Ever since I was a puberty-stricken (and acne-prone) teen, I’ve considered adding witch hazel to my skincare arsenal. But, it wasn’t until Thayer’s came out with an alcohol-free formulation (yippee!) that I decided to finally try it out.
What It’s Supposed To Do
Witch hazel, in itself, has a ton of benefits. But, most notably, it has:
- Astringent properties (meaning it can tighten and cleanse pores)
- Anti-inflammatory properties (meaning it can bring down swelling)
The bottle claims that it can: “cleanse, soften, refresh, and moisturize skin.” So, there are a bunch of other ingredients in the mix (like aloe vera and glycerin) that would promote these functions.
I went down a rabbit hole when writing this article. It seems like Thayers is hell-bent on distancing itself from the “astringent” label. But, tannins—the antioxidants that are essential to witch hazel—are, in fact, astringents. So, if you’re not down with astringency (ahem—Rosacea-prone skin types), you might want to skip this product.
What It Smells Like
There are a bunch of different formulas available—including an unscented version—but I chose “rose petal,” the OG of Thayers’ line.
First off, it’s not perfume-y whatsoever. It kind of smells like rose water (or golab, if you’re from the Middle East)— it’s distinct, yet delicate.
Second, the smell dissipates after about 20 minutes. So, you don’t have to worry about stinking up the place with anything overwhelming.
How It’s Used
If you bought the spray bottle (like me), you have two options:
Option 1: Do as intended and mist that stuff on your face and/or body.
Option 2: Take the road less traveled by saturating a cotton ball in toner and swiping it across your face and/or body.
The first option is more refreshing (and bodes well for the lazy type—you know who you are), while the second option is more cleansing.
You can use it up to 2 times a day after cleansing. Or, if you’re using an exfoliant in your routine, after your exfoliant.
Oh and some people use it as a setting spray. Since I don’t wear makeup on the regular, I can’t verify if this would actually work or not.
Spray bottle side note: The packaging worked as intended. And it didn’t leak. I just think I would’ve been happier if I bought the normal bottle (as opposed to the spray bottle). That way, I could control where this stuff actually goes—I definitely didn’t like that it got on my lips and I was constantly eating this stuff.
Did It Work?
But before getting into the nitty gritty of it all, I have something to share with you:
I have a cluster of closed comedones on my 3-finger forehead.
And yes, I’ve tried a lot of remedies (including Nizoral) to get rid of them. But, sometimes, I feel like those remedies are too harsh for my sensitive, easily-over-exfoliated skin. And, quite frankly, I don’t want to trade-in closed comedones for dehydrated skin.
That’s where Thayers Witch Hazel comes in.
After trying it out for about 2½ weeks, everything came to a head and I was FINALLY able to extract those pesky suckers! And when all was said and done, I was left with a smooth-to-the-touch forehead.
I don’t know exactly why this toner did the trick. But I suspect it’s because three of its ingredients (witch hazel, aloe vera, and grapefruit seed extract) have antifungal and antibacterial properties. They must’ve knocked my (seemingly fungal) acne right out of the ballpark.
What I Liked
- Seriously cheap.
- Reduced inflammation.
- Skin felt less oily.
- Smells great.
- Brought closed comedones to a head.
- Reduced inflammation from a bug bite.
- Helps with the appearance of my hand veins.
What I Didn’t Like
Using it twice daily (in both my morning and nighttime routines), dried me out.
Luckily, when I cut back to a once-a-day application, my skin started acting normal again—it wasn’t too oily and it wasn’t too dry.
Ingredients (straight from the bottle):
- Purified Water
- Certified Organic Witch Hazel Ext Blend (Hamamelis Virginiana Extract (Witch Hazel))
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Filet of Aloe Vera)
- Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Flower Water
- Fragrance (Natural Rose)
- Citric Acid
- Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract
To be honest, I’m disappointed in Thayers.
At first, I was going to copy-paste its ingredient list from Amazon. But, I noticed that the ingredients on the bottle and the ingredients on Amazon’s profile were a bit different.
So, I tried Target. And, guess what? The ingredients didn’t match-up there either.
Okay, onto Thrive Market—the same thing happened.
If, by any chance, Thayers is reading this, please fix the issue.
Who Should (And Shouldn’t) Use It
Rosacea sufferers should be cautious when it comes to witch hazel. Well, they should be cautious when it comes to any and all astringents. The thing is, astringents can be drying. You certainly don’t want to add that to an already dry, damaged, rosacea-prone skin barrier.
If you don’t have rosacea, will this toner work for you?
Maybe, maybe not.
You see, rose flower water (aka rosa centifolia) is a pretty common allergen (source). So, if you’re the kind of person who’s allergic to seemingly everything, you might want to exercise caution when using this particular formula.
Otherwise, if you don’t fall-in with those two groups—rosacea-prone and allergy-prone—I think it would be gentle enough for everyday use.
Where To Purchase Thayers Witch Hazel
Click here to check it out on Amazon where it has a whopping 10,000 reviews and counting.
Plus, on Amazon, you can peruse through other formulations—the ones that not usually available in-store:
Overall, this is a solid product that’s going to stay in my arsenal for a good long while. That being said, now that I’m done with the review, I don’t think I’ll use it every day anymore (because it doesn’t quite fit into my 4-step, ultra-lazy skincare routine). Rather, it’s something I would use when I want to control my oiliness or when I want to prevent ingrown hairs after shaving, waxing, and/or tweezing.