintroduce you to this amazing ingredient with its seemingly endless skin benefits.
WHAT IS WITCH HAZEL?
Witch hazel is the active extract of the flowering Hamamelis virginiana plant. Once harvested, the bark and leaves are distilled to bring out the active chemical compounds of the plant.
These active compounds are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals —"phyto" means "plant". The ones found in witch hazel are;
There are many different types of phytochemicals found in plant life that can be highly beneficial for your health because they contain some (or all) of the following properties:
Studies have shown certain phytochemicals to be extremely helpful in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease and aging. A great way of getting your daily dose of phytochemicals is through your diet. They are particularly abundant in colorful fruits and vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, grains, and beans.
DOES WITCH HAZEL HELP OILY SKIN?
Yes! The benefits of Witch hazel for the face add up to a trifecta of skin perks that tighten skin/refine pores, reduce inflammation, and treat acne.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent, meaning it's a constricting compound that draws the proteins inside the skin cells together. This has a skin tightening effect, that minimizing pores making them appear smaller. This is especially beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin types.
Antioxidants are like superman for your cells. They basically protect them by destroying pesky free-radicals that cause oxidative stress to your body.
Oxidative stress, a process caused by free radicals directly damages your skin's DNA which results in accelerated aging. This damage appears as premature wrinkles, sagging, pigmentation marks, uneven skin tone, and dull skin. Over time, the effects of free radical damage often grow more and more noticeable.
Anti-Inflammatory + Antimicrobial
As a natural cleanser witch hazel can purify the skin making it a very effective acne treatment. It is capable of reducing and preventing bacteria growth on the skin, speeding up the healing time for infections and scabs, reducing inflammation, and decreasing redness.
Thayer's Witch Hazel Facial Toner
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
I'm a huge fan of Thayers Witch Hazel Facial Toners. Thayer's is literally the O.G. of witch hazel. Henry Thayer M.D. was the son of a physician and one of the founding families in Massachusetts. He opened a laboratory on Maine Street, Cambridge in 1847 and initially sold his newly developed line of herbal extracts exclusively to medical professionals.
Thayers began using Certified Organic Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera in 2012. In 2013, they entered into an exclusive agreement with a family farm in Fairfield County, Connecticut to grow Thayers Certified Organic Witch Hazel to be used in their proprietary extract.
Thayer's Facial Mists come in Rose Petal, Coconut water, Lavender, Cucumber, and also unscented. They are all naturally fragranced and formulated with Aloe Vera to prevent the toner from being too drying. The Rose Petal toner is a permanent fixture in my beauty cabinet.
Because they are water-based, these toners contain a preservative called phenoxyethanol which is considered safer than other preservatives like parabens.
BENEFITS OF WITCH HAZEL FOR DRY SKIN
Can you use a witch hazel toner if you don't have oily? Absolutely! I've been using Thayers for years. But, —and this is big but, witch hazel can be very drying for the skin. So it's important to choose a toner that contains moisturizing ingredients. Look for products that also contain hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or aloe vera.
I use Thayers Witch Hazel toner to help balance my skin's pH levels after cleansing my face. Especially if I use water. It leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean, but not stripped and dry!
Just soak a cotton pad and lightly wipe your face and neck to remove makeup and cleanser residue.
Need Skincare Help?
I make sense of skincare. Together we create better routines and lifestyle habits to empower you to feel more confident and in charge. I want everyone to be able to have a Skin Coach in their life, which is why I’ve designed 3 Skin Coaching Plans to fit any budget.