You’d be hard-pressed not to meet a mother or grandmother who hasn’t at least heard of or praised the benefits of witch hazel. “Botanical beauty” has been a skincare mainstay for decades for almost any skin concern.
So what’s the hype behind the witch hazel that still reigns supreme? We’ve heard that this classic natural ingredient really treats our skin. But we need all the details on the benefits of witch hazel.
Let’s take a closer look at this timeless ingredient to see where and how it could improve our skincare routines. We’ll also share growing tips and DIY recipes for your own witch hazel plant and toning spray.
What exactly Is the witch hazel plant?
Witch hazel, also called winter flower, is a small flowering tree or tall shrub with soft yellow petals resembling fringes. As the name suggests, these trees could be seen blooming in the dead of winter, even in freezing conditions. It’s a sure sign of a powerful plant with medicinal or healing properties – or maybe even a mystery.
Is the unassuming clear liquid approved by witches or does it have concrete historical traces? It turns out that Native Americans as well as people all over the world have used witch hazel throughout history. They used it with oral and topical applications for digestive issues as well as inflamed skin.
The signature yellow flowers are not a component typically used to create extracts or essences. The leaves, branches, and bark of the witch hazel plant are typically distilled to create the witch hazel astringent we know best. We love its soothing, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
What are the benefits of witch hazel for the skin?
We know witch hazel has limitless benefits for the skin, as evidenced by decades of recorded botanical use. We encourage witch hazel because it is more effective at removing oil from the skin without stripping it like conventional toners and astringents do.
And the skin benefits of witch hazel don’t stop there! Here are some of the main reasons we’re obsessed with this super-lollipop botanical ingredient.
Witch hazel contains several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, including gallic acid and tannins. Thanks to this and its anti-inflammatory powers, witch hazel can reduce bothersome redness, soothe the skin and treat sunburn.
Speaking of soothing the skin, pick up a tea tree clear complexion cleanser for a soothing wash that will remove impurities for a refreshed complexion.
#2: Tighten pores
Natural astringent formulas that contain this superstar ingredient can also help minimize the appearance of pores – a win-win! Another aspect of using witch hazel is knowing that it is a clarifying ingredient.
This is precisely why our Tea Tree & Willow Clarifying Astringent is a fan favorite! This anti-inflammatory tonic nourishes, hydrates, softens and purifies. Plus, it accomplishes all of this without stripping, dehydrating, or irritating the skin.
For those with breakouts caused by random skin irritation, enlarged pores, excess oil, acne, or all of the above, witch hazel has excellent antiseptic properties.
For those with a spot here or there, or perhaps an oily T-zone, our Concentrated Witch Hazel Tea Tree Spot Treatment can neutralize excess oil just where we need it.
#4: Firming properties
Since witch hazel contains tannins, which are chemicals that compress proteins in your skin, applying it to the skin also gives a temporary tightening sensation.
Witch hazel has been promoted as a natural anti-aging product. Thanks to natural tannins, it can help reduce free radicals and signs of aging due to UV exposure.
How to Keep a Witch Hazel Plant at Home
Ready to try your green thumb? It’s easier than you think to grow your own witch hazel – no witchcraft, spells or potions required. Here’s how you can grow this magical plant indoors:
Obtain a big container
You can start a witch hazel bush outdoors, but it will grow much better as a houseplant. Then you can transfer it outside so it can grow more. You will need a container about 16 inches in diameter and 16 inches deep.
Give it some sun
If it’s hot outside, place the container in a place where it can receive some sunlight. But when witch hazel really shines is during the winter months.
PRO TIP: Your witch hazel plant will bloom in fall and winter, adding a colorful hue to the dark, dreary colors of winter. That’s a (green) thumbs up!
Be sure to test the potting soil daily and water when the top 2 inches become dry. Be sure to give it water until everything drains to the bottom of the pot where the roots are.
Once a month during the spring and summer months (growing seasons), add water-soluble plant food (aka fertilizer) for extra nutrients.
Prune your witch hazel just after it blooms in late winter or early spring. This will help maintain a clean shape and encourage flowering.
How to make your own witch hazel toning spray
Conventional toners and astringents contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to your skin and your health. With these factors in mind, why not mix up your own DIY formula?
Here’s one of our favorite DIY witch hazel recipes:
Toning spray with witch hazel + rose water
Rose water helps keep the surface of the skin dewy, healthy and radiant, while helping to reduce oiliness. Meanwhile, hardworking witch hazel reduces excess oil and keeps your skin in balance.
These ingredients are also excellent for acne-prone, oily, and mature skin. This makes this DIY toning spray a solid option for any skin type!
Step 1: prune the witch hazel plant
Trim a few handfuls of twigs and small branches. Next, locate the branch bark ridge (dark, raised area of compressed bark). Make your cut just outside the crest and collar of the bark to allow the tree to heal its wound.
Step 2: Boil the twigs, bark or leaves of the witch hazel plant
Using distilled water, bring the plant parts to a boil. Then simmer for at least half an hour. Refrigerate overnight, then strain into a glass jar.
Step 3: Combine the ingredients
Then mix 1 tablespoon of rose water and 1 ½ cups of water from your witch hazel extraction in a sterilized spray bottle. Shake the ingredients to combine and spray on your face. Store your new toning spray in the refrigerator.
What’s the takeaway? So far, we can say with certainty that the benefits of witch hazel for calming, clarifying, and quenching our largest organ – the skin – make this ingredient a total win in our books. And the benefits aren’t as far reaching as your own witch hazel plant!