Why Witch Hazel Might Be a Problem for Your Skin

Alexxx.VAlexxx.V
Jun. 10, 2020
You’ve heard the hype—witch hazel is everywhere. From cleaning cuts to banishing blemishes, this natural, beauty botanical has promises of helping just about every malady. Let's look into the plant extract and see if all the hype is real. 
What Is Witch Hazel?
Native to North America, witch hazel or Hammamelis virginiana, is a popular botanical that comes from a flowering shrub. The extract is taken from the leaves and bark and is then processed to create topical creams, sprays, and ointments. Like many natural skin products, witch hazel has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and it’s been used for centuries as an astringent and disinfectant. Composed of several antioxidants, the main one is a group of chemicals known as tannins. Tannins are natural astringents, causing a tight, restrictive, and drying effect when applied topically to the skin. When you apply witch hazel to your face, the tannins compress the proteins in your skin, temporarily drying up oiliness and shrinking pores. While all this may sound positive, long-term use can be detrimental to your skin.  
With promises of tackling skin's toughest issues like acne, redness, and oiliness, it boasts various benefits but with many conflicting opinions from both sides of the spectrum. While touted by many to be a “do it all” product and others see it as doing more harm than good, our experts at Cherie are getting to the bottom of this debate and debunking some witch hazel facts and myths.  
Witch Hazel for Preventing and Managing Acne
Used for prevention and treatment, many users believe that drying out their acne using witch hazel is what’s best. However, drying out your acne prone skin won’t help and oftentimes the irritating effects of witch hazel can make blemishes worse. It’s ability to be irritating can be heightened when you learn of its distillation process. Almost all types of witch hazel are mixed with alcohol, and once distilled, the final product contains about 14% to 15% alcohol. Applying alcohol to your skin is never a good thing as it can damage and impair the skin's surface. Recent research even suggests that skincare products that contain much lower amounts of alcohol have triggered barrier damage and skin cell death. No thanks! 
Can Witch Hazel Help Oily Skin? 
Many people swear by witch hazel to undo oily skin, but can it really de-grease and de-slick? While it is true that witch hazel can keep oily skin in check, it does so because of the high percentage of denatured alcohol it contains. A skincare product containing alcohol levels similar to witch hazel can significantly irritate skin due to their drying effects. While you may notice results on the surface of your skin, you could be causing damage below.
Remove Makeup with Witch Hazel
One thing our experts never recommend doing is removing your makeup with witch hazel. The combination of the astringent like tannins with the high content of alcohol can be a recipe for skin disaster. While there is limited research showing the effectiveness of using witch hazel as a makeup remover, we can also attest to the fact that it just won’t stand up to the lasting power of today’s makeup. Because of this, it can lead to excessive pulling and tugging at your skin which is never good. Tugging on your skin can create unnecessary wear and tear on the collagen and elasticity fibers, creating sagging and fine lines. It’s best to avoid this practice at all costs!
Can Witch Hazel Help with Puffy Eyes?
We’ve all suffered from tired, puffy eyes and there’s very little that can actually help reduce the puff. We have some good news though! Because of its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel can help reduce undereye puffiness. To try this remedy, dab witch hazel onto a cotton pad and then apply to your undereye area for 5 to 10 minutes. It’s also a smart idea to look for an alcohol-free witch hazel to prevent excessive dryness and irritation around your sensitive and delicate under eye skin. 
While witch hazel might not have a permanent residence in your skincare routine, you can use it on a number of ailments from the neck down. If you have itchy, uncomfortable bug bites or a particularly bad bout of poison ivy, witch hazel can help soothe the itch and calm irritation. If you bruise easily, try dabbing witch hazel on the spot to reduce and fade the bruise. The tannins in witch hazel can help speed up the healing process. Have you ever used witch hazel? What were the results you saw—or didn’t see—with its use?
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