Witch hazel derives from a shrub, hamamelis virginiana; the liquid is extracted from the bark and leaves, then mixed with water and alcohol to create the antiseptic we know today (a substance that delays the growth of microorganisms). Witch hazel is commonly used for inflammations and bruises, as an astringent. Even though it has been proven safe to use witch hazel on the skin, depending on your skin type it may not work for you.
Witch hazel should NEVER be used to take off makeup. Oil-based cleansers and balms are more effective. However, witch hazel can be used to tone the face and remove natural oils that your skin produces. According to Dr. Dray, a practicing board-certified dermatologist, witch hazel mainly contains 13% to 14% of alcohol, therefore, it can be used to degrease the skin because it is very drying. This is great news for individuals with oily skin, however, Dr. Dray warns if you have oily skin and acne, this could be one of the worse things you can do for your skin. Attempting to dry out your acne can destroy the natural barrier of your skin, which can trigger an inflammatory response that can worsen your acne.
Commonly, witch hazel is naturally not a pleasant smell, therefore, companies will opt to add fragrance into their witch hazel skincare products. The use of fragrance is a sensitizing ingredient, this means it can possibly make you vulnerable to allergies to other ingredients even if the fragrance used is natural or synthetic.
Some skincare enthusiasts and beauty lovers worldwide have sworn by using witch hazel as a toner. Here are some skincare benefits they claim witch hazel has done for their skin:
Protects against skin damage
Fights off inflammation of the skin
Can prevent skin irritation
Helps repair any broken skin
Removes dark spots
It is unclear how the claims made were tested, however, some things listed conflicts on what Dr. Dray mentions and her findings. Check out her video to determine if using witch hazel as a toner would be beneficial for your skin.
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