The all-natural trend is sticking, with witch hazel seeing a rise in interest recently. Pinterest reported a 305 percent increase in searches. This old-school toner is working its way into skin-care products in new and innovative ways, and we’re totally here for its healing powers when it comes to treating redness, acne and irritated skin.
Witch hazel is an oldie but goodie, but people might still have some misconceptions about it. First of all, witch hazel is not an essential oil although it’s processed in the same manner. Witch hazel is the liquid extracted from the leaves and bark of the Hamamelis virginiana plant, according to Heather Wilson, the director of brand development at InstaNatural and a licensed esthetician. “Witch hazel distillate,” as it’s commonly listed on beauty product ingredient lists, is typically made through a steam distillation process where the viable plant materials are vaporized with hot steam then cooled before being condensed into liquid form, according to Megan Lind, Fourth Ray‘s product development manager.
Witch hazel is typically associated with toners thanks to its astringent properties. It can also appear in cleansers, serums, moisturizers and even body and hair products. Kim and Zoe Roebuck, co-founders of Dr Roebuck’s, explain that witch hazel contains chemicals called tannins and polyphenols. These properties make witch hazel a pro at tackling a number of skin issues, including swelling, bacteria and itchiness and redness. The effective ingredient can manage excess oil, clear breakouts and minimize the appearance of pores without stripping skin, says Wilson.
Witch hazel doesn’t just make your skin look more vibrant, it can also act as an astringent, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, says Tara Pelletier, co-founder of Meow Meow Tweet. “I love it as an aftershave or skin-soother after waxing my bikini line,” she reveals. “[Witch hazel is] also great in your natural first aid kit for things like sunburns, cold sores and bug bites.”
Given its characteristics, witch hazel is well suited to those with oily and acne-prone skin, but all skin types could benefit from the right formula. Just watch out for products with alcohol, says Pelletier, because they will dry out skin.