Witch hazel has been a principal skincare ingredient since Queen Victoria was on the throne. Thayer launched its famous witch hazel toner in 1847, and since then, skincare devotees young and old have been using the botanical ingredient in their routines to stop oil and prevent acne.

For a while, though, the ingredient fell somewhat out of fashion due to its potentially drying and sometimes irritating effects when overused.


Witch hazel, a botanical extract derived from a flowering plant, has been added to preparations throughout the years. The witch hazel plant, Latin name Hamamelis Virginiana, grows wild throughout large areas of North America and Asia. Its leaves and bark have been used for ages. Witch hazel is a natural astringent and thus is often used to remove excess sebum and temporarily constrict pores due to its tannin content.

The latest witch-hazel formulas have become far more elegant since we all tone our skins. In SOMATOLOGY / HEALTH AND SKINCARE / BEAUTY AND NAIL TECHNOLOGY / AESTHETICS / COSMETOLOGY it is recommended to seek out ingredient lists that combine witch hazel with ingredients that moisturize and support the skin barrier, for example, lavender.


Is witch hazel good for the skin?

In SOMATOLOGY / HEALTH AND SKINCARE / BEAUTY AND NAIL TECHNOLOGY / AESTHETICS / COSMETOLOGY we are taught that witch hazel has both good and bad properties for the skin. While some of its antioxidant components are beneficial, specific tannins are sensitizing and present in higher amounts than many other plants. Witch hazel naturally contains between 8% and 12% skin-constricting tannins, depending on which part of the plant is used in the formulation.

Witch hazel has anti-inflammatory properties and can soothe some forms of irritation, but only for short-term use.

In addition to tannins, most types of witch hazel are distilled using denatured alcohol (ethanol), with the final extract for use on the skin containing about 14% to 15% alcohol. The distillation process destroys some of the tannins. Applying this kind of alcohol to your skin is always a bad thing because it generates free-radical damage and impairs the skin’s surface.

Is there an alcohol-free witch hazel?

Alcohol-free witch hazel can be achieved through the water-steam distillation of the recently cut and partially dried dormant twig and bark portion of the plant, but it comes with a trade-off. The downside is that you don’t get the complete spectrum of beneficial compounds that you would from alcohol-distilled versions of witch hazel. Simply put, the effort to minimize irritancy results in compromising efficacy.

Another concern related to the long-term use of witch hazel relates to its volatile fragrant compounds that have sensitive, barrier-weakening repercussions for the skin.

Witch hazel benefits

Keeping a bottle of witch hazel around the house for occasional home remedy is recommended as it may reduce visible symptoms and skin discomfort from Bug bites and stings and Bruises.

Other benefits include:

Tightens pores – Witch hazel contains a high amount of constricting compounds that make the proteins inside skin cells come together. As a result, it temporarily makes your pores appear smaller.

Reduces inflammation – The natural tannins in witch hazel may temporarily calm the appearance of red, irritated, or blotchy skin.

Fights acne – The antimicrobial properties of tannins can reduce bacteria growth on the skin. This will reduce the number of Acne bacteria, lessening the number of Acne lesions.

Soothes puffy eyes – Due to its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, witch hazel could reduce puffiness and soothe the under-eye area while providing a tightening effect.

Improves skin tone – As witch hazel’s various properties refine the appearance of pores, reduce inflammation, and tighten the skin, it adds up to an even skin tone.

In conclusion, keep your eyes on the SOMATOLOGY / HEALTH AND SKINCARE / BEAUTY AND NAIL TECHNOLOGY / AESTHETICS / COSMETOLOGY treatments and products for Witch Hazel, the original Royal Treatment.

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