Witch hazel water is obtained from the steam distillation of the aerial parts of the witch hazel, scientific name hamamelis virginiana of the Hamamelidaceae family, a plant native to America and Canada but widely cultivated also in Europe.
Witch hazel water, properties
This floral water is an excellent tonic for the face, it is astringent, antiseptic, calming, refreshing, decongestant and anti-inflammatory thanks to the tannins, which are antioxidant substances, and to the essential oils contained in the leaves and in the bark (Thring et al, J Inflamm, Oct 2011). Therefore, it can be sprayed on the face in case of eczema, acne and oily skin, but also as an aftershave for men or in case of insect bites, wounds, burns, dermatitis, even caused by the diaper in children, itching and finally reddened and sunburned skin (Dawid-Pac et al, Postepy Dermatol Alergol, Jun 2013). In particular, witch hazel water can be used as after sun, sprayed on the skin or inserted into the do-it-yourself after-sun cream, in this case scientific studies have reported an anti-inflammatory and soothing effect on sunburn with preparations containing 10% of witch hazel distillate (Hughes-Formella et al, Dermatology, 1998). But also for what concerns acne witch hazel water results a very interesting ingredient, mentioned by several scientific studies for its ability to fight inflammation but also to remove excess of sebum, to counteract the enlarged pores and to purify the skin (Rodan et al, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol, Jan 2017). Witch hazel water is also a powerful antioxidant, able to counteract aging processes, wrinkles and free radical damages on the skin by rejuvenating the tissues (Turino et al, Chem res Toxicol, Mar 2008). Finally, in case of itching of the scalp and redness you can spray, before the shampoo, a little water of witch hazel on the skin and massage, leave on for 5 minutes then continue with your shampoo (Trueb et al, Int J Trichology, Jul 2014 ).
Witch hazel water, where to find and warnings
Witch hazel water is available in chemist’s and herbalist’s shops or online. The recommendation is, if possible, to choose a floral water that does not contain alcohol as this ingredient could worsen skin irritation. In addition, the use of witch hazel water is considered, generally, to be safe but in rare cases allergies and irritations have been recorded. So, if you apply this floral water for the first time, test the product on a small portion of skin by spraying the floral water, wait and see if there are any itching or red skin.