Witch Hazel

About Witch Hazel Extract

The witch hazel plant, from which witch hazel extract it derived, is a small shrub that is indigenous to North America and grows naturally across Canada and the USA. Native Americans have long used witch hazel extract for medicinal purposes. By boiling the stem of the shrub, they produced a decoction used to treat swelling, inflammation and tumors.  

How It Works

The leaves and bark from the witch hazel plant are high in tannins, a natural astringent, that can dry and tighten skin tissue, tighten pores and remove excess oil. Its ability to fight bacteria further helps maintain clear skin. Rich in antioxidants (thanks to the tannins), witch hazel can limit the production of free radicals, which are known to damage the skin. Combined, these properties work to give your skin a youthful looking glow.

Witch hazel’s astringent, anti-irritant, and surface numbing properties allow it to pull the irritation out of insect bites, sunburns, sore muscles, and more. With soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, it has long been used to reduce swelling and help repair broken skin.  

Common Concerns

People often use distilled witch hazel extract as a toner to help manage acne and large pores. However, when witch hazel extract is used regularly in this form, some people may develop skin irritations. This is because the high concentration of tannins, which give it astringent properties, combined with the alcohol that is commonly used to produce the over-the-counter products, constricts blood flow to the skin. However, when its purer form is combined with other products, such as our skin gel, these concerns don’t apply.

Quick Facts

Binomial Name: Hamamelis virginiana
Common Name: Witch Hazel Extract
Source: Witch Hazel Shrub
EWG Score: 1

Proven and Potential Uses

Cosmetic

Tighten pores Remove excess oils

Medicinal

Eczema Psoriasis Dermatitis Ease minor pains Itching and skin inflammation Stop or reduce minor bleeding Soothe various skin irritations  Hemorrhoids

Sources

Steven Foster, Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, Article and Photos, Steven Foster Group], retrieved April 14, 2012 Anthony C. Dweck, Ethnobotanical Use of Plants, Part 4: The American Continent.
Witch Hazel Overview Information, WebMD, accessed April 14, 2012
Witch Hazel, Paula’s Choice accessed May 10, 2015
Information contained in this website is intended for educational purposes only and is no way intended for diagnosis. The Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada have not evaluated this information. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For health problems, please refer to a qualified health practitioner.

Gallery

  • Witch Hazel
  • Hamamelis or witch hazel in bloom in the Netherlands.

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