Witch Hazel

What is it? Witch hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) is a small deciduous tree native to eastern North America. Extracts made from its stems have been used as an anti-inflammatory and astringent for hundreds of years. These days the most common format of witch hazel is witch hazel distillate, which can be purchased with or without added alcohol.
INCI Hamamelis Virginiana
Appearance The distillate is a clear, watery liquid
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Smooth, watery liquid
Scent Musty/funky
Solubility The distillate is water soluble. The plant itself is insoluble, but can be used to create infusions.
Why do we use it in recipes? The distillate tends to be most commonly used for its astringent properties, often in facial toners. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial. The scent isn’t great, though, so it is usually blended with other ingredients like hydrosols to weaken/mask the smell.
Do you need it? No
Strengths Inexpensive, natural astringent.
Weaknesses It doesn’t smell great.
Alternatives & Substitutions Aloe vera is similarly anti-inflammatory.
How to Work with It Include it in the water phase of your recipes; it can be hot or cold processed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, witch hazel distillate should last about three years. I store mine in the fridge. Double check with your supplier as there is likely to be some variation depending on format and/or added alcohol content.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Many things sold as “witch hazel” contain other ingredients, like aloe vera or rose water. Be sure to read the ingredient label!
Recommended starter amount 250mL (8fl oz)
Where to Buy it Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier. Look for an alcohol-free version.

Some Recipes that Use Witch Hazel

Skills

Posted on

February 5, 2019

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