Howdy! We are back with some more helpful tips on natural skincare and specifically Witch Hazel.
What is Witch Hazel? It is actually the name of a shrub native to North America, the technical name being Hamamelis virginiana. Witch hazel is a flowering shrub with somewhat scraggly looking flowers. The plant extract was used for medicinal purposes by the American Indians and is now used in many skincare and healthcare products.
Witch hazel as we know it today and which we find in many products is a clear liquid that is distilled from dried leaves, bark, and twigs of the shrub.
Witch hazel is used externally on sores, bruises, insect bites, poison ivy, swelling and is often used as a natural remedy for psoriasis and eczema. However it is also a fantastic addition to some skincare products. It is an ingredient you will find in any good aftershave and facial toner among other ingredients.
WHAT DO YOU USE WITCH HAZEL FOR?
NATURAL ASTRINGENT CLEANSING: One of the most common uses for witch hazel is as an astringent. It has the ability to remove excess oil, dirt and residue from skin and shrinks pores. Regular use of witch hazel on your face and skin (don’t forget decollete and behind ears) helps keep blackheads and blemishes from forming. It is used by simply applying it to a cotton ball or pad and swiped across the skin. It will leave the skin fresh and nicely pH balanced.
PUFFY EYES: This is yet another common use for witch hazel. Because witch hazel has the ability to tighten skin and reduce inflammation, it is a great solution for tackling the under eye area. Applied by spraying a small amount around the eyes (not to be gotten in the eyes) or applying with a cotton ball or pad, will likely result in reduced puffiness and a tighter, firmer look.
MAKEUP REMOVAL: Oh yes! You will likely never go back to toxic mineral oil based make up removers again. Not only does witch hazel not leave an oily layer on your skin once it has removed the make up (or smeared it around your face), it removes make up much more effectively. Oil based and water based makeup alike are removed in a swipe with witch hazel applied to a cotton pad.
ACNE: While we would never state that acne will go away by using witch hazel as there are many other factors involved in acne, it is a definite benefit. Why? Because witch hazel has amazing anti-bacterial benefits. So simply applying it a few times a day will help prevent the build up of bacteria on your skin and swipe away dirt and oil that could otherwise turn into black and white heads.
SHRINKING PORES: Some of us are in the less lucky bunch and genetically have larger and more visible pores. Not the most terrible problem to have, but also not always the most attractive. Witch hazel reduces the size of pores. So whether male or female, spritz some on your face prior to applying moisturizer or makeup for less visible pores.
AFTERSHAVE: Witch hazel is an ingredient listed in many quality aftershave products. Why? well, after you shave your skin and pores are extremely vulnerable. Your skin has just been shaved and you have likely removed some skin along the way. Your pores are generally open from your shaving preparation (beard lifting products or shaving cream) and once you are done shaving witch hazel can be used to remove any residue from products used and then to tighten your pores back up.
POST WAXING or HAIR REMOVAL: Similar to shaving, waxing and tweezing can be harsh on the skin, leaving it red, inflamed and irritated. Apply witch hazel (by spraying or cotton pads) to the area where hair was removed to soothe the skin and reduce redness.
SUN BURNS OR MINOR BURNS: Whether you forgot to apply your sunscreen or touched something a little too hot, a great remedy is always some aloe vera mixed with witch hazel. The anti-inflammatory qualities of the witch hazel will help soothe and heal the skin while the aloe vera cools the burn.
DIAPER RASH or OTHER RASH: A less known use for witch hazel is the application of it to rashes in order to smooth the skin. Spritz the skin with a witch hazel product to sooth the burn and reduce the inflammation. We then recommend the application of a zinc oxide based cream or argan oil to heal the rash itself. Some rash will require a more agressive anti-fungal cream (such as yeast infections). Use this procedure as often as necessary until the rash has healed.
HEMORRHOIDS: Not a pretty subject. We know, and is why we put this last on the list. But unfortunately not too uncommon, especially with women right after childbirth. A common product used for hemorrhoids is called Tucks. They sell pads for the treatment and soothing of hemorrhoids and these contain 50% witch hazel, which is also the only active ingredient. Why do they use so much witch hazel? Well, because of its soothing, anti-inflammatory and pH balancing effects. Note: We do not recommend the use of Tucks as they do contain parabens and other toxic ingredients.
So there you go. Don’t forget the many other uses of witch hazel, including applying it to scrapes, cuts and bruises. And please, when selecting a witch hazel based product, ensure that it does not contain alcohol due to its drying effect (with the exception of cetearyl alcohol – a fatty alcohol which is moisturizing).
We have included links to products we are familiar with and have verified the ingredients are natural and safe. Until next time…
Inspire Beauty, Naturally!