Photo: Getty Images / Ben-Schonewille
If you're something like us and someone talks about witch hazel in skincare, think of the toner of the old one immediately School that you used in your middle school, and even if the ingredient has flown in recent years under the radar, mark our words, it's ready for a big comeback. So much so that, according to Pinterest, it's forecasted as one of the top beauty trends for 2019 (Related: You.) Elderberry skin care products are everywhere to see)
Why is Hamamelis back in use? Many people are interested in natural remedies, ingredients and skin care approaches that could explain the resurgence, says New York City Dermatologist, Cindy Bae, MD There are also a variety of new products that promote the ingredient, with all sorts of unique formulations to help alleviate its potentially drying side effects (more on that later.)
Everything you need to know about witch hazel and what it can do for your complexion.
What is Hamamelis?
"Hamamelis is a botanical extract of flowering plants," says Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital. What makes it unique is that it contains tannins, naturally occurring compounds found in different plant species. (Yes, these are the same tannins that are found in grapes and ultimately in wine.)
What are the skin benefits of witch hazel?
Okay, why are tannins important to the skin? They act like an astringent and absorb excess oil. Bae. Therefore, witch hazel is often used in toners and other matting agents. (Related: Do I need to use a toner?)
But although this may be a well-known use, witch hazel also has anti-inflammatory properties that make it a skin-soothing ingredient for redness, adds Dr. Bae. (That's why it has traditionally been used to soothe irritation from insect bites, stings, sunburn, poison ivy, and even hemorrhoids.)
How do I know if I should use it?
Witch hazel may be a great ingredient for certain skin types, but it does not necessarily fall into the category "Everyone can and should use it". Do you have oily or acne-prone skin? Hamamelis is your new BFF because of its excellent astringent properties as well as its anti-inflammatory properties. Not only does it help fight excess oil, it can also reduce the redness and inflammation that occur when pimples emerge. (Related: The best skin care routine for oily skin)
That being said, though witch hazel is a slightly drying ingredient, Dr. Robinson, that people with dry, sensitive or eczema-prone skin avoid it. If your skin is more normal than the combination, give it a try, but choose products that do not contain extra alcohol to mitigate potentially dehydrating effects. Bae before. The good news is that many brands are non-alcoholic and label their products as such. If in doubt, just scan the ingredient label. After every hazelnut based product with moisturizer can also be helped. (Related: 1
Which type of hamamelis products are the best?
Dr. Bae proposes to look for an ingredient in liquid form or in the form of a pad which is most effective in exploiting all of these oil-absorbing and gloss-suppressing benefits. You can also look for it in combination with other ingredients, not just to balance it out and make sure it's not too dry, but also to get even more skin care benefits. Many formulations now combine witch hazel with moisturizing ingredients. (See also: Why Mushrooms are the New "It" Skin Conditioner)
There is no shortage of Hamamelis toners to choose from. Some we like:
- SheaTerra Organics Kigelia Neroli CoQ10 Facial Toner contains Kigelia neroli (an African fruit that firms the skin and balances the skin) and cleansing Hamamelis, all in a non-alcoholic formula. (24 $, sheaterraorganics.com)
- Dickinson's Hydrating Toner with Rosewater is also alcohol free. It contains both hyaluronic acid and vitamin E for added hydration and not to mention that it uses a purest version of distilled hamamelis that is not diluted so you get as many benefits as possible. ($ 6, walmart.com)
- To stop the shine and also help the skin tone, grab the new Ole Henriksen Glow2OH Toner for Dark Spots a powerful combination of witch hazel and complexion Brightening glycolic acid contains lactic acids. ($ 28, sephora.com)
You'll also find Hamamelis in a number of other cleaning products:  The InstaNatural Acne Cleanser contains a trio of flawless ingredients: pore-clearing salicylic acid, antibacterial tea tree oil and of course witch hazel. ($ 17, instanatural.com)