Beauty: Natural Witch Hazel Hydrosol for Blemish-free Skin, by Kristen Ma

Summer is finally here. While the warmer weather and longer days have been lovely, many people have been coming to me about their frustrations from breaking out due to the start of the new season. Being a practical Pitta, I instantly started brainstorming ways to help pacify these clients’ inflammation and blemishes. The best way to approach a situation like this is to purify the skin without drying it out. Not only is this good practice to keep our skin hydrated and healthy, but also because drying out our skin has been known to promote more blemishes. Yes, we can worsen our acne when we try to treat it that way!

When I had acne I was convinced that drying out my skin was the best way to treat blemished skin. Unfortunately, I found that drying out my skin only gave way to more blemishes as it impedes the skin’s barrier function, provokes increased oil secretion, and causes inflammation.  In my experience the best way to clarify the skin is to bolster its healthiness by nourishing it.  But that’s not to say that you don’t need to purify problem complexions.

When an acne sufferer has small blemishes that do not have a pustular head, moisturizing and rebalancing is often best on its own; but if acne is cystic and has a lot of pus, disinfection is still needed. However, purifying and drying are not one and the same.  Hydrosols from natural astringents such as witch hazel are both gentle and anti-inflammatory as well as anti-bacterial.

Witch hazel is one of my go-to hydrosols for toning cystic acne complexions. The hydrosol is extracted right from the witch hazel plant and is an excellent anti-septic. It disinfects the skin without stripping it, unlike alcohol-based toners and treatments. Using the water extracted from this plant makes for an excellent clarifying toner. It can even be added to a facial mask, charging it with blemish-fighting power, or used as a natural disinfectant for cuts and scrapes.

Even those with sensitive skin can use naturally-astringent witch hazel due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This is important because many blemished skins tend to be hypersensitive as those prone to acne often have a history of using harsh, sensitizing products.  Witch hazel is also a tannin, meaning that it helps seal up the skin. This makes it excellent to use after picking a pimple (not advised but if you do, remember to steam first!) as well as on pustules that have broken.  Applying this plant extract onto open breakouts helps prevent bacterial infection, thus preventing breaking out again while supporting wound healing.

For all these reasons, witch hazel is one of my favourite natural toners for acneic complexions. So, the next time you’re facing a breakout, give balancing and clarifying witch hazel a try. Who says you have to have to be rough to achieve blemish-free skin?


Kristen Ma PhotoKristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up.  She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India.  She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia.  Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company.  Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine.  She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine.

For more information on Kristen, please visit