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Fad or Fact? The Many Uses and Benefits of Witch Hazel

            Witch Hazel is a product derived from the leaves and bark of the plant, Hamamelis virginiana. This shrub is native to many regions of North America, and its uses and benefits were first introduced to us as far back as the colonial times from the Native American Indians.

           There is not enough space to tell of its wonderful properties and uses. Native Americans used this wonderful plant’s properties for painful skin ulcers and bruises. Together with early settlers they all swore by the power of its branches for divining water or water “witching”. But that’s not all; used for minor burns, an astringent for enlarged pores, open follicle (sebaceous) cysts, minor cuts or abrasions for its homeostatic qualities on minor cuts or abrasions. As well as many sorts of skin irritations, insect bites and stings, and most important regulating the pH of the skin mantle. In regulating the pH after cleansing, all products after wards can do their thing.

            In skin care the most important step is keeping the pH mantle balanced. There is a lot of talk about microbiome. Inside and outside. Well that all starts with pH, it’s not new in Chemistry, the pH is always important when balancing a formula for what its expectant result is. If the pH of the skin is not balanced after cleansing, the next product in the system is not going to live up to its expectations. The same as balancing the inside of your microbiome (probiotics etc.) Witch Hazel is used not only as a main ingredient but also a supplemental ingredient. Your pH mantle (skin’s mantle) is what protects you from irritation and bacteria. Your skin (all 2000 square inches) is a major organ that protects all the workings inside your body. So ever since North America had inhabitants this plant has been doing its job when properly used.

        The most common use for witch hazel is to apply it topically on the skin as an astringent. This is because of the wonderful anti-inflammatory properties of the plant’s extracts. Its uses extend to other areas of the body, such as to soothe sensitive skin on the scalp or other areas of the body.

         Because witch hazel has such potent anti-inflammatory properties, it is excellent to use on skin that is prone to acne, as well. It acts to reduce the ability of the bacteria on the skin from balancing the pH mantle. It works gently, without irritating the already-inflamed skin to cleanse. It is an important ingredient within Blemfree™, to balance the treatment of acne.

         With its many uses as a treatment to relieve many skin conditions, it is a product that has a lasting place in the health and beauty industry. It is often added to many other products, in addition to the manufacturer’s proprietary blend of ingredients, to gently soothe and cleanse the skin.

         Although it has not been studied as a means to cure any medical condition, witch hazel has been regarded for ages as a natural remedy to soothe sensitive and irritated skin. It is gentle enough to use on any skin type and is derived from nature. Clinical research has not been done to show any direct cures for other conditions, though researchers are hopeful to find additional benefits to treat other inflammatory-related issues. Witch hazel, when used as a topical astringent, has many benefits and uses on the skin. Its long history of use shows that it is not merely a fad, but a truly beneficial botanical ingredient.

By: Normajean Fusco

Co-Author: Sara E. Goodwin   

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