Witch Hazel Is Totally Underrated
You’ve probably got some witch hazel hiding deep in your medicine cabinet next to a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and some rubbing alcohol. You may know it as an astringent, something to swipe across your skin when you want to clear away some excess oil. But witch hazel has a lot more to offer than just its astringent qualities.
The witch hazel commonly found in toners, cleansers and even in hemorrhoid treatments is extracted from the leaves and bark of the witch hazel shrub that grows in North America. Native Americans used it for its antiseptic properties to treat minor cuts, burns, insect bites, and other skin irritations.
High in polyphenolic content and antioxidant properties, witch hazel has some surprising benefits that make this humble drugstore staple deserving of some serious respect.
Inflammation in the skin is responsible for rosacea, acne breakouts, wrinkles and sagging skin. Witch hazel is loaded with tannins, a type of polyphenol that has a potent anti-inflammatory effect to help keep skin healthy, firm and youthful in appearance.
Witch hazel’s famed astringent quality is another aspect of the anti-inflammatory tannins. Tannins constrict blood vessels helping to reduce puffiness, even skin tone, give a firming effect to skin, and minimize the appearance of pores. It also promotes healing and improves skin barrier function.
The high polyphenolic flavonoid content in witch hazel makes it a free radical scavenger meaning it fights against cell damage from exposure to UV radiation and pollutants. It’s also been shown to have an inhibiting effect on the proliferation of skin cancer cells.
In addition to its antioxidant properties, which help prevent premature aging, witch hazel has been shown to inhibit elastase, an enzyme that breaks down protein in the skin.
The properties that have made witch hazel popular as a healing remedy also make it a clear skin ally. Nature’s antiseptic clears away excess oil, dissolves dirt, and fights bacteria that clog pores and feed acne.