Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)The Indian tribes named this small North American tree witch hazel because of its resemblance to the hazel tree and its wonderful healing virtues. Witches ascribed magic powers to it because of its astringent and vastly protective powers.
The essential oil of witch hazel is not sold separately as the plant does not produce enough essential oil to make production viable. However, there are various distillates of witch hazel such as ours called hydrosols or witch hazel waters.
Probably the most famous way witch hazel is used is as a natural astringent. High concentrations of tannins in witch hazel make it an excellent astringent which means it has the ability to remove excess oil from skin and shrink down pores. Also, because astringents remove excess oil, regular use of witch hazel may further prevent blemishes, especially black heads which result from dried sebum build-up in pores. It is often used as a natural remedy for psoriasis, eczema and in aftershave applications.
It is traditionally known as a good first reaction against shaving cuts and abrasions for men and women. Other uses for witch hazel include use on ingrown nails, cracked or blistered skin, for treating insect bites and as a treatment for varicose veins, bruises, sprains and sun burn and it is found in numerous haemorrhoid preparations.
I love to use witch hazel in shampoos, I find that like tea tree it works against dandruff and keeps my hair looking and feeling great (but perhaps thats just me....) Just be careful not to get any Witch Hazel in your eyes it will hurt.
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