06-23-2015, 10:43 PM
#1
User Info
This seems to be very confusing to me. I always see people asking about witch hazel and how much they like it and how awesome it is. I am in this camp. I use Humphreys and Thayers and enjoy both. But the terminology is what kind of frustrates me.

The Latin term for witch hazel is Hamamelis Virginiana. By itself, it has a very unique smell. Some mention is rooty or bark like smell. It is a bit intense is you don't know what you are in for. Now Humphreys and Thayer's "Witch Hazel" contain many soothing and useful ingredients to tone or act as an astringent or help razor burn. These can include glycerin, aloe vera leaf juice, hydrosols as well as water and alcohol. But looking at the ingredient list, witch hazel is after many other ingredients and is not the main ingredient. My point is, witch hazel is far from the only thing in either of these products.

We don't speak about soap and refer to it as one of the ingredients. You don't call soap "lanolin" or "shea" just because it has it. You call it soap. I guess this is me getting my panties in a wad but would find my inner peace if people would start taking the ingredient list more seriously! Oh the humanity! Biggrin

Most of us are not using pure witch hazel. Many of us are enjoying formulated products which contain witch hazel. I will continue to use both of these products as they work for me and are very nice to use. But simply put, I couldn't go out and harvest some witch hazel, extract, and then get the same thing that comes from Thayers or Humphreys. It would take a lot of other additional ingredients to produce fine products like those.

Cheers!

79 1,338
Reply
 06-24-2015, 02:03 AM
#2
  • clint64
  • Senior Member
  • Atlanta, GA
User Info
Just a note that other brands of witch hazel such as Dickinson do not have the additional ingredients.   This is the ingredient list for Dickinson Witch Hazel:  Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) (All Natural) , Alcohol (14%)and , Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) Extract

7 1,222
Reply
 06-24-2015, 05:55 AM
#3
User Info
The history of witch hazel is fascinating.  It's a native American plant and perhaps the most widespread herbal remedy that we use today, although most people probably don't know that it is one.  Originally it was *just* distilled witch hazel extract, with enough alcohol to preserve it, and was used as an astringent skin wash, although the plant extract without the alcohol has other uses, internally and externally.  The modern preparation, with aloe vera, essential oils/hydrosols, glycerin, etc are a recent innovation designed to have more label appeal.  The OP is right, it's a little misleading to call those preparations "witch hazel", but don't underestimate the value of the actual witch hazel plant and what it contributes to the product.

0 280
Reply
 06-24-2015, 08:42 AM
#4
  • vuk
  • Senior Member
  • Virginia
User Info
When I hear 'witch hazel' I think of the generic drug store stuff which is just alcohol & witch hazel. I use drug store 'witch hazel' as an aftershave probably 90% of the time and really like it.
Thayers is more of a toner as it has more ingredients.

2 517
Reply
 06-24-2015, 08:56 AM
#5
User Info
(06-24-2015, 05:55 AM)Mystic Water Wrote: The history of witch hazel is fascinating.  It's a native American plant and perhaps the most widespread herbal remedy that we use today, although most people probably don't know that it is one.  Originally it was *just* distilled witch hazel extract, with enough alcohol to preserve it, and was used as an astringent skin wash, although the plant extract without the alcohol has other uses, internally and externally.  The modern preparation, with aloe vera, essential oils/hydrosols, glycerin, etc are a recent innovation designed to have more label appeal.  The OP is right, it's a little misleading to call those preparations "witch hazel", but don't underestimate the value of the actual witch hazel plant and what it contributes to the product.

+1

3 1,356
Reply
 06-24-2015, 10:20 AM
#6
User Info
We can get into a pi$$ing contest over this and it's happened on another forum, but I would prefer we not do that.

Actually the product that came first is Distilled Witch Hazel and to be called that, by definition, it must be 11% ethyl alcohol, the rest being what comes out of the distillation process. It is indeed a product all it's own.

The other products that claim to be witch hazel don't meet that definition. Maybe they get around it by not claiming to be distilled witch hazel.

I have no idea what is meant by Witch hazel isn't a product because it most definitely is. Too, to claim that "most" use Thayers and such other stuff... well, I'd like to see those statistics. I have none of the other formulations in my cabinet, but we have had Dickinsons distilled witch hazel in our medicine cabinet for pretty much as long as I've been alive. Before a certain point in my shaving "career" (before KFBR) it was what I frequently used as AS. Lots of folks still do and won't touch the formulations.

Maybe it's the younger shavers who use the Thayers, but I'd almost be willing to wager that the older folks use the distilled witch hazel since it's an old time remedy for many things. Shaving being just one of the uses.

I'm not saying that Thayers shouldn't be used or any such thing, only that the distilled witch hazel also has it's adherents also.

32 6,458
Reply
 06-24-2015, 10:40 AM
#7
  • eengler
  • Administrator
  • South Dakota, USA
User Info
All good information here. The title had me thinking otherwiseSmile

59 4,488
Reply
 06-24-2015, 10:50 AM
#8
User Info
Michelle and Brian, Thanks for the post. I have tried to find the distilled witch hazel at various places where I shop but always come up empty. I only make the mention of Humphreys and Thayers because that is really only what I see shavers mentioning. If I am correct, you are stating that witch hazel extract has gone through a process and should be considered altered or called a product. correct?

I fixed the title to better suit the conversation. Admittedly, maybe it wasn't the most clear title to begin with.

79 1,338
Reply
 06-24-2015, 09:35 PM
#9
User Info
What I meant to say is that witch hazel is a plant that has medicinal uses and that its astringent properties are what makes it good for post-shave use.  It has a long history in America, and the common form that has been sold since the 1800's is a distilled liquid extract of the twigs, bark and leaves that is preserved with a moderate percentage of alcohol.  More recently, products that feature "Witch Hazel" prominently on the label but less prominently in the ingredient list, have come onto the market as toners and astringents with added ingredients with label appeal like glycerin, aloe vera, essential oils and hydrosols.  Some of these use preservatives instead of alcohol to preserve the liquid extract.  You can still buy old-fashioned plain Dickinson witch hazel (extract) from Amazon and some drugstores.  Thayer's is a brand that has more alcohol-free types with a lot of variety in the added ingredients.  I understand your confusion regarding "what is and what isn't witch hazel" but I don't have an opinion as to which type is "better"...I think it depends on what you like.  I just like herbs to get their due appreciation. Heart

0 280
Reply
 06-24-2015, 10:24 PM
#10
User Info
Zac, if you're in the USA I find it at my pharmacy, or even in the supermarket. If you're outside of north America it's an exotic substance.

32 6,458
Reply
 06-24-2015, 10:31 PM
#11
User Info
Witch Hazel is pretty much available in any chemist in the UK. I don't think we have anything like Thayers readily available here though.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

0 126
Reply
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)