Witch hazel, also known as hamamelia virginiana, is an astringent, cooling and refreshing herb. It is mainly used in the form of an infusion or herbal water or toner. The herb is found abundantly in the woodland areas of the Northeastern United States and is characterized by delicate golden flowers with seed capsules that burst open in autumn. The entire plant is extremely useful; the bark, twigs, leaves and flowers all contain medicinal properties. Native Indians recognized the value of this herb and were known to use it extensively for treating all kinds of skin irritations. It was only much later in the 19th century that missionaries began manufacturing witch hazel extracts commercially.
Today, you can buy witch hazel extracts in the form of astringents, herbal water, gels, mouthwashes, hair tonics and toners. The antioxidant phenols and tannins in the herb are extremely beneficial for healing, protecting and calming wounds, sores and bruises.
Let us take a look at ways in which this herb is beneficial in body care.
Witch hazel has many medicinal benefits which are useful in almost every aspect of body care. Here are the main ones:
If you have oily skin, chances are you are prone to acne and blackheads. Using witch hazel regularly can combat this oiliness. The astringent properties of witch hazel stops excess sebum production and helps to balance the skin from hormonal changes. Witch hazel can also cleanse hair follicles and skin pores to prevent acne breakouts, blackheads and whiteheads. You can combat spots and acne blemishes left behind by past breakouts using toners with witch hazel, as well. Regular use of this herb can benefit oily skin sufferers tremendously.
Since ages ago, witch hazel has been used for treating all kinds of skin problems including cuts, scrapes, nicks, shaving issues like ingrown hairs and razor bumps, burns, scabies, insect bites and stings, blisters, rosacea, eczema, and also rashes caused by contact dermatitis, etc. You can use it directly on the skin to soothe, heal an protect the skin.
People who suffer from varicose veins or painful and swollen piles or hemorrhoids can also benefit greatly from witch hazel. This is mainly due to the astringent properties of this herb, that help in shrinking veins and soothing pain and irritation. By regularly applying the tonic or toner onto the painful areas, several times a day, you should notice pain relief and heal the issues quickly.
Witch hazel is extremely effective in healing cuts, scrapes, wounds and bruises, thanks to its mild antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. Apply the extract directly onto bruised skin to immediately stop pain and swelling and prevent pus and infection. Not only does it disinfect wounds, but it also stems bleeding quickly. This makes it a wonderful remedy for washing cuts, open wounds, insect bites, etc.
As mentioned above, you can use witch hazel post shaving to soothe, heal, disinfect and protect irritated skin. When applied after shaving, the extracts can prevent ingrown hair and razor bumps. It can also calm irritated skin and heal shaving nicks and cuts. So forget expensive aftershave lotions- go for witch hazel extracts to soothe the skin instead!
Had a long day at work? Use witch hazel to soothe and calm them. Apply some toner or herbal water containing this astringent herb on soft cotton pads and press them gently over closed eyes. Relax in this manner for 10-15 minutes, and afterward your eyes will look fresh without the tired, baggy and puffy eyed look.
Yes, witch hazel extracts are beneficial in hair care as well and are particularly suited for oily hair. The cleansing and astringent properties of witch hazel leave the amino acids and natural oils intact while conditioning the scalp and stimulating the hair follicles for growth. Since most witch hazel contains 15% alcohol, people with dry hair should use the variety of witch hazel without.
If you want to avoid alcohol based mouthwashes, try rinsing your mouth with witch hazel instead. In past times, its herbal infusion was even used for cleaning baby’s gums. Witch hazel is antiseptic and astringent, which helps prevent tooth decay, dental caries or cavities, gum problems, etc.
Homemade witch hazel extracts are much stronger and potent than most store bought versions. The latter usually are greatly watered down or contain isopropyl alcohol. Here is an easy recipe to make witch hazel extracts at home:
• 18 tbsp crushed fresh bark of witch hazel (or 8 tbsp dried crushed bark)
• 2 cups of 80-proof vodka
In a quart canning jar, place witch hazel and cover it completely with the vodka. Place the jar in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks. The longer it stores, the stronger the extract will be. Shake every once in a while. Strain and store in a clean, dry container away from heat and light. This recipe yields approximately 1 ½ cups of witch hazel extracts and lasts for a long time.
Our products that contain witch hazel extract:
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