Witch Hazel, An All Around Skin Healer
Winter is here, and this ingredient is ready to defend your skin against the harsh elements.
BEHIND THE FORMULA:
When I began developing my line of plant-based products I researched thousands of natural ingredients and their benefits because I wanted to create a range of vegan, performance-driven skincare products that would exude the notion of 'eco-luxury'.
This new series of weekly posts will highlight some of my findings so that you too can understand why an ingredient made it to the final cut of the formula in my skincare products.
Witch hazel generally refers to a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, with four species native to North America: H. mexicana, H. ovalis, H. virginiana and H. vernalis; one to Japan, H. japonica; and one to China, H. mollis. Of these, Hamamelis virginiana is most common type used in folk medicine in the U.S.
Witch Hazel is prepared from recently cut and partially dried dormant twigs of Hamamelis virginiana Linné
According to the book Phytopharmacy, the main chemical compounds in witch hazel bark and leaves are tannins; these include a mixture of gallic acid, hydrolyzable hamamelitannin and condensed proanthocyanidins; notably, the steam distillate reportedly does not contain tannins. Additional entities include low levels of volatile oils; e.g., hexenol, α- and β-ionones, eugenol, safrol and sesquiterpenes. The leaves also contain flavanols such as kaempferol and quercetin and their glycosides—astragalin, quercetin, afzelin and myricitrin.
BENEFITS FOR SKIN:
An article by Healthline highlighted the topical benefits of H. virginiana. Inflammation, for example, is alleviated by the gallic acid and tannins in witch hazel. Furthermore, the ingredient contains antioxidants, which can help prevent widespread inflammation and neutralize free radicals.
The same article cited reports of witch hazel to soothe inflammation and irritation in sensitive and even broken skin; to suppress erythema by up to 27%; and to reduce inflammation and erythema, as shown in a study of 40 subjects using a lotion with just 10% witch hazel extract. As such, witch hazel could have benefits to address inflammatory-related conditions such as acne, eczema or psoriasis.
Research published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science showed H. virginiana leaf extract restored the balance between elastin and LOXL1, and decreased the synthesis of the elafin enzyme, in turn fighting and correcting photodamaged skin. As a consequence, the elastic fibers became functional and aggregates of non-functional fibers decreased, which translated in vivo as a decrease in wrinkles and improvements in skin firmness.
SHOP WITCH HAZEL MUST-HAVES:
Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Herbal Medicinal Products By Sarah E. Edwards, Ines da Costa Rocha, Elizabeth M. Williamson, Michael Heinrich. Available at https://books.google.com/books/about/Phytopharmacy.html?id=uzvBoQEACAAJ
Healthline.com. Available at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/witch-hazel-benefits-uses#section10
Journal of Cosmetic Science, 30 Apr 2018, 69(3):175-185 PMID: 30052192. Available at https://europepmc.org/article/med/30052192