Witch Hazel. Hamamelis Virginiana. I would love to tell you some contrived story of how it is believed that witches used the leaves of the this plant to cast evil spells. However, this small tree or shrub has nothing to do with witches at all. Apparently the word witch comes from the old English word wice meaning pliable describing the plants branches. Dah well.
Witch hazel is a wonderful astringent and has been used for ages to treat cuts, bruises, wounds and insect bites. In facial care it is used to tone the skin and treat acne. It works well to cleanse, tighten and constrict skin.
You cannot find pure witch hazel essence, however you can commonly find this distillate in alcohol at your pharmacy. Because of the drying effects of alcohol I opt to use solution of witch hazel in aloe vera juice by Thayers.
12 oz, $9.99
Available online or health food stores
ing: Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Certified Organic Filet Of Aloe Vera), Glycerin (Vegetable), Fragrance (Natural Rose) Hamamelis Virginiana (THAYERS® proprietary un-distilled Witch Hazel) Extract, Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Flower Water, Citric Acid, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate.
There are 10 different varieties of Witch hazel sold by Thayers, I happen to be partial to rose water because it is awesome but they also have cucumber, lemon, lavender, among others.
For natural hair witch hazel is great for the scalp. You can use it to cleanse the scalp quickly by applying to a cotton cloth when protective styling does not permit you to do a full wash. For my dread-heads out there you can use this to cleanse your scalp as well when you are between washes. It can also be used after a workout or when suffering from itchy scalp (the aloe also helps soothe irritated skin).
For skin care use after you cleanse your face as a facial toner or to treat acne. I also use it after shaving under my arms to soothe and tone the skin as well. Men can use it as a facial aftershave as well.
For first aid use it to treat and clean minor cuts and scrapes, your kids will like it because it is alcohol free and does not burn or sting.
The $10 price tag seems like a bit much when compared to the $1 cost of its cheaper alcohol counterpart, but when you factor in its multi-use functions for everyday skincare it is well worth it.