If you’re on TikTok or you pay attention to skincare experts, you know just how frowned-upon witch hazel is by many in the beauty community. Said to dry out the skin in excess and increase acne, brands like Thayers facial toner, for example, have taken heat for their products. That said, is witch hazel in haircare just as controversial?
The household ingredient isn’t as commonly heard of in hair products as it is skincare, but it certainly has a presence. Curious to know the pros and cons and where an expert stands on the matter, we reached out to Philip B. The hair brand founder incorporates the popular household item in his White Truffle Shampoo and Conditioner, and Peppermint Avocado Scrub. Keep reading for everything he told us about witch hazel in haircare.
Mane Addicts: In general, what makes up witch hazel and why is it a common household product?
Philip B.: Witch Hazel has a high antioxidant quotient as well as effective antibacterial properties. Witch Hazel is from deep in the woody core of the Hamamelidaceae tree family. There are several varieties from different parts of the world. The one we use in our products is from the U.S., but we usually call it Winter Bloom, which is much easier to say. It’s an all-around good natural antiseptic, and it neutralizes odor so it has multi-purpose benefits.
MA: Why do people use witch hazel in beauty products?
PB: It’s all about its natural astringent properties. I used it on my face for years! I always traveled with witch hazel cleansing cloths for my face on the plane—but also used them to wipe down my tray, seat and the whole area. It makes your skin happy and it can help eliminate bacteria, grime or environmental factors on the surface. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, it has circulatory benefits and it can balance and calm the skin. It makes for a great gentle natural botanical toner. Put some into a spray bottle with a little rose water and a drop of essential oil, and you have a homemade toner ready to refresh all day.
MA: What are the uses for witch hazel in haircare, specifically?
PB: It’s really all about scalp care. Our scalp is like the dermis on our face, only thicker, with more sebaceous systems and hundreds of thousands of larger pores [follicles]. Hair is dead and only gets what you give it, but the scalp is a living, breathing environment in and of itself. Witch Hazel acts as a toner, purifying the scalp. It’s a gentle refresher for almost all types of skin and scalp, but specifically those who have a tendency for a more oily scalp and overactive sebaceous glands. It helps fight inflammation, improves flaking and oily scalp, and provides some calming relief. But like with most ingredients—even superstars—it’s not for everyone, and the best blend of botanicals produces the best results.
MA: Witch hazel has a bad rep in the skincare community—does the same hold true for haircare? What are the pros and cons to using witch hazel in hair products?
The only real rub can be if you have very sensitive, highly reactive skin. For some, witch hazel can be too harsh. Its pH is slightly acidic, so for some it can be irritating. This would apply to either scalp or face.
MA: Is there anything else you want to add on this witch hazel in haircare?
PB: Personally, I’m a fan for sure. But, just because some is good, more is not necessarily better. And our scalp and hair is often changing so you need to assess your condition and change out your products depending on your needs. It’s a balanced diet. I mean you can’t live on sweet potatoes alone, no matter how good they are for you. The right product or ingredient today may not be the right product for your scalp or hair condition tomorrow. Moderation, blending of the right ingredients and monitoring keeps hair and scalp healthy, hair luscious and looking vibrant.
I incorporated Witch Hazel into my new Peppermint Avocado Scrub. It has Arnica flower Extract and Witch Hazel that soothes, balances and energizes literally breathes new life back into a dull dry the scalp! My Peppermint Avocado Scalp Scrub gently polishes to remove dirt, oil, product and environmental buildup to create bouncy, luscious hair of your dreams. It was carefully curated with ingredients and Witch Hazel is important in the blend to make the magic happen. Increasing circulation, it helps oxygenate and deliver the goodness of other ingredients into the scalp.