Witch Hazel Myths, Debunked!December 07, 2020
If you’re a skin-care enthusiast, you may have heard some conflicting information about witch hazel. Some swear the ingredient is super drying and irritating for the skin, while others use a witch hazel toner at least two times a day to help balance and tone their skin. So, who’s right? Well, the truth is, they both are and that’s because not all witch hazel is created equal. If you’re still confused, don’t worry. We’re debunking common myths and setting the record straight once and for all.
MYTH 1: Witch Hazel Strips the Skin of Its Natural Oils
The Truth: It depends. Witch hazel can be drying to the skin, depending on your skin type and how often you use it. The extraction process of witch hazel has also caused a few raised eyebrows because some require the use of alcohol, which can compromise the skin’s moisture barrier.
That being said, not all witch hazel is made with alcohol. For example, Thayers is a brand known for its toners and face mists formulated with witch hazel that’s alcohol-free. The brand has cultivated a unique way of extracting witch hazel that doesn’t require the use of alcohol. Instead, it uses a gentle maceration process, which is similar to brewing a cup of tea, explains Andrea Gity, director of marketing at Thayers. “The trimmings of the witch hazel plant are transported to a local manufacturing plant and immersed in water,” she says. Thayers also formulates its products with aloe vera and glycerin to help make the skin feel soothed and to counteract signs of dryness that might occur.
MYTH 2: Witch Hazel Is Only Meant for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin Types
The Truth: Witch hazel is often used by those that have oily or acne-prone skin to help keep skin clear and address excess sebum, but that doesn’t mean it’s only reserved for these skin types. Anyone can reap the benefits of witch hazel, especially when it's combined in a formula with other skin-benefiting ingredients that won’t strip skin of its moisture (see the Thayers Toners mentioned above that help address excess oil and help balance skin’s pH). The formulas with witch hazel and aloe vera help skin feel soothed and are suitable for all skin types.
MYTH 3: Witch Hazel Is Irritating
The Truth: Some witch hazel extracts can cause irritation to the skin because their extraction process creates a formula with eugenol, which is a potential skin irritant and allergen. But eugenol is an oil-soluble compound and because Thayers uses a water-based extraction method, it doesn’t have the same presence within the Thayers’ formulas.
MYTH 4: Tannins in Witch Hazel Are Bad for the Skin
The Truth: Tannins may actually have some skin-care benefits. Tannins belong to a group of compounds called polyphenols and can be found in witch hazel after the extraction process. They are often said to be drying for some skin types, but because Thayers witch hazel is not distilled with alcohol and incorporates other caring ingredients in their formulas.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn