It's ironic, really. Some of the most powerful ingredients in your beauty stash are also among the most underrated. And while buzzy newcomers overpromise and underdeliver, those that really do work often lie at the back of your beauty cupboard never to be seen again.
Take witch hazel, for example. You've likely got an old tube of it hiding behind the shiny-new salicylic acid – and yet, you've forgotten just how hardworking this ingredient really is. Need a refresher? Here, WH speaks to dermatologist Dr Marisa Garshick about the myriad ways you can harness witch hazel in your skin routine.
But first: what is witch hazel?
'Witch hazel, also known as Hamamelis Virginiana, is a type of flowering shrub that can be incorporated into your skincare routine given its multiple skin benefits,' explains Dr Garshick.
'By providing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits, [it] can help to reduce irritation and inflammation, balance skin’s pH, control overall oil production and the appearance of pores,' explains Garshick. In skincare, specifically, it's often used to help treat acne and spots.
Plus, it also contains tannins which improve the appearance of the skin through antioxidant effects and protecting the skin from free radical damage, adds Dr Garshick.
The 7 surprising ways to use witch hazel in your beauty routine
On bug bites: Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel can be used to soothe bug bites and even speed up the healing time.
For sunburn: Though you should be wearing–and topping up–your SPF on the regular, if you do find you get sun burn, the tannins (a natural compound that can reduce inflammation) in witch hazel will help calm and cool it down.
To tighten pores: Witch hazel acts as an astringent which can help reduce or tighten pores.
After waxing: If you wax at home, particularly on areas around your face, you'd be prudent to apply witch hazel gel afterwards to help stave off any unwelcome spots.
To reduces oilyness: Oily skin? Witch hazel will helps remove excess oil making it a great option for oilier skin types.
On razor bumps: Not only will witch hazel reduce redness and inflammation caused by shaving, it will also help stop bacteria from growing in the hair follicles.
On spots: Got a spot brewing? Look to witch hazel to stop a pesky zit in its tracks; it works by constricting blood vessels to help reduce redness, irritation and swelling.
Can all skin types use witch hazel?
Though all skin types can use witch hazel, not all witch hazel formulas are made equal. 'It's especially important for those with dry or sensitive skin to use an alcohol-free witch hazel product to minimise the potential for dryness or irritation,' warns Dr Garshick.
How does witch hazel work with other ingredients?
'Witch hazel may be combined with other ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin or aloe vera that have added benefits and can be hydrating and soothing,' says Dr Garshick. In skincare, you'll often find alpha hydroxy acids or salicylic acid combined with witch hazel for their smoothing, pore-refining prowess.
What's the best way to incorporate it into your skincare routine?
Most commonly, witch hazel is incorporated into a skincare routine via a toner or facial mist, but you might also find it cropping up in cleansers and serums too. As for the OG witch hazel? You can't go wrong with keeping a simple witch hazel gel at your disposal for burns, bites and post-shaves.
The best witch hazel skincare
Thayers Hydrating Alcohol-free Facial Toner, £4.99, Boots
This affordable toner is alcohol-free and gentle on sensitive skin. It just so happens to be a favourite of Lily Collins and Zendaya, too.
Medik8 Daily Refresh Balancing Toner, £15
Loaded with the likes of aloe vera, allantoin and witch hazel, this pH-balanced toner helps remove impurities and boost your skin's glow.
Aesop In Two Minds Facial Toner, £39
Together with niacinamide, witch hazel helps to balance and tone your skin post-cleanse. Plus, who can resist that Shelfie-friendly packaging?
FOREO ESPADA BHA+PHA Blemish Solution, £26.90
Breakouts, pores, you name it – this multi-tasking blemish solution by Swedish brand Foreo packs a punch. Dab a thin layer of it directly onto any spots and you're ready to roll.
Pixi Glow Tonic, £18
The OG tonic that's caught the attention of TikTokers lately, this glow booster by Pixi contains AHAs, aloe vera and witch hazel. And if the reviews are anything to go by, it really works.
You Might Also Like