Hamamelis Virginiana Extract

Ingredient: Witch Hazel

INCI: Hamamelis Virginiana

Source: Witch Hazel Plant

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What is Hamamelis Virginiana Extract?

Witch hazel is a plant native to North America but also cultivated in Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Hamamelidaceae plant family and extracted from steam distillation of the leaves, bark, and branches.

Hamamelis virginiana extract is one of the most versatile herbs and widely used in the formulation of products including skincare, deodorants, hair conditioners, shampoos, eye makeup and aftershave lotions.

Benefits of Hamamelis Virginiana Extract:

Hamamelis virginiana contains tannin – the most important healing constituent in this herb – which gives the shrub its astringent efficacy. This allows the plant to be used effectively against bruises and skin conditions like atopic eczema and inflammation. Research has shown that the shrub’s antioxidant activities may also trigger anti-inflammatory effects. A comparative study of the hamamelis virginiana concentrate and hydrocortisone (a common eczema medication) creams showed equal effectiveness in reducing acute eczema.

As a natural astringent, witch hazel can help to control acne by decreasing redness and oil secretion. It can also lessen bacteria growth on the skin, balance the skin’s pH level, and act as a skin conditioning agent to reduce the appearance of pores. Studies by Japanese researchers have found witch hazel to be strongly active against reactive oxygen in skin tissue. They believe that witch hazel extracts have the potential to be used in topical anti-aging or anti-wrinkle products.

Side Effects & Toxicity:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits the use of witch hazel extract as an astringent in Over-the-Counter (OTC) skincare products. In high concentrations, the herb can cause allergic reactions or skin irritation.

Editor’s Note:

The name “witch” originated from the OId English’s “wice” and Middle English’s “wiche” –meaning pliant or flexible to describe the branches of the plant. The Mohegan natives reportedly were the first to show English settlers how to use the Y-shaped witch hazel sticks for “dowsing” – an ancient method for finding underground water. The sticks were said to bend toward the ground when water was detected.

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