Time for a lesson in witch hazel

So you might recall a post I did last year about my newest skin obsession, rosehip oil. I still use it on a daily basis and am still reaping the benefits of elasticity and much-needed moisture to my face. I’ll admit, though, I’ve still been experiencing breakouts… to the point where I actually went out and bought some salicylic acid spot treatment. Yeah… no one ever mentioned your mid-twenties would be spent battling both acne and wrinkles. Ugh. Anyway. It hasn’t been ideal.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago, my mom started going on and on about some wipes she found in the store that she swears by; something she called witch hazel.

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Um. What? When I think of witch hazel, I think of that character on Looney Toons. I honestly thought witch hazel was like a weird name for a supplement, like St. John’s Wort. And let’s just say my mom believes anything Dr. Oz tells her, even after he got sued for giving people false information. Like a ton of times. All that taken into consideration, I did some research, asked around, tried it out for myself… now I can confidently say that after three weeks of use, this shit should be sold by the ton.

Okay, so… what is it?

Witch hazel is a plant. Easy enough. The leaves, bark, and twigs of this plant are used to produce an astringent that can be used for various medicinal purposes. The essential oil is not sold separately as a consumer product, simply because the plant does not produce enough essential oil to make that production viable. Most witch hazel that is on the shelves is distilled with either water or alcohol, depending on the use you want out of it. From what I’ve read, if you get it in liquid form as witch hazel water, that is more for ingesting, and anything distilled with alcohol is used either as a liquid or wet wipe as an astringent centered around skin care.

I’m currently using these towelettes by Dickinson’s, which can now be found at almost any drug store and grocery store in the skin care aisle. The ingredients include: All Natural Witch Hazel (Containing Natural Grain Alcohol 14% and Witch Hazel Extract), Benzethonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice.

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And… what do I do with it?

Let me preface this by saying my research only goes as far as uses for these astringent towelettes.

First and foremost, it is used as a natural astringent. It has the ability to remove excess oil from the skin and to minimize the appearance of pores. This aids in treating and preventing blemishes and acne from forming. I have been using the Dickinson’s wipes every night after removing my makeup and have realized my pores (which are normally huge) have noticeably shrunk down. My make up looks better and better sitting on my skin every day, and even when I go makeup free, I don’t worry as much. Stress and premenstrual break outs are not nearly what they were a month ago.

It also has  skin-tightening  properties and can help reduce swelling on the skin. This makes it ideal for brightening and firming the skin around your eyes, shrinking swollen/varicose veins, minimizing the appearance of bruises, and even relieves hemorrhoid pain. I’ve read that it is like “nature’s Neosporin,” so it can be applied to minor cuts and scrapes to disinfect, stop bleeding, and help the healing process.

As if that wasn’t enough, this stuff is the best after-sun treatment I’ve ever used. Never mind those expensive aloe- and cucumber-based lotions… there is aloe added into the wipes that I buy, but even the all-natural aloe gel I have never gave me these kind of results. After spending hours in the sun one lazy Saturday, I applied it to the redness on my nose and on my thighs where I got more sun than intended. It immediately took the burning sensation and tenderness out, and by the end of the night most of the redness was gone! I woke up the next morning feeling fine. I think this particular experience caused me to be a true believer in this shit.

And there are still more uses! I’ve also read it can relieve the itch from insect bites–though, I still have not tested out this theory yet (only because my Skin So Soft works so well I haven’t really gotten bit much this summer, thankfully). My coworker said when she was younger, that’s what her mom used to use on her for mosquito bites. Another use is razor burn and skin irritation, which I have tested, and it definitely helped in the bikini area. Not any more than using Listerine though (astringent hack, btw). WedMD says that it is “possibly ineffective” for treatment of itchy and inflamed skin (i.e., eczema or similar rash), and hydro-cortisone seems to be a better option. But either way, I’m convinced this stuff is a god-send. Like, why don’t more people know about it?

Is there a downside to this magnificent product?

The only con I’ve found thus far is the smell of the towelettes I use. The “signature botanical scent” they mention on the packaging doesn’t really do it for me.

And honestly, with all these benefits, if that is my only complaint… why are you still reading this? Go to the store and get some!

 

 

My 5 Summer Essentials

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1. Sunscreen

Every summer, I make it my goal to get as tan as humanly possible. I am lucky enough to have Italian in my blood, but I also have a dash of Russian and Slovak, which means I get nasty burns on my pasty white skin in the beginning of summer if I’m not protected properly. I have two must-have sunscreens; one for the face and one for the rest of my body, plus a night-time sunscreen that protects me against those dreadful bugs.

I like to use Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 30 for my face. It works well underneath my makeup, even with my combination skin, and gives me lasting protection all day. I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in my skin since I started using it regularly, too!

For the rest of my body, I recently discovered Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance – a waterproof, SPF 15 sunscreen with built-in shimmer. It’s oil-free, so it leaves no greasy feel and it’s infused with shea butter complex and mango fruit extract so it smells great. It is gentle enough for daily use, and makes you look fabulous lying out in the sun with all that built-in shimmer.

At night I switch to Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard before I go out. It’s SPF30, but since the sun isn’t out, the SPF isn’t my main concern – I love using it for the bug protection! It repels mosquitoes, deer ticks, black flies, sand flies, gnats, no-seeums and biting midges. Mosquitoes especially love me (my aunt tells me it’s because I’m so sweet). Regardless if I am wearing nothing, scented lotion, or ten layers of OFF!, they eat me alive. This is the only bug repellent I have found that actually hides me from those pesky mosquitoes, and while the product is a little bit on the greasy side, I wouldn’t leave my house for the night without it

2. Bronzer

Using SPF 30 on my face and SPF 15 on the rest of my body often leaves my face a shade or two lighter than the rest of my body, which is usually handled with my foundation, but I love finishing off my look with some bronzer to enhance my natural glow. I’m currently using this Baked Mineral Bronzing Powder from Victoria’s Secret, but it’s a little too glittery for how generously I like to apply it to my face. I think I may go back to my drugstore store fave, Physician’s Formula Bronze Booster.

3. Vibrant nail polish

Nothing says summer like neon colored nails that bring out your tan. I am over-obsessed with this color, Too Yacht to Handle, from China Glaze. Currently, though, I am rocking China Glaze Flirty Tankini, a shimmery coral that looks fantastic against my skin tone. China Glaze is my favorite nail polish brand, just because of the built-in hardeners and for how consistent it goes on my nails.

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Too Yacht to Handle by China Glaze. Don’t mind the Game of Thrones and Pinot Noir in the background…

4. Racerback tanks

I’ve never been one that was in on the most current fashion trends, but I’m pretty sure racerbacks are in, right? Regardless if they are or not, I have recently become obsessed. Not only do they show off my back muscles that I have been working oh-so-hard to tone, but they are flattering to my shoulders and arms as well! Perfect active wear for whatever summer adventure you have planned, perfect to throw over your bikini top at the beach, and perfect for a long, fun night of bar hopping. From graphics ones, like this one I picked up at Express (during their 40% off sale, might I add), or these simple ones I ordered on Amazon, they are the quintessential top of the summer.

5. Cheap wayfarer sunglasses

My sunglasses retention rate is nothing to be proud of. Just this past weekend, my friend gave me a pair of awesome shades, and in my hung over haze the next day, I popped the lens right out. My favorite pair before that, I left on a plane going to Vegas. As you can see, I can’t justify spending copious amounts of money on sunglasses when their lifespan is shorter than that of a fly. Hence, my obsession with cheap wayfarers. I think these look good on anyone who has trouble finding a good pair of glasses, and you can literally find them on Amazon for around $1.00. So when I lose this awesome pair of mirrored wayfarers I am currently rocking, I won’t feel as bad to replace them. I’m all about the mirrored ones at the moment—not only does it give me free reign to stare at whoever I want without their knowledge, but I have also been caught using the lenses as a mirror for my own makeup touch-ups. Summer MUST for sure.

Enjoy!

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May your summer take you to a sandy beach with crystal clear water