Witch Hazel

What is Witch HazeL (WH)?

WH is a small tree or a deciduous large shrub, genus of the flowering plants of the Hamamelidaceae family. Hamamelis Ovalis, Hamamelis Virginiana and Hamamelis Vernalis are the three species native to North America, while Hamamelis Japonica is found in Japan and Hamamelis Mollis is found in China.

In addition, a large group of hybrids, a cross between Hamamelis Japonica and Hamamelis Mollis, are highly variable but commonly encountered. They are botanically named Hamamelis X Intermedia. This means intermediate in habit, colour or form.

Depending on the species, the flowers appear in autumn, winter, or early spring. They are particularly resistant to cold weather.


Witch Hazel (WH) - Native Americans Medicinal Plant

WH has healing properties so powerful that the North American Indians used it as a natural topical healing remedy as early as the 16th century.

A decoction of barks, stems, twigs and leaves, steamed or boiled, were applied to soothe and loosen sore muscles, treat minor wounds, abrasions and skin irritations.

The Native Americans recognized its medicinal benefits and later introduced the plant to the early religious settlers.

In the mid 19th century, herbalists introduced a new and different type of WH preparation to cure different ailments.

The new medication was prepared by the distillation of the herb’s latent branches with alcohol producing a scented concentrate known as the hamamelis water, distilled WH extract or just simply ‘WH’. The product, meant for healing different skin conditions, is still marketed in huge quantities worldwide.

Witch Hazel (WH) Hydrosol Versus Distilled Witch Hazel (WH)


WH does not produce enough essential oil to make production viable. Neither can the essential oil of WH be sold separately as a consumer product. However, there are various distillates of WH (called hydrosols or hydrolats) that are readily available. They are much gentler than the WH (Drug Store Brand) because the are generally non-alcoholic or alcohol free.

Hydrosol is the aromatic water or condensate water that remains after the process of extracting an essential oil via water or steam distillation. This 'water' contains the very essence of everything that was contained within the plant when it was still alive and growing.

WH hydrosol is used in skin care products, it is an astringent and strong antioxidant, which makes it very useful in tackling acne. It can be used as a natural treatment for aftershave applications, blistered or cracked skin, eczema, ingrown nails, psoriasis,insect bites, poison ivy, Haemorrhoid preparations, varicose veins and used to avoid a sweaty face. Women use it to soothe wounds and minimize swelling due to childbirth.

WH Extract is an ingredient used in cosmetic and medicinal preparations. It can be used alone, or in combination with other ingredients or herbs.

WH extract has anaesthetic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiseptic, antimicrobial, astringent and antibacterial properties. Its use for cosmetic and medicinal purposes also makes it indispensable.

However, commercial WH extracts similar to Distilled WH (Drug Store Brand) usually contains alcohol.

86% WH extract and 14% alcohol.

Distilled WH sold in drug stores and pharmacies typically contains no tannin. The astringency in WH comes from the 7% to 10% tannins found in the hydrosol.

The Hamamelis virginiana leaves contain 7 to 10% of tannins. The bark has about 7% of hamamelitannin and other condensed tannins, while the other active compounds include flavonoids, Gallic acid, flavonoids, volatile oils and Saponins.

WH (Drug Store Brand) is generally steam distilled with added alcohol. It does not contain tannins, alcohol is added to give the sensation of astringency.


Witch Hazel (WH) Benefits and Witch Hazel (WH) Products

Nowadays WH can be used in skin care products, as well as, eyewash preparations, eye gels, personal hygiene products and hair care products. It is recognized as a cost effective and natural soothing ingredient.


Skin Care

AHA / BHA Anti-wrinkle Products, Toners / Clarifying Lotions, Eye Creams, Facial Masks, Facial Cleansing Pads, Towelettes, Pre-moistened Cleansing Pads, Moisturising Creams & Lotions, Vanishing & Night Creams.

Body Care

Depilatories, Bath Splashes, Hand Lotions & Creams, Shaving Creams, Foaming Skin Cleansers, Suntan Lotions, Soaps, Soothing Foot Soaks, Conditioning Bath Gels and Skin Refreshers.

Hair Care

Hair Gel, Hair Spray, Hair Rinse, Hair Mousse, Conditioning / Moisturising Shampoos, After Shampoo Conditioners and Spray-on Conditioners.

Personal Care for Men

Clear Gel Hair Grooming Products, Hair Tonics, Pre-Electric Shaving Lotions, After-Shave Lotions & Gels and Deodorant Roll-ons

Veterinary Care

Soothes Sore Muscles, Hot Spots, Saddle / Blanket Sores, Cleans and Soothes Sore Ears.

Other Uses

Rash Treatment, Toothpaste & Tooth gel and Mouthwash.


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