Sunday, May 12, 2019

IS WITCH HAZEL A SKINCARE GAMECHANGER?




Could Witch Hazel Be The Missing 

Link In Your Beauty Regime?



My first experience of witch hazel was as a teenager, a makeup artist removed my eye (yes, eye!) makeup with it. It brought my skin out in a rash and nearly burnt my eyelids off!  It was around this time I realised my skin type was sensitive and I should probably pay better attention to what was being put on my skin.

WITCH HAZEL CONTAINS SOME POTENT PHYTOCHEMICAL COMPOUNDS THAT ARE HIGHLY BENEFICIAL FOR ALL SKIN TYPES


Witch hazel has long been associated with treating acne and calming eczema, but was typically distilled and formulated using denatured alcohol (ethanol). Making it difficult to get the full benefits without drying and damaging your skin.





However, these days quite a few brands are making alcohol-free products with natural, hydrating ingredients. If like me you kept your witch hazel at the back of the medicine cabinet, then allow me to reintroduce you to this amazing ingredient and its seemingly endless skin benefits!





What Is Witch Hazel?


Witch hazel is an extract of active plant constituents derived from the flowering plant Hamamelis virginiana. Once it's harvested, the bark and leaves are distilled to bring out the active chemical compounds of the plant,  such as polyphenols, flavonoids, tannins and volatile oil.


THE ACTIVE CONSTITUENTS IN PLANTS ARE THE CHEMICALS THAT HAVE MEDICINAL EFFECTS ON THE BODY


These components make witch hazel a potent natural astringent that boast antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.




Witch Hazel's Magical Skin Refining Properties


NATURAL ASTRINGENT 

One of the main reasons witch hazel could be the missing link in your skincare regime is because of its skin tightening and pore-shrinking capabilities. These powerful astringent properties are due to high concentrations of tannins found in the leaves and bark of the hamamelis plant.



WITCH HAZEL IS A RICH SOURCE OF CONSTRICTING COMPOUNDS THAT DRAW THE PROTEINS INSIDE SKIN CELLS TOGETHER MAKING PORES APPEAR SMALLER


Plant tannins are well known antioxidants in medicinal plants and fruit. Phenolic compounds and flavonoids are a unique category of plant phytochemicals especially in terms of their vast health-benefiting properties. They are considered to be cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic among others.





Tannins are found in large quantities in green tea, which is why it is considered and marketed as an anti-aging drink. One cup of green tea is said to provide 10-40mg of polyphenols (antioxidants). Tannins are present in the skin and seeds of grapes and are an important part of the winemaking process.


ANTI-AGING

Witch hazels various properties add up to a trifecta of skin perks that refine pores, reduce inflammation, and tighten the skin.

"The polyphenols in witch hazel have natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as a 'free-radical scavenger', meaning it helps protect against DNA damage caused by oxidative stress, exposure to UV rays, pollution, poor diet, stress and so on. Plants like witch hazel that are high in polyphenols are the same kind used to create anti-aging nutritional supplements that slow down disease development by protecting cells" says Dr Josh Axe 



PURIFYING FOR ACNE & ECZEMA

The antiviral and antimicrobial activity in tannins has been studied for their inhibiting effects on viruses like influenza and HPV. A 2002 German study showed significant antimicrobial activity of witch hazel on the acne-causing bacteria Staphyloccus aureus, and fungi such as Candida albicans. The study also validated witch hazels value in preventing the bacteria colonisation responsible for the development of atopic dermatitis as well as other microbial skin conditions.


WITCH HAZEL TONERS REMOVE EXCESS DIRT AND OIL FROM THE SKIN

As a natural cleanser witch hazel can purify the skin making it a very effective acne treatment. It is capable of reducing and preventing bacteria growth on the skin, speeding up the healing time for infections and scabs, reducing inflammation and decreasing redness.





PH BALANCING

Most cleansers and face washes strip the fats (lipids) from the skin. They contain surfactants and alcohols as their first ingredients which, through prolonged use can cause irreparable damage to the skin's barrier function. One of the links in this chain reaction of damage is our skins pH balance.

USING A TONER WITH THE CORRECT pH LEVEL IS SUCH A VITAL STEP IN OUR SKINCARE ROUTINE THAT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

I have never been a fan of store bought facial toners, (not just witch hazel ones) because they generally include bad alcohols and preservatives and totally dry my skin out. I alternate my toners between an ACV, rose water or witch hazel toner to help balance my skins pH after cleansing. 






How To Choose A Witch Hazel Toner?


GO ALCOHOL-FREE

Witch hazel is typically extracted with alcohol to create an astringent toner; however, "if the alcohol content is too high for your skin, it will dry out or cause disruption to the skins barrier function,Dr Longwill says. For this reason dermatologists recommend choosing a witch hazel product thats alcohol-free, especially if you plan on making this product a part of your regular skincare routine.

Alcohol in skincare creates a chain reaction of damage in the epidermis that continues long after it has evaporated. A study published in 2003 found that with regular exposure to alcohol-based products, cleansing becomes a damaging ordeal—skin is no longer able to keep water and cleansing agents from penetrating into it, thus further eroding its surface layers. An anti-aging nightmare for your skin!







It should be noted that there are two categories of alcohol when it comes to skincare. Good (fatty) alcohols like cetyl, stearyl or cetearyl, and bad (damaging) alcohols like benzyl, denatured and isopropyl alcohol. Annmarie Gianni has a great article about this subject if you want to read up on it here.  


Check for moisturising ingredients when purchasing witch hazel. Dr Longwill recommends looking for products that also contain hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or aloe vera, so that the delivery of the product isn't too drying for the skin.




THAYERS: A BIT OF HISTORY


On their website, Thayers say they are the only witch hazel products made of non-distilled extract maintaining the highest levels of tannins. One the reasons I prefer this brand to others is because  they use certified organic witch hazel and aloe vera, and use a propriety cold water extraction method that is not distilled. This, they say leaves 195% more beneficial tannins compared to their competitors.

I don't know about all of that, but I do know it's the best witch hazel product I've tried. This isn't a sponsored post, I just find this brand very refreshing in todays oversaturated world of skincare companies. They have a pretty impressive 170 year legacy in the personal care industry too!







Henry Thayer M.D. was the son of a physician and one of the founding families in Massachusetts. He opened a laboratory on Maine Street, Cambridge in 1847 and initially sold his newly developed line of herbal extracts exclusively to medical professionals.

Henry Thayer & Company prospered and broadened its line of products, and has been described as the largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in America at the time of the Civil War.

In 1989 alcohol-free witch hazel toners were introduced. Thayers began using Certified Organic Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera in 2012. In 2013, Thayers entered into an exclusive agreement with a family farm in Fairfield County, Connecticut to grow Thayers Certified Organic Witch Hazel to be used in their proprietary extract.



The Facial Mist and Toner (same formula) come in Rose Petal, Coconut water, Lavender, Cucumber, and also unscented. They are all naturally fragranced and formulated with Aloe Vera to help moisturise. My personal favourite is the Rose Petal. 

Because they are water based, these toners contain a preservative called phenoxyethanol, which rates a 4 on the EWG Skin Deep Database. But it doesn't appear until number five on the ingredient list, which is always a bonus!







HOW I USE A WITCH HAZEL TONER



I alternate my skincare regime between the OCM, natural facial washes, and exfoliation with Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). At the moment I'm using FaceTheory's Clarifying Cleanser.

AHAs and BHAs cause a lot of really good activity in the skin. They dissolve the 'glue' that holds dead skin cells together, encouraging the skins natural shedding process from the inside-out, and speed up cell regeneration. AHAs are water loving molecules so can help dry skin by improving the skins moisture levels, whereas BHAs penetrate deeper into the skin and can fight acne-causing bacteria and unclog pores. They also stimulate collagen production.

I love to use Witch Hazel toner to help balance my skins pH levels after washing my face. Especially  after  exfoliating with hydroxy acids, it feels so soothing and purifying at the same time!

I also use this toner on a clean face before a micro-needling session with a needle size under 1.5mm.  Any size above this you will need to sterilise the skin. 


Some other brands that offer alcohol-free options are Forest Heals Witch Hazel Facial Toner with Aloe Vera, Rose Water, Green Tea and Humprey's Lilac Witch Hazel.





The only downside to this brand right now is that I have to buy it from Ebay when purchasing in the UK. I'm not sure why they are not available on Amazon as that would be my preferred place to shop. But, if your in the States you can buy it here or here. And here in Canada.


One last thing before I go. The three bottles above look a lot like the toner bottles, but they're NOT.  These are Thayers Astringent products, a similar formula to the toner but these guys contain SD alcohol as the second ingredient! 

Thanks for visiting