I remember my grandmother’s little opaque square bottle of Witch Hazel that she used for most everything. It would sit on the shelves next to the sink and this was a common item in “reducing heat” in the face or if I got a cut, or to take play make up off with. Each night she would take a cotton ball and dab a bit of Witch Hazel on it and swish it around her face. A one stop beauty regime for those who grew up during the great depression. Here’s the thing, pure steam distilled Witch Hazel IS a very good option for all of the above mentioned uses, however most of what you find stocked on the shelves is distilled using alcohol, or worse hexane, and a residual 14-15% remains in the product. While seeming like a relatively small amount of alcohol, studies have shown that even half of that amount creates damaging effects to the skin, strips the acid mantel which further reduces our skins natural protection and barriers and is highly drying to all dermal layers. What I am saying is; With this product/ingredient, the quality truly matters.
Natural, steam distilled Witch Hazel contains many compounds with potent anti-inflammatory properties, including gallic acid and tannins. Because of these compounds, it acts as an astringent, causing your tissues to naturally contract which helps shrink pore visibility, all the while soothing your skin and relieving inflammation.
Lets go a little more in depth now about Tannins and Gallic Acid.
Tannins are a natural plant compound that have powerful antioxidant properties (this is also the reason why people say red wine is so good for you). We have a more in depth look at antioxidants on our blog about Vitamin C. Antioxidants help protect our cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that wreak havoc on our cells. They are responsible for much of the sickness and early aging symptoms that are so prevalent in our society today. Gallic Acid, a polyphenol, is another class of powerful antioxidants. Together these two compounds fight cell sickness, redness and irritation to the skin, have anti bacterial properties which make Which Hazel great for gently fighting acne causing bacteria, it helps with reduction of pore visibility thus optimizing the skins surface. As it turns out, Grandma was not wrong!
I believe the most important factor when looking at products that contain Witch Hazel, or using it as a solo ingredient, is to understand how it was manufactured. Look for other ingredients added to it and just say no if it contains alcohol.
As always, we at Recherch’e Organics hope you find this informative and helpful on your journey to clean beauty. Until next time.