The witch hazel comeback – and why you should get on board

In the ‘90s, no teen skin care routine was complete without witch hazel. Since then, the fervour for these astringent toners has waned. That is, until now…

A recent Personal Care and Cosmetics Industry Ingredient Trend report identified witch hazel as poised to make a “comeback” in 2020.

It noted that the return of these “old school ingredients” is part of a boarder natural-based skin care trend.

So with this plant-based ingredient back in the skincare limelight, here is why experts rate it.

Witch hazel 101: Benefits of this ‘wonder ingredient’

Technically known as the Hamamelis virginiana plant, witch hazel is an age-old natural remedy used as an anti-inflammatory for skin.

Cosmetic aesthetician Dr Clara Hurst says the plant extract “is very soothing for irritated skin”.

“The topical application of witch hazel is hugely beneficial for people suffering from skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis,” says Dr Hurst, owner of Blanc Skin Clinic.

“Witch hazel works to soothe the affected area on application, helping to reduce swelling and redness straight away.”

Beyond the complexion, Dr Hurst says this “wonder ingredient” can also help treat a variety of other skin ailments, such as bug bites, rashes and burns.

Who does witch hazel work best for?

In its past heyday, witch hazel was mostly popular among teens to help treat acne.

But Dr Hurst says witch hazel is suitable for “people of all ages”.

“Witch hazel can be beneficial for treating adult acne too,” she says.

However, Dr Hurst offers the caveat that dry skin types should use a hydrating serum in conjunction with witch hazel, to ensure the skin isn’t stripped of moisture.

Why is witch hazel trending?

After previously being overlooked as simply a toner for teens, corneotherapy skin expert and Robyn McAlpine believes witch hazel is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

“I don’t think we fully understood the benefits back then,” says Robyn, owner of Skintifix.

“If you look at the properties of this ingredient, it’s highly underrated.”

Dr Hurst echoes this sentiment, adding that in the eyes of skin experts, witch hazel has always “stood the test of time”.

“There are some ingredients that just work and witch hazel is one of them,” says Dr Hurst.

But in 2020, Robyn says that witch hazel’s inclusion in skin care has evolved.

“This time around, instead of leaving the skin feeling dry and tight, witch hazel is being incorporated into more sophisticated skin care formulas that support the skin,” she says.

Written by Sharon Hunt.