Natural witch hazel is a cosmetic and medicinal product made from of a blend of ingredients, including extract from the witch hazel, or Hamamelis Virginiana, shrub. In most cases, the extract and other ingredients are combined to make an astringent that can be used for many different purposes. An astringent, including natural witch hazel, is a product that is applied topically with the purpose of shrinking skin, or otherwise causing it to contract. Most notably, witch hazel toner is used to help combat acne, but it has a myriad of other uses, including soothing and healing skin, treating sunburn and tightening pores.
The witch hazel plant is also known as winter-bloom or spotted hazel and is indigenous to wooded areas in the United States, most notably Connecticut. The plant is so-named because it resembles a hazel and has branches that are pliable; in Old English, the word for pliable was wych. The bark and the leaves of the plant are used to make an aromatic and therapeutic extract that, when combined with alcohol and other ingredients, is an astringent for use on the skin. Some formulations may also include aloe vera, while others may use alternative ingredients in place of alcohol, which can be drying.
As natural beauty products continue to increase in popularity, many people are turning to natural witch hazel as a product that serves a variety of purposes. People of all ages use witch hazel for skin care because it helps to cleanse the skin, tighten pores and remove excess oil, and it is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin. It is also used for the treatment of hemorrhoids in the form of witch hazel pads and can be used to soothe bruising and reduce swelling. Additionally, natural witch hazel helps to reduce redness and irritation caused by diaper rash, sunburn and poison ivy.
In 1848, natural witch hazel was first marketed as an herbal product by Theron T. Pond; eventually, the product came to be known as Pond's Extract. Prior to this, Native American Indians distilled which hazel by boiling the plant parts. They used it mainly as an herbal remedy for bug bites, sore muscles and to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses. The product became well-known and widely used in the United States — so much so that most people can recognize natural witch hazel as a product that their grandmothers used when they were children.