Witch hazel is astringent and ideal to boost circulation in blood vessels, helping to maintain glowing and bouncy skin. The plant is also thought to prevent bacterial growth and soothe the skin.
The common witch hazel is from the Hamamelis family and is native to North America with oval, jagged leaves that look like the leaves of hazel plants. It is thought that this may be how witch hazel got its name even if the two plants have no relation.
The plant produces clusters of vivid yellow flowers in the autumn, appearing while the previous year's seed pods are reaching maturity. The pods contain two black and glossy seeds. Native Americans ate these, even if collecting them can be an occupational hazard because they explode from the shell when ripe. The leaves branches, leaves and twigs are collected at various times throughout the year. They are dried, blended with alcohol for tinctures, or steamed for distillates.
While witch hazel infusion is done by adding the twigs and bark of the plant to hot water, the extract is sourced from France and distilled from the same parts of the plant, bringing its powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties to various products.