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Witch Hazel Review

Can This $2 Toner Really Improve Your Complexion?

A couple of weeks ago, I headed to Bliss for a much-needed facial. (Seriously, my skin was so oily that I thought Sarah Palin might show up at my doorstep with a "Drill, baby, drill" sign.) After some pore-purging, my esthetician recommended that I use witch hazel as a toner. I hadn't done this since my junior high days, but I figured it was worth a try.

Witch hazel is a flowering plant that is distilled into the astringent you'll find at drugstores. It's cheap — usually just two or three dollars for a huge bottle of generic witch hazel, which is what I've been using. Two weeks into this toning experiment I've made a few observations. For the pros and cons, read more.

Here's what I've discovered about being a witchy woman.

The good: It never fails to sweep up more dirt after cleansing. Plus, I have fewer blackheads and less redness than usual. Pores look smaller right after application. Even though the solution is 14% alcohol, it doesn't sting or leave my skin feeling too tight.


The bad: The smell is unpleasant, but it goes away in a minute. It might be too drying for non-oily complexions.

Overall, I'm pleased with this simple toner. It doesn't perform miracles, but it has definitely improved my skin for very little money. Not to sound like the kid from Better Off Dead, but it's just two dollars. Can't beat that. I'm curious: Have you used witch hazel, and if so, have you seen any results?

Photo by Flickr User Lady-bug

Join The Conversation
marleneb marleneb 7 years
I have picked up and looked at witch hazel almost every time I have gone to the drugstore, I've just always been scared to use it. But since it has gotten some good reviews on here I may actually pick some up. Thanks!
Curvatude Curvatude 7 years
i am not super oily but witch hazel is my only toner. i love it. i also saw a witch hazel soap at merz apothecary
frenjalibi frenjalibi 7 years
I used to use it a few years ago during summer and it worked great for me. I have oily skin and it helped me look less shiny.
GummiBears GummiBears 7 years
I got my mother hooked on Thayers witch hazel with rosewater. I like and also tried the one with lavendar and lemon. Some are better in the winter and some are better to use in the summer.
jennythereader jennythereader 7 years
@ summerjams: what I do is add 10-15 drops of peppermint oil, and 5ish drops of tea tree oil. They float on the surface, so you need to remember to shake the bottle before you use it, but it makes the witch hazel smell so much better. Depending on the amount of witch hazel you might need to add more oil before you get to the end of the bottle.
summerjams summerjams 7 years
can we actually add essential oil to rid of the smell?
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
I just started using it too, and I love it! I am all for natural beauty products.
jennythereader jennythereader 7 years
What I do to deal with the smell is add a few drops of Peppermint essential oil. You have to shake it before you use it, but it smells a lot nicer.
cupidpout cupidpout 7 years
Does the alcohol affect how it works on pores? Cause I have normal skin with majorly clogged pores, do you think it would be too drying?
ahles ahles 7 years
Great grandma was big into witch hazel, so we kids all grew up with it. Best thing in the world for a hot row house without AC was witch hazel and a fan. Anyhow, even with oily skin regular witch hazel is far too drying due to the alcohol. It's more expensive, but there are alcohol-free witch hazels around that are brilliant.
risqueredhead risqueredhead 7 years
I love witch hazel. It's a little too drying for me in the winter, but it just gets so much extra gunk off my face, and it's dirt cheap.
Beauty Beauty 7 years
Filmgirl81, good point. It's used in a lot of more expensive toners. They smell nicer, but since the stink goes away (and as starangel82 says, you get used to it) I'm not sure it's worth dropping another $20 just for a nicer scent.
greentea14 greentea14 7 years
I'm gonna give this a try !
Ajh Ajh 7 years
Witch Hazel is the only toner I've managed to use without having tight skin and MORE breakouts than usual. It doesn't stop them all from happening but that's probably more a me still reflexively touching my face way too much.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 7 years
I started using witch hazel as a toner when I noticed the active ingredient in my favorite toner is witch hazel. Might as well just user the cheaper, purer version
starangel82 starangel82 7 years
I've been using Witch Hazel for about a year now. I'll never go without the stuff again. You get used to the smell after using it for a while. Plus, in addition to being a great toner, witch hazel is good for minor scrapes, cuts, and skin irritations.
Beauty Beauty 7 years
Kinky, I'm glad to hear it's working for you. How long have you been using it? Kizzy, you can find it at any drugstore, yep. I know Target, Rite-Aid, etc have their own store brands.
Kizzyonline Kizzyonline 7 years
I want to give it a try! So every drugstore sells it?
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
i love witch hazel!
KinkyKurlyQueen KinkyKurlyQueen 7 years
I just purchased some at my local Walmart for under $2. My skin is oily and acne prone but, this stuff keeps my face oil free longer and has reduce my breakouts a ton. Love this stuff!!! And I agree I it may be too drying for normal to dry skin.
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