Witch hazel: all about this controversial ingredient in our beauty treatments

Witch hazel: all about this controversial ingredient in our beauty treatments

Age-old remedy and fallen skincare superstar: Witch hazel’s track record is puzzling. Are we always right to sulk? Our experts speak out.

The Swiss army knife of the beauty bag

The extract from the leaves and bark ofHamamelis virginiana, a flowering plant found in North America and Japan, has been used for centuries for its many skin benefits. Aboriginal people used it to soothe sore muscles, cure coughs and treat wounds. “This plant ingredient contains large amounts of tannins (antioxidants) with an astringent action, gallic acid and caffeic acid with antibacterial properties, flavonoids with a soothing effect as well as proanthocyanidins with anti-inflammatory properties. inflammation,” says Pierre Simard, Ph.D., Scientific Director at Dermtek Pharma and Reversa. It is therefore particularly attractive for oily and acne-prone skin, since it eliminates excess sebum, tightens pores and corrects redness caused by inflammation. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of her many talents, adds DD Marisa Garshick, Dermatologist at the Manhattan Center for Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery: “It has been shown to soothe discomfort from sunburn, cuts and insect bites, decrease irritation and redness caused by shaving, to eradicate dandruff and to relieve the itching of an oily scalp.

bad rep… whose fault is it?

However, this seemingly magical ingredient sometimes finds itself in the dock, notably for having dried out and irritated the skin. “Witch hazel is an excellent natural ingredient recognized by Health Canada,” says Pierre Simard. He shouldn’t have this bad reputation!” The real culprit is its primary extraction method, which requires denatured alcohol. The formula can therefore contain up to 15% alcohol, a concentration high enough to damage the sensitive or already weakened skin barrier. Another downside? Applied too frequently or in excess, the same tannins responsible for the tightening effect can turn against us and irritate the epidermis. Fortunately, there are alcohol-free witch hazel treatments on the market. “Not all witch hazel products are created equal, and for this reason, it’s important to look for alcohol-free formulas to minimize the risk of dryness,” adds Dr.D Marisa Garshick. If all skin types (or almost) can benefit from the benefits of witch hazel, its astringent power does not make it the ingredient of choice for very dry skin.

Find the winning formula

We must therefore take into account the way it is formulated, but also the other ingredients with which it is combined. For oily acne-prone skin, we focus on treatments that contain molecules, such as salicylic acid and azelaic acid, to enhance the antibacterial effectiveness of witch hazel. “Glycolic acid will also help exfoliate dead skin cells that make the complexion dull and less even,” says Pierre Simard. “In the case of sensitive skin, we tend to look for treatments that contain soothing ingredients, such as rose water and aloe, or humectants that improve skin hydration, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid”, said the DD Marisa Garshick. Once the right treatment is in hand, all you have to do is follow the instructions for introducing witch hazel into your routine: start by applying it a few times a week and gradually increase the frequency until you use it. daily. The ideal is to stay tuned to your skin and modify the frequency accordingly.

Our favorite witch hazel treatments

Tonic lotion, That’so – 55$

This treatment is ideal for preparing the skin to reap the benefits of all the stages of our beauty routine. In addition to witch hazel, there are extracts of rose, cucumber and blueberry as well as hyaluronic acid. The little extra? Its delicate floral fragrance with notes of figs.

Moisturizing Antibacterial Hand Gel, Palm – $16

Enriched with soothing natural ingredients, such as witch hazel and aloe, this hand sanitizer kills germs without drying out the skin. We love its fragrance with essential oils of cedarwood, lavender, rosemary, orange lemon, as well as its cute refillable bottle made from 65% recycled plastic.

Rose water mist with witch hazel, Boscia – 32$

Dry skin adores it to relieve the feeling of tightness after cleansing and give makeup a boost, while users with combination to oily skin keep it in their bag to absorb excess oil and reduce the appearance of blemishes. dilated pores throughout the day.

Acnex Blemish Targeted Treatment, Reverse – $27

In times of crisis, this targeted treatment shows the door to pimples, redness and acne scars. It contains salicylic acid which unclogs pores, witch hazel which removes excess oil and an extract of Centella asiatica which soothes redness and helps healing.

Foaming Micellar Cleanser, Alya Skin – $20

Its soft and light foam eliminates make-up and dirt in a single gesture, without ever compromising the hydration of the skin. His secret? A blend of witch hazel, watermelon seed oil and rose essential oil that provides essential antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to the epidermis.

Original face tonic, Thayers – $15

It is no coincidence that this cult product is passed down from generation to generation; it combines organic witch hazel grown on a family farm and organic aloe in a pH-balanced formula to cleanse, tone and hydrate all skin types.

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