Distilled witch hazel is a liquid tincture brewed from the leaves and roots of the witch hazel tree. It has multiple cosmetic and medical uses. Witch hazel is also known as winterbloom and snap hazel.
Once it has been steamed, the roots and bark of the witch hazel will be distilled into a liquid containing alcohols, tannins, and soothing agents. These ingredients make distilled witch hazel a sufficient product to use in skin and hair care. It is used as a skin toner, as an ingredient in shampoo for oily hair, and to soothe skin inflammation.
Cosmetically, distilled witch hazel can be used to remove makeup. Due to its alcohol content, it is often used as an astringent. When added to a toner or facial cleanser, the natural astringents tighten pores and make skin look more taut. It has also been used as a mild treatment for oily or acne-prone skin.
Witch hazel has just as many medical uses as cosmetic ones. Its alcohol content makes it an adequate antibacterial cleanser, and the soothing elements of the distilled liquid help lessen the irritation of bug bites, diaper rash, or other infections. Some people recommend using witch hazel on lightly windburned or sunburned skin. Even though witch hazel itself is used to treat many different internal and external conditions, the distilled form should only be used externally. It should not be swallowed and should be kept away from eyes and mucus membranes, as the natural alcohol will irritate them.
One of the best ways to apply distilled witch hazel is with a cotton ball gently rubbed all over the skin. It can also be put in a small spray bottle and spritzed over insect bites. Many guides to using witch hazel safely recommend keeping it away from open cuts or serious burns on the skin. Even though witch hazel tea can be used to treat bleeding gums or diarrhea, it's not recommended that individuals gargle with distilled witch hazel or put it in tea.
Distilled witch hazel has been approved for safe use by the US Food and Drug Administration. Bottles can be bought in drug stores or at retailers specializing in herbal cures. Individuals should make sure to read the label to ascertain whether the witch hazel has been mixed with other ingredients and determine its alcohol content — witch hazel that has been double distilled has less.