While our ancestors knew the benefits of nature to their lives, mass production and distribution of chemical based products ran rampant for many decades. There has been a shift in recent years to absolve ourselves of possible toxins and return to our roots. There is no question that a more organic and natural approach makes sense. The appearance of so many Whole Foods and stores of the same type is proof that people are more conscientious of what they put into their bodies. Items used for our skin are just as important, as the ingredients seep into our pores and become just as much a part of us as the food we eat.
Witch hazel refers to a low growing shrub native to North America. It boasts wavy-edged leaves and bright yellow flowers that appear in the fall and into the dead of winter. In the past, Native Americans used extracts of witch hazel for medicinal purposes, and this was quickly adopted by the early Puritan settlers. Today, it is one of the only medicinal plants approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a non-prescription drug ingredient! Witch hazel has been used for centuries for its benefit to the skin. Astringents made from this shrub are anti-inflammatory and useful in many ways.
- All natural skin care: Witch hazel is fabulous when it comes to shrinking pores, removing excess oil, spot treating acne, and removing makeup.
- Itch remedy: It relieves the itching involved with bug bites, poison ivy, eczema, and even chicken pox.
- Sunburn and razor burn: Keeping a spray bottle in the fridge is a good idea as cool witch hazel relieves the effects of burns from the sun and shaving.
- Stretch marks: Massage an extract of witch hazel once a day into stretch marks for a few months and be amazed at the difference!
- Varicose veins: Soak cloths in witch hazel to make compresses and apply to legs.
- Hair: Spray onto scalp before washing your hair. It will add shine, de-frizz, and relieve dandruff.
- Post childbirth: Many hospitals hand out witch hazel pads to new mothers as it is beneficial to healing the perineum after giving birth.
- Hemorrhoids: Mix witch hazel with aloe and apply to affected areas for relief. It will ease pain, itching, swelling, and bleeding.
- Bruises: A witch hazel compress or applying with a cotton ball will reduce the appearance of bruises and ease pain.
- Eyes: Avoid getting it directly in your eyes, but the usage of witch hazel around the eyes helps tighten skin, reduces inflammation, and treats discoloration and puffiness.
- Deodorant: This is especially helpful to those with sensitive skin. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to witch hazel and use as deodorant.
- Swimmer’s ear: Use a dropper to insert into each ear. It will clear away oil while breaking up wax and other debris.
Bear in mind that some witch hazel products are mixed with alcohol, which can cause excessive drying. It is best to look for a product made from all natural, organic ingredients. Aloe leaf juice is a common ingredient and is very soothing. Some also contain vitamin E, which is also palliative to the skin. With so many possible uses, why not toss out all of those chemical-based bottles of skin care and enjoy the benefits of nature instead?