Witch hazel: Why Gen Z are loving this skincare classic

Witch hazel has been used in skin care for centuries, but this old school beauty staple is now winning favour with a whole new generation thanks to social media.

With a long history of medicinal use, the healing properties of witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) have been used to treat fevers, colds, and skin disorders.

While “what’s old is new” rarely rings true in the skincare community because the industry tends to focus on the latest and greatest in skin innovation and technology, Gen Z’s affliction for sharing retro finds and practices on social media has inadvertently given witch hazel a revival of epic proportions.

On TikTok alone, #witchhazel boasts more than 93M views, with content creators spruiking its myriad of benefits – particularly for skin care.

“It’s a bit like fashion; skincare is the same, so as a reaction to the Korean 10-step skin routines, now the pendulum has swung back to more simplified, old-school skincare,” specialist dermatologist Dr Ritu Gupta says.

5 reasons your skin can benefit from witch hazel

It’s an acne fighter

Witch hazel is often touted as a remedy for acne-prone skin because of its antibacterial properties, which help to reduce inflammation while its astringency can help clear acne-causing bacteria and clogged pores.

It helps to reduce oil production

Witch hazel contains no alcohol, which prevents it from excessively drying out the skin in addition to targeting oil production.

By hydrating the skin without clogging pores, it helps to balance sebum production.

It can help soothe your skin

Witch hazel can relieve sensitive and irritated skin conditions, such as eczema, and it may help offset razor burn.

Witch hazel contains antiseptic properties, which can help soothe the skin and minor irritations, however it’s not suitable for serious wounds or infections.

It helps fight free radicals

Free radical skin damage is linked to premature ageing and collagen loss in the skin.

Antioxidants in witch hazel could potentially reduce free radical damage to the skin, according to aesthetician Dana Murray.

“Witch hazel possesses a high concentration of tannins, which work like potent antioxidants to help protect the skin from free radical damage,” Dana says.

It can help tighten your skin

As we get older, our skin loses its elasticity and our pores can get bigger.

The astringent properties of witch hazel can also constrict the blood vessels in our skin, which has the flow-on effect of giving a less red and inflamed appearance while minimising the appearance of pores.

But it’s not for everyone, warns Dr Gupta.

“Being an astringent, yes it will feel tight, so (for) people (who) have sensitive skin and those using topicals and acids, then it’s probably better to leave it,” she says.

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Written by Charlotte Brundrett