The surprising ingredient that'll repair stressed-out skin

Jennifer Lopez winter skin

Add this old-school fave to your winter routine, STAT

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / June 07 2019

Anyone else’s skin absolutely freaking out because of the cooler weather? Because SAME. Winter can leave your skin in a bit of a shambles, making it feel dry, sensitive and in need of some serious intervention.

If you’re slathering on those rich moisturisers and going to town with the ol’ hydrating mist but still feel like your skin is in bad nick, there’s one ingredient that might be missing from your routine. And it’s an old-school favourite that you’re pretty familiar with – remember witch hazel?

It turns out this one ingredient works wonders for stressed-out winter skin. The unique properties of witch hazel could be the key to nixing inflammation, reducing redness and preventing dryness and irritation

Yep - the effects of witch hazel are pretty impressive.

According to founder of her own eponymous skin care brand and cosmetic chemist Mukti, unlike a lot of other ‘buzzy’ skin care ingredients, witch hazel actually lives up to the hype. “Witch hazel is [a] plant-based ingredient which has some solid research behind its impressive beauty claims,” she says.

Witch hazel extract comes from the leaves and bark of a plant from North America (Hamamelis Virginiana) and it brings with it a whole heap of skin-loving ingredients that are ideal for a wide range of skin conditions (it can do everything from relieving sunburn and razor burn, to treating insect stings and bug bites). “It’s usually obtained by distillation and is traditionally used in ointments, tinctures and toners due to its healing and calming properties,” says Mukti. 

Since witch hazel contains both antioxidant properties and astringent properties, it’s perfect for treating redness and irritated skin. "The tannins [in witch hazel] act as an astringent that has soothing and antiseptic properties that tone and stimulate the skin and are known to reduce redness, mild inflammation and skin irritation by the action of contracting the skin tissue,” she says.

While witch hazel is commonly found in toners (like cult-favourites Thayers Witch Hazel Aloe Vera Alcohol Free Toner and T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel Toner), you may not know that this powerful little ingredient is found in a *heap* of over-the-counter skin care products and makeup products – and you’re probably going to want to add them to your winter skin care routine STAT.

Here are some of our favourite witch hazel-infused beauty products to help your skin get through winter.

Aceology Anti-Ageing Gold Modeling Mask

This two-step treatment mask is the perfect pick-me-up for dry, winter skin. Not only is it perfect for the ‘gram (it’s a gold peel-off mask!), but it’s also formulated with a powerful blend of ingredients that’ll help repair, brighten and smooth dull skin. It’s made up of peptides (promotes cellular repair), squalane (counteracts dryness), hyaluronic acid (boosts hydration), apricot (packed with vitamin A and C) as well as potent levels of witch hazel. 

Aceology’s resident masking expert Caitlin Hodgson says that while witch hazel is commonly found in toners, adding this ingredient into your masking routine can further help reduce dry, flaky and irritated skin. “It is always perfect if you want that instant soothing, anti-inflammatory result when included in your mask.” Hodgson says the addition of witch hazel also “reduces the angriness and redness associated with acne, which in turn helps speed up the healing process”.

Mukti Organics Orange Blossom Balancing Mist 

Formulated with Australian botanicals and Kakadu plum, finger lime caviar, aniseed myrtle and native pomegranate, Mukti Organics Orange Blossom Balancing Mist is also infused with star ingredient witch hazel and works to balance and refresh combination/oily skin. It also assists in the absorption of moisturisers and oils - so it's the perfect winter skin booster. If you work in an office, this is a serious desk staple – it’ll keep your skin feeling plump, hydrated and glowing the entire day.

Swisse Sweet Almond Cream Cleanser 

This natural botanical cleanser gently cleans and hydrates dry skin, while effectively removing makeup and impurities. Its enriched with pure essential oil like sweet almond oil (high in vitamin E) to deeply cleanse and nourish the skin, promoting a brighter, clearer complexion. It also contains witch hazel and rice water to tighten pores and balance the skin, without leaving it dry and irritated.

Herbivore Botanicals Rose Hydrating Mist

Formulated for all skin types (even the most sensitive skin types), this Rose Hydrating Mist is created with pure plant actives, such as witch hazel water, coconut water and rose water, which work together to instantly hydrate and replenish dry skin. This moisture-enhancing spray can be used straight after cleansing or throughout the day to refresh the skin.

Angela Caglia Soufflé Moisturiser

This ultra-lightweight moisturiser is infused with a blend of vitamins and oils to instantly plump the skin and minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Formulated with soothing goat’s milk and witch hazel, it works to calm sensitivity and irritation while brightening the skin.

Want to find out more benefits of witch hazel? Check out if it's safe to use witch hazel on blemishes and acne-prone skin.  

How do you take care of your skin in the winter? What are some of your go-to ingredients? Let us know in the comment section below.  

Main image credit: Getty

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.