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Article: Witch Hazel Extract

Witch Hazel Extract

Witch hazel extract is not a new ingredient in the skincare world, but it’s one that we think is a bit understood. If you dealt with acne as a teen, you probably remember at least one acne-fighting product containing the ingredient. But beyond combating breakouts, witch hazel extract has a lot of other benefits, especially when it’s alcohol-free. Keep reading to discover all there is to know about this natural astringent. 

What is Witch Hazel Extract?

Witch hazel extract is a powerful ingredient commonly seen in skincare products like toners. It is derived from the witch hazel plant (also known by its latin name Hammamelis virginiana), which is a flowering shrub that grows throughout North America and Asia. The plant sort of looks like a small tree with yellow flowers and is known around the world for its medicinal properties. Though you might be inclined to think that witch hazel extract is distilled from the flowers, it’s actually made from the shrub’s leaves and bark. To create the extract, the bark and leaves are distilled in either water or alcohol (more on that below) to draw out the active chemical compounds of the plant (AKA the plant’s magical properties). 

What are the Benefits of Witch Hazel Extract? 

  • Astringent: Witch hazel extract’s #1 benefit? It’s a natural astringent. That is why toners are probably the top skincare product that contains the ingredient. As an astringent, continued use of witch hazel extract works to tighten the skin, minimizing the appearance of pores (some studies have shown that with continued use, witch hazel extract can even minimize the appearance of scars or stretch marks). It will also work to improve and even your overall skin tone. 
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Second, witch hazel extract is an incredible anti-inflammatory. It’s made up of gallic acid and tannins, both known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it contains antioxidants which further reduce inflammation. Thus, if you suffer from redness, irritation, and even certain kinds of acne (not cystic acne, though), witch hazel can help. 
  • Regulates Oil: Witch hazel extract also has proven benefits for oily skin. It has the ability to control excess oil, by removing oil and unclogging pores. In turn, this will not only result in a less shiny complexion but can also prevent acne.

  • How to Use Witch Hazel Extract? 

    There are so many ways to use witch hazel extract, but if you’re never used the ingredient before, the key is to start out slowly. While it can have major skin benefits, there’s also a risk of irritation so always do a patch test first. From there, try using it once every other day, allowing your skin to get acquainted with it. And rather than applying it onto your entire face, start by dabbing it onto specific areas you’re looking to target. Once you’re comfortable with it, witch hazel extract can be used as a spot treatment, toner, cleanser, makeup remover, or even as a bug bite remedy. Many people choose to apply it with a cotton round, but it can also be applied with your hands if you prefer.

    Why We Use Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Extract

    Here at Dope Skin Co., we’re all about natural, gentle ingredients. That is why you’ll notice that all of the witch hazel extract we use is 100 percent alcohol-free. Sometimes companies use ethanol alcohol in the witch hazel extraction process, with the final product containing anywhere from 14 to 15 percent alcohol. (These percentages might seem low but research has shown that even lower amounts of alcohol can damage the skin.) Alcohol-based skincare products have been known to cause dryness, irritation, breakouts, and generate free radical damage. For these reasons, Dope Skin Co. utilizes a water-steam distillation process that allows witch hazel to retain its powerful properties without adding damaging alcohol into the mix. 

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