Today, in America, it is #NationalWitchHazelDay! We are not sure of the day's origins, however, the benefits of witch hazel and its uses across a variety of skincare remedies have been known for quite some time. Since the late 1800s, distilled Witch Hazel Extracts have been formulated into many of the world’s most recognized cosmetic and over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical products for skincare, haircare, and eye care.
What is Witch Hazel?
“Witch hazel is a tree-like plant indigenous to North America and parts of Asia,” says Dr. Schlessinger. “Products that offer benefits from witch hazel generally contain witch hazel extract derived from either the bark or leaves of the plant.” Once it’s harvested, the bark and leaves are distilled to bring out the active chemical compounds of the plant.
Although a popular remedy for many skin conditions, witch hazel like other natural health remedies does not have much scientifically backed research to confirm its effectiveness. However, many skin and hair care manufacturers already use this inexpensive extract in a variety of products (such as facial toners, astringents, personal cleansing products, shampoo, etc.) and can provide a number of benefits.
Benefits of Witch Hazel
Some benefits found in the use of witch hazel range from cleansing the skin of dirt, excess oil, and residue, tightening pores for smoother skin, helping to control excess oil production, and reducing irritation.
Depending on the product used, witch hazel found in astringents, skin toners, and cleansers help surface tissues to contract, reduces irritation, removes impurities, refines pores and balances complexion, reduces oil, and soothes redness. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel may reduce puffiness and soothe the under-eye area and inflammation.
Other benefits can include, soothing razor burns, treating minor cuts and scrapes, and reducing irritation from bug bites.
According to Prevention.com, the polyphenols witch hazel contains may help fight premature aging: “Theoretically, witch hazel may have antioxidant effects that help mitigate and prevent free radical damage to skin from UV [rays] and oxidizing air pollution,” says Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD. Plus, its astringent properties can make your skin look firmer.
Routine Use & Its Risks
As with any natural or pharmaceutical product, moderation is key. Using too much witch hazel in your skincare routine can have adverse effects, such as dry and damaged skin. Some individuals may have allergic reactions to the plant and it is generally not used to treat certain skin conditions, such as rosacea.
If you do choose to give witch hazel a try, speak to your doctor or dermatologist for options.
When using the plant's extract directly, perhaps begin slowly by applying it as a toner for your skin. This is achieved after washing and cleansing your face and applying a small amount on a cotton pad and applying it to your face. When using products that contain witch hazel as an active ingredient, always follow the manufacturer's label.
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