The average person does not need a fifteen step skincare routine to keep their skin healthy and glowing. A select few basic products that vary from person to person usually will do the trick quite nicely. Moisturizers are a friend to almost everyone, as are toners.
Used to cleanse the pores and remove heavy products as a second step to cleansing, toners are amazing assets to keep your skin unclogged and oil free. Though many products exist with a wide variety of active ingredients, one tried and true acne fighting toner option that is not only effective but also natural is witch hazel.
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What is Witch Hazel?
Derived from the leaves and bark of the Hamamelis virginiana plant, witch hazel has intense antibacterial and antifungal properties. A small shrub native to North America, the source plant is readily available, making it a cheaper option compared to pricier luxe toning elixirs.
Due to its high tannin content, witch hazel is amazing for inflammation and repairing broken skin. It has been used for centuries in treating wounds and rashes and is by far one of the most faithful, effective natural remedies on the market right now.
Inflammation is the normal inflammatory immune response your body has when it is under stress from invading bacteria and viruses. Though inflammation is normal with injuries and infection, some people experience it regularly due to chronic inflammatory health issues like psoriasis and eczema.
Witch Hazel Benefits for Skin
Witch hazel contains high levels of tannin, which works to help ease inflammation and make affected areas heal quickly with little scarring. Another anti inflammatory agent, Gallic acid, is also present in witch hazel, giving you a double dose of remedying goodness. Just apply a small amount topically to the affected areas and let it sink it for best results.
Witch hazel also has antioxidant properties that can help to diminish environmental damage to the skin when continually used. As an astringent, witch hazel works to constrict body tissues and blood vessels. This helps to reduce puffiness and bloated looking skin.
Furthermore, this astringent property can tighten pores and reduce the duration and severity of breakouts by regulating oil production. When the skin’s protective oil layer is performing at a moderate level, meaning that it is not overly abundant or overly scarce, it provides the perfect protection against invading bacterial and fungal foes.
Witch hazel works to help your body regulate oil production by balancing out your skin’s pH and keeping your pores clear and healthy.
If toners are not your thing, witch hazel also comes in an ointment form. This gel or cream is used as a spot treatment to target breakouts and bumps. Typically applied once or twice daily, this form of treatment works best under the guidance of a medical professional to ensure you are using it properly.
There are prescription versions out there that your doctor can request, as well, that are stronger and feature a higher percentage of witch hazel. If you have severe acne or frequent breakouts this may be the way to go, especially if you do not have particularly sensitive skin.
Witch Hazel Side Effects
Witch hazel has very few known side effects. In fact, there are almost none listed for healthy, average humans. Unfortunately, like any other stimuli that you may encounter, there is still a risk of allergic reactions or dermal irritation. The most common reaction is skin irritation.
Usually mild, this irritation usually only pops up in those with particularly sensitive or extremely dry skin. To counteract the risk of this, first test the witch hazel on a small patch of skin near your jawline. If you react within 24 hours, discontinue use. If you have no reaction, it is likely safe to proceed to try witch hazel on the rest of your face.
You are more likely to have a serious reaction if you use oral methods of witch hazel treatment. Not typically used for skincare, oral witch hazel capsules are commonly chosen for those with intestinal issues and other serious health problems. Sometimes, though, a doctor will opt to prescribe them for acne as a last effort before moving to more serious medications like Accutane.
The biggest risk with this form of witch hazel is liver damage.
Your body processes out anything you ingest through your liver and, in very large amounts, witch hazel can cause some serious damage. It also contains the compound safrole, which is known to be cancer causing, but the contained percentage is so small that there is no reason to be concerned with it at all.
The likelihood of it impacting your body in any way is minute.
Pregnant and nursing women should use witch hazel with caution. This is due to the fact that there simply have not been enough studies conducted to conclude that witch hazel is entirely safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Historically and culturally, witch hazel is frequently used to treat common pregnancy related illnesses and ailments like hemorrhoids and varicose veins; check with your doctor before using anything new and see where their comfort level stands.
If they have no issue with it, then certainly feel free to follow their recommended treatment instructions. Most doctors do agree that witch hazel as a toner during pregnancy is fine but always double check to be safe!
All in all, witch hazel is a natural, safe alternative to many chemical laden, man made products. It has been popular for generations simply because it works! You cannot do much better than this amazing toner, especially since it is available at almost any price point imaginable.
Some bottles even go for less than five dollars. Be sure to check with your doctor and if given the all clear just pop into any market and grab a bottle. Your skin will thank you!