Defined as an astringent product (something that tightens or constricts the skin), it’s produced from the bark and leaves of the Witch Hazel shrub (Hamamelis virginiana) which grows naturally in Canada (Nova Scotia) and parts of the US.
HOW THE OIL IS MADE.
The Witch Hazel extract is obtained by steaming the twigs.
It is important to note that the shrub’s essential oil isn’t sold separately – mainly down to the fact that it doesn’t produce enough oil to warrant commercial production.
However, there are a number of Witch Hazel distillates i.e. hydrolats or hydrosols that are available as commercial products. These distillates are gentler than typical extract sold in chemists. Note – the distillates also contain alcohol.
USES OF WITCH HAZEL
Those wise old native American Indians have been using this natural medicinal plant for centuries before the wider world became familiar with its attributes.
Here’s our rundown on exactly why it’s so popular:
1) Spot and blemish control
Bad news for pimples! Witch Hazel has long been used and is proven to reduce inflammation, it is the main active ingredient in CosMedix Clarity Anti-Blemish Serum. According to numerous research studies, using it daily can also reduce acne. Indeed, many acne treatments on the market today contain the product too.
2) It’s great for nappy rash!
Apply the extract on the affected areas using a cotton ball. Dilute it with at least equal parts water before application.
3)Tired Eyes/Eye Bags can be reduced.
It’s not a major cosmetic issue, but one most people are familiar with, that of tired-looking ‘bags’. It is proven to tighten up the skin, when rubbed gently below the eyes.
Use also as a good remedy to refresh the eyes. But don’t apply directly!!!! Instead, soak a clean cloth in a solution of cold water and witch hazel extract and then place the cloth over your (closed) eyes. After approximately 10 minutes, the tired, redness should be gone. Great after an extended crying session!
4) Soothing And Reducing External Hemorrhoids
A perfect anti-itch remedy. Combine it with glycerine and aloe, or just petroleum jelly, then rub on external hemorrhoids, and you’ll feel a significant reduction in the itching. It can also stem bleeding too.
5) Use to relieve varicose vein pain
Witch Hazel is also a good remedy for varicose vein pain and discomfort. Just soak a cloth in a solution of warm water and witch hazel extract and lay it on the affected site. This will instantly reduce swelling and pain by tightening the veins.
6) Use When Camping to Treat Poison Ivy & Poison Oak
This is another notable skin benefit. On top of controlling spots and blemishes, witch hazel also relieves swelling and reduces itching caused by poison ivy and poison oak.
7) Heal Bruises Faster
Simply rub on to bruise to hasten healing time.
8) Prevent and Heal Shaving Rash
Familiar with those itchy bumps around irritated hair follicles after shaving? To prevent and heal razor burn, apply a few minutes before and after shaving.
9) Treat And Sooth Sunburn
Witch hazel is popular for healing damaged skin however, it is also effective for treating skin inflammation as is the case with sunburn. When used to treat sunburn, witch hazel reduces healing time and prevents skin flaking and peeling.
10) Treat Dry Skin
Witch hazel is also used by individuals with dry skin to reduce skin flaking and peeling. Applying immediately after showering helps to lock in the moisture treating dry skin.
11) Heal and Soothe Skin Cuts And Bruises
Applying a dab of witch hazel cleanses cuts and protects against infection. It also promotes quicker healing.
12) Treat Insect Bites
Apply a dab to the affected area – it’s has been proven to treat bites in record time.
Some of the main ingredients of witch hazel include; gallic acid, tannin, catechins, flavonoids (i.e. kaempferol and quercetin), proanthocyanins, essential oil (i.e. carvacrol, eugenol and hexenol), saponins, bitters and choline. Having defined witch hazel and briefly stated the plant’s main uses and ingredients, let’s shift our focus to looking at witch hazel uses at home in more detail.