DIY Witch hazel tonic for healthy skin
Since it’s Halloween, how to make and use witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, seemed like a good topic. Witch hazel is a beautiful plant whose mottled yellow leaves drop in October, and are followed by first blooms of this plant’s season. Witch hazel’s somewhat gangly but beautiful and mysterious yellow flowers bloom from September through December.
Witch hazel is native to North America. The most commonly held explanation for the name witch hazel is that “Witch” is derived from the Middle English word “wych,” a word for shrubs with pliant, bendable branches like witch hazel. Native people used witch hazel in a number of ways, including treating skin ulcers, soothing sore muscles, and treating coughs and colds. It was also used in dowsing, a type of divination for finding water, which fearful people may consider witchcraft.
Today, witch hazel is most widely used as a skin tonic for treating acne, sunburn, razor burn, for diaper rash and for treating hemorrhoids and varicose veins. I use it anytime I feel especially grimy, like after coming home from grocery shopping or after getting home from the airport.
Witch hazel is easy to identify, especially in the fall. The leaves are round and the leaf edge is wavy. And of course in the fall, the small yellow leaves will be blooming.
To make your own tonic,
- Collect enough twigs so that when the twigs are cut into 2 inch pieces they amount to about a cup of twigs.
- Add the twigs to a small sauce pan and cover with about 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a slow boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Strain the twigs off the tea and let cool.
- Measure the tea. Add about half that amount of grain alcohol or vodka to the tea.
- Add about 2T lemon juice.
- Add essential oils you enjoy!
- Store in an airtight glass container in a cool dark place.
Apply witch hazel tonic to a cotton ball and dab on your skin.