Witch hazel has been used for centuries, dating back to Native Americans, who used it for medicinal purposes such as to treat inflammation and swelling. Fast-forward to today, where it’s touted as a powerful ingredient often found in toners for its soothing properties. We’re firm believers in using witch hazel on our skin and find it to be the perfect natural ingredient to treat a variety of concerns.
What is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel is a shrub native to North America and known for its flowers, which range from dark yellow and orange to red in color. During the winter months, the twigs are collected and steamed in order to extract the powerful skin toning ingredient we love.
This extract works wonders thanks to the tannins found in witch hazel bark. Tannins, also found in red wine, are a type of natural compound with astringent effects, meaning they help to constrict skin tissue and tighten pores, effectively soothing inflammation and other skin conditions ranging from acne to eczema. These tannins also help remove bacteria and excess oil, making witch hazel an effective cleanser. Witch hazel extract is also high in antioxidants, preventing skin cell damage and reducing signs of aging.
Most products mix the witch hazel extract with alcohol and water, sometimes adding in other soothing ingredients like aloe or rosewater. There are also alcohol-free formulas on the market, a few of which are included in our list below.
Justine Khan, Founder of Botnia Skincare says, "It's ideal to use a toner after cleansing and before moisturizing, both morning and evening. You can spray it directly to the face and pat it in, or spray it into your hands and then pat it into your face. Toning the skin is a step that can easily be overlooked, but it's so important to balance the pH of your skin after cleansing, and toner is the perfect (refreshing!) way to balance your skin and leave it ready for moisturizing."
Witch Hazel Can Treat Many Different Skin Conditions
Thanks to witch hazel’s antioxidants and astringent effects, it can be used to alleviate tons of different conditions. It’s most widely known for being able to treat acne, thanks to its pore tightening and drying properties, but it may also help protect skin from damage created by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and used to treat sunburns. These soothing effects are also useful in alleviating sensitive scalps and even itchiness from bug bites.
Witch hazel can also be used to reduce swelling, meaning it works wonders to reduce puffy tired eyes and has also been proven effective in treating varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
One of our other favorite witch hazel toner uses is like a gentle cleanser. In the winter months when our normal cleanser dries out our skin too much, or when we’re running late and don’t have time for a full beauty routine, we love a quick swipe of a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel toner followed by our favorite moisturizer.
In the summer, we keep our witch hazel toner in the fridge for a quick cold spritz. The cold toner is extra refreshing and helps to further tighten pores. It’s perfect for a wake-up call in the morning or after coming home from a day in the sun.
Before Using Witch Hazel, You Should Know
Due to the tannins in witch hazel extract, overuse could lead to dry skin. We recommend starting by using it only a few times per week, slowly increasing use and paying careful attention to your skin to prevent dryness. As with any toner, you’ll always want to follow up with a moisturizer.
Are you convinced yet? We’ve added witch hazel toner to our routine and are loving it. After testing a ton of different formulas, we’ve found the 6 best products to soothe your skincare woes and hope you love them as much as we do.
Top 6 Witch Hazel Toners
Gentle Formulas for Everyday Use
This alcohol-free blend has a beautiful floral scent thanks to rose petal water, which helps restore dehydrated skin and boost the astringent properties of the witch hazel. The formula also includes certified organic aloe vera for extra soothing and hydrating. Free of parabens and propylene glycol.
From the Organic Authority Files
Perfect for everyday use, this gentle toner combines witch hazel leaves with vegetable glycerin to make a moisture-loving extract, additionally, it contains goldenseal and arnica-two healing plants to take down inflammation and help kill bacteria. This plant-powered trio creates a toner elixir that's perfect for keeping the skin toned, clear and your moisture barrier protected.
Brightening Toners for an Extra Boost
We love this product because it has natural AHA’s like grapefruit and peppermint oil, combatting dullness and promoting a bright, even complexion. It also uses organic witch hazel extract and is vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated without silicones, chemicals, or fillers.
The organic jasmine green tea in this toner adds extra powerful antioxidants to the witch hazel, making it more effective at fighting oiliness and blemish-prone skin. This product is Leaping Bunny and PETA certified, vegan, and free of synthetic fragrances.
Exfoliating Products for Mature Skin
Witch hazel, lactic acid, black tea, and citrus extracts come together to exfoliate and encourage cell turnover, while aloe soothes and hydrates, making it perfect for mature skin. This toner has the added bonus of eco-friendly recyclable packaging and is free of sulfates, parabens, and fragrances.
This toner is 100% organic, soy free, synthetic fragrance-free, and vegan. Aloe tops the ingredient list, making it super soothing and hydrating, with witch hazel coming in to clean and firm.
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