Ingredient of the Week: Witch Hazel
Just in time for Halloween, our ingredient of the week is witch hazel. This plant has so many beneficial properties not only for the skin but for general health as well. Native to North America, witch hazel is a member of the Hamamelidaceae plant family. For centuries, the leaves and bark from this plant have been used to make skin astringents that naturally reduce skin conditions such as acne, bug bites, poison ivy and many other conditions that cause inflammation.
Witch hazel’s most popular use is on the skin due to its antioxidant and astringent properties. These properties give witch hazel high levels of active ingredients that help reduce signs of cellular damage, swelling, and inflammation while soothing wounds at the same time. The active constituents extracted from the leaves, bark, and twigs of this plant contain polyphenols and tannins which give witch hazel its beneficial properties. They are then added to either water or alcohol to make astringents. The extract can be used as a topical treatment to remove excess oil, soothe skin conditions or it can be ingested to ease symptoms of diarrhea, colds, vomiting, coughing or the flu. Before ingesting witch hazel, always make sure the bottle states that it is safe for consumption.
In conclusion, the types of ingredients we apply topically to our skin are just as important as the ingredients we consume since the skin is highly absorbent. For this reason, it is best to avoid as many chemicals as possible. The benefits of witch hazel exceed other skin astringents due to the fact that it is completely natural, and free of irritating ingredients and fake fragrances.