In a world inundated by hundreds of brands of cosmetic products, finding facial skin care products that a) work, b) are affordable and c) aren’t full of chemicals can be very difficult indeed!
To be sure, there are a lot of really excellent skincare products out there for guys. Brands like Aveda and Burt’s Bees have made the use of natural, chemical-free ingredients part of their company mission – and their products smell really, really good (don’t worry – we’re talking about good man smells, not just lavender and rose petals). But let’s face it – using these products day in day out can get expensive, and if you’re on a budget AND dealing with sensitive or acne-prone skin, they’re oftentimes just not an option.
Introducing: witch hazel. We’ve talked about witch hazel a little in some of our previous posts, but we thought this miracle skin care product deserved a closer look.
What is witch hazel?
Witch hazel is a flowering shrub (hamamelis hamamelidaceae) native to North America, China and Japan. The bark and leaves on this plant are astringent, meaning they have special topical medicinal qualities. The clear, water-like extract taken from the bark and leaves is the witch hazel you can buy in drugstores.
What makes witch hazel so special?
Astringents are natural chemical compounds which tend to shrink body tissues and blood vessels – in the case of witch hazel applied to the skin, it can dry up excessive oils, close membranes and open pores. Because it is a plant extract, witch hazel is completely natural and harmless when used topically. It’s also easy to manufacture, making it the cheapest skin toner on the market. In the past, drugstores sold witch hazel in generic bottles for $2-3 – the same price as hydrogen peroxide. As consumers caught on to its excellent uses as a skin care product, these generic bottles were replaced with more expensive branded witch hazel bottles (such as Dickensons) selling for $5-7, but even with the price hike, it’s still a steal.
How does witch hazel work, and what skin conditions can it treat?
If it’s a common skin problem, witch hazel can probably help or cure it. Witch hazel is most commonly used as a basic facial toner, but its skin care uses range far and wide.
Facial cleansing. Witch hazel has the unique ability to clean skin pores and dry up excessive oil without leaving skin too dry. For guys with healthy, normal skin, witch hazel can often replace a daily cleanser. For guys with oily or acne prone skin, swabbing witch hazel throughout the day is a great way to quickly wipe off excessive oil without the hassle of a full face wash.
Acne treatment. Because astringents are great at shrinking skin tissues and blood vessels, witch hazel is a champion at closing up large pores and relieving swollen whiteheads. By making pores smaller and soaking up grease, witch hazel prevents further acne without drying the skin excessively. Before spending $100s on topical acne medication, try swabbing your face with witch hazel three times each day.
Scars and stretch marks. Witch hazel is often used by pregnant women to prevent stretch marks, but it can be used to help loose or excessive skin around scars or stretch marks to tighten, helping to minimize the scar.
If you’re strapped for cash but don’t want to sacrifice skin care, grab a bottle of witch hazel and see what it does for you.