Why Witch Hazel Is So Popular for Acne
For acne-prone skin, using a witch hazel toner is becoming the most popular alternative to harsh chemicals
There’s a wide marketplace of products out there advertised to combat your acne. Wading through the pool of information, advertisements, and advice from well-meaning friends can leave you utterly confused. The first thing you can do is stick with gentle plant-based options which won’t strip, burn, or disrupt your skin’s natural healing mechanisms. Next, figure out what works best for your unique skin type. This means experimenting with different combinations of plant based ingredients and combining active fruit acids and plant astringents with cleansing essential oils and soothing hydrosols.
One ultra popular plant based acne buster that you’ll want to try incorporating into your regime is Witch Hazel, which has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to soothe and cleanse the skin. Typically a main ingredient in toner formulas, with hazel is having a serious comeback - and we’re diving into it today.
Where Witch Hazel Comes From
Witch hazel is a compound derived from the leaves and bark of the of Hamamelis virginiana, a type of shrub that’s native to North America. With its rich yellow-orange flowers and glossy leaves, witch hazel plants have been harvested for centuries and used for their medicinal properties for treating wounds and healing infection. They have a variety of health and skin benefits, and can be added to existing formulas to amp up the cleansing and toning properties.
Witch Hazel Benefits for Acne and Other Irritations
Clinical studies show that witch hazel is effective as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent, meaning that its topical application can reduce acne causing bacteria and allow skin to regain healthy bacterial levels. Moreover, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory agent due to the presence of gallic acid and tannins–applied to inflamed, irritated or broken skin, it can provide relief from itching and redness, and take down irritation. It also brings down swelling through restricting capillaries, meaning that it’s an excellent tonic to dab onto live blemishes overnight. And for those suffering from overactive sebaceous glands, witch hazel is an must-have remedy for balancing lipid production: applying a toner that features witch hazel can cut through excess sebum and seal H20 into your pores, for more even toned and non-oily looking skin.
Many have also found success using witch hazel for skin conditions like eczema, dermatis, and psoriasis, thanks to its itch relieving properties and its drying and astringent qualities . Applied to any sort of open or active skin condition, it can take down flaking and dry-up any areas that are weeping or sore. The flavonoids, tannins and other natural chemicals present in the plant help in tightening and constricting damaged skin, increasing healing time significantly. For these reasons, it’s a cult-fave natural solution for razor burn, one of the most irritating (and persistent) everyday skin woes.
Adding Witch Hazel to Your Routine
The most common use of witch hazel you’ll see is as a toner, because its unique properties render is completely ideal for toning oily and acne-prone skin. Its astringency benefits mean that it will remove excess sebum, while at the same time allowing your pores to retain and absorb more H20 and moisture. This means that combination skin types can benefit from witch hazel toner as well: witch hazel doesn’t zap moisture, rather it balances moisture, cutting down shine in oily areas (T zone), and allowing for more moisture retention in dryer areas (cheeks, delicate around the mouth). However, like any astringent product, witch hazel can be drying if it’s over-used, so make sure you’re only applying it in small amounts, and diluting it with a gentle base.
Typically you can find it as a pre-made plant-based formula, or you can DIY it with a few simple ingredients. To make your own, mix one part organic witch hazel extract with one part distilled water, and keep in a glass bottle. You can amp up the formula with other clarifying and toning essential oils, like tea tree oil, bergamot, or rosemary (all of which have powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties).
To use, wet a cotton pad and apply to your face and neck after cleansing. This will remove excess oil and calm your skin, but it’s important to follow this step with a hydrant, as your pores will be prepped for maximum absorption of any following products.
You can also find witch hazel incorporated into plant-based toners. Look for a formula that uses a hydrosol base like rose water, as witch hazel works best when cut with a soothing humectant that will deliver tiny molecules of oil (rose oil has essential fatty acids and powerful antioxidant properties, meaning that it pairs super nicely with the toning qualities of witch hazel).
The takeaway? If you’re suffering from oily skin, blemishes, combination symptoms, or persistent conditions like eczema, dermatis, and psoriasis, witch hazel is an excellent plant-based add on to beat your symptoms.
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