Some of my friends swear by Thayer’s With Hazel-infused toners, while others say Witch Hazel is disastrous for your skin.
Well, which is it?
I must say, though, the name itself is intriguing. A couple of months ago, if I saw a product had “Witch Hazel” written on it, I’d probably buy it without a second thought just because the name sounds fancy. I’m not like that anymore, but I still think Witch Hazel sounds cool.
Anyway, here’s what I’ll talk about today:
- The Background of Witch Hazel
- How Does Witch Hazel Affect Your Skin?
- Like, Comment, Subscribe!
The Background of Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel, also known as Snapping Hazel, is a deciduous tree or shrub that is native to North America. It’s yellow flowers usually bloom in late September or October.
The “witch” derives from an Anglo-Saxon word wych meaning “flexible”. Native Americans would use Witch Hazel for more than its medicinal properties, but also to make bows. Also, early, superstitious American settlers would use Witch Hazel for water witching (a process of using Earth’s resources for finding sources of water underground).
Witch Hazel has always been known for its medicinal properties and, often, Witch Hazel is a common astringent families keep to apply onto scrapes or burns to help soothe the skin. Native Americans would apply the bark and make a paste from Witch Hazel to reduce swelling and inflammation. It can also be used for the treatment of hemorrhoids, dysentry, burns, sores, etc.
How Does Witch Hazel Affect Your Skin?
Witch Hazel is good for:
- Pore minimizing (short term)
- Dries out pimples and blemishes (only some research suggests this)
- Reduces oil production (short term)
- Has many antioxidants and antiviral properties
- Good as topical for:
- Bug bites
- Minor burns
- Diaper rash
- Poison ivy/rashes
Notice how most of those are all short term benefits!
Witch Hazel is identified as an astringent because of its tonnins. The tonnins are chemicals that pulls the protein fibers in the skin together, giving the effect of minimized pores. Because of the tightened skin, less sebum is able to surface as well. Before Witch Hazel is added to skincare products, it is prepared with denatured alcohol (ethanol) to rid of most tonnins. This alcohol is extrememly drying for our skin, therefore making it seem like there is less oil on our face. But, over-dried skin forces your skin to produce more sebum in hopes of protecting itself, making your oily-skin problem worse over time or, in general, you will have very dry skin.
Besides impairing the skin’s surface over time, some research claims that though Witch Hazel may reduce surface inflammation, but causes more irriation and blemishes under the surface skin.
According to Paula’s Choice, using Witch Hazel will over time, result in weak and dry surface layer skin. But complete stop of Witch Hazel isn’t necessary as it is good for occasional use for small cuts, brusies, etc (look above at list of benefits).
So… How Should We Use Witch Hazel?
I would reccommend having just a small jar of its extract so you can use a little whenever you need it.
Toners are usually the most common With Hazel-infused product. These toners do its job well: it minimizes pores and provides antioxidants for your skin. Again, though, all of these are just short term effects.
Don’t use Witch Hazel as a makeup remover/cleanser. It is not oil based nor meant to cleanse so it won’t properly remove all makeup and impurities from your skin.
Overall, Witch Hazel should be used only occasionally since it’s long term effects don’t make a happy ending! While it does reduce inflammation and makes for a great internal tonic, it dries out your skin and has harmful chemicals and alcohol. Some products– like Thayer’s Alcohol-free Witch Hazel Toner— don’t include alcohol. If you decide you want to try Witch Hazel, I would reccommend you go for those!
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Love, Moe ❤