What’s so great about Witch Hazel?

I am sure you have heard of witch hazel before, maybe even have it in your cabinet. Maybe you use if for the occasional skinned knee, or as a skin toner. Many know a few uses for witch hazel, but probably don’t know just how amazing witch hazel is for the skin.

Witch hazel was discovered many centuries ago by the Native Americans, it was valued for its amazing medicinal properties and was used not only for outside skin ailments, but was also taken as a tea for internal applications. For this they used the leaves and bark to boil and make a tea. A distillate is made for external uses, and is made by steaming the bark and leaves and collecting that steam, which is by definition a water. Because it is a water, it must be preserved, and this is done three ways; with grain alcohol, parabens, or benzoic acid. The most natural way to preserve is with the benzoic acid, a mild food grade preservative. The majority of witch hazel products on commercially available are preserved with alcohol. Alcohol can be drying to the skin, so I recommend a gentle version of witch hazel when using it on the skin.

So, what are some of the great things you can do with an alcohol-free witch hazel? One of the most common uses, is a skin toner. This is great for removing makeup, dirt and oils. Controls oil production, tightens and tones pores. It is great for sensitive or oily skin and because it is hypoallergenic there are no side effects, and reactions are very uncommon. Another use is for the relief of hemorrhoids, helps to cool and reduce inflammation. Varicose veins, common as we age and during pregnancy. Just soak a cloth in witch hazel and apply with legs up, do the same with bruises and sprains to reduce swelling. It helps to relieve the pain and inflammation. It is great for drying up poison ivy, oak and sumac, and relieves the itching. Insect bites, acne, diaper rash, preventing infection in cracked feet, sunburn relief (cools and soothes), reduces under eye bags, soothes teething pain if you rub on gums, aftershave, homemade mouthwashes and skin abrasions, minor wounds and cuts.

This may surprise you that there are so many things that witch hazel can do. What makes this so effective is the tannins found in the bark of the witch hazel tree. Many skin care products have witch hazel as an ingredient and you get a minor amount of benefit from the actual witch hazel. There is no need in diluting the effectiveness, so look for a pure distillate to maximize your money out of pocket on useless filler ingredients. With this long list of uses, you should never be without a bottle in your medicine cabinet or first aid kit.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jessica on December 18, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    I’m having a hard time telling if your witch hazel comes in a plastic or glass bottle. Which is it?

    Thanks!

    Reply

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