Witch Hazel is mainly used externally as an astringent cleanser to help remove impurities and help contribute to a clear skin. Witch Hazel contains tannins, which act as antioxidants.
Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae of which there are three species native to North America, and one each in China and Japan. The witch-hazels are deciduous shrubs or (rarely) small trees growing to 10–25 feet (3.0–7.6 m) tall, rarely to 40 feet (12 m) tall. The leaves are alternately arranged, oval, 2–6 inches (5.1–15.2 cm) long and 1–4 inches (2.5–10.2 cm) broad, with a smooth or wavy margin. The genus name, Hamamelis, means "together with fruit", referring to the simultaneous occurrence of flowers with the maturing fruit from the previous year. The leaves and bark of the North American Witch-Hazel Hamamelis virginiana may be used to produce an astringent, also referred to as Witch Hazel, which is used medicinally. This plant extract was widely used for medicinal purposes by American Indians.
Witch Hazel has often been used as a natural health and wellbeing remedy.
The main constituents of the witch hazel extract include calcium oxalate, gallotannins, safrole as well as chemicals found in the essential oil, ie cavacrcol and eugenol.