Why Witch Hazel Is So Important for Skin Care
The Basics of Witch Hazel
Witch hazel comes from the plant Hamamelis virginia that grows throughout the Northeast and Southeast of North America. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the genus name (Hamamelis) is Latin from the Greek meaning “service tree”.
Throughout history, Native Americans have been using witch hazel for medicinal purposes, “to reduce swelling, clear skin problems, relieve muscle and joint soreness and sooth digestive irritations,” as the plant contains anti-inflammatory compounds.
Different parts of the witch hazel tree are rich in polyphenols and tannins, like its bark, twigs and leaves. Tannins are basically astringents that tighten pores and draw out liquids (like oils), making it largely beneficial in skin care. Polyphenols are micronutrients obtained from plants, that are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
Inflammation specifically is caused by free radicals in skin cells. Because of this, scientists at Japan’s Shiga Central Laboratory studies 65 plant extracts for their potential anti-inflammatory applications as an anti-aging treatment for skin. Only two of the extracts – one being witch hazel – exhibited oxygen-scavenging effects and protective activity against cell damage.
Simply, witch hazel was found to be protective against free radicals (like pollution) and protect against damage.
Published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine in 2002, German researchers investigated the antimicrobial activity of a witch hazel distillate on bacteria and fungi. The results showed a significant antimicrobial activity for the witch hazel extract, leading researchers to conclude that it can be helpful in preventing the bacterial colonization that has a central role in the development of acne and other skin conditions.
Simply, Witch hazel was found to keep your face clean and clear of bacteria.
Many beauty products sell witch hazel as an astringent, or a water-based solution that is wiped over the skin after cleansing, usually formulated with solvent alcohols. The tannins found in the extract help to tighten skin proteins (or pores) and form a protective covering to help promote healthy skin. Witch hazel is commonly found in facial toners. When used with other ingredients like Green tea and grape seed extract, a facial toner with witch hazel can help to improve the skin’s tone and moisturize the skin.
Simply, a facial toner with witch hazel extract and other extract ingredients provides the best benefit for your skin.