Witch hazel benefits are well known in the beauty industry. Witch hazel extract is packed with polyphenols, tannins, and natural plant compounds known for their health-promoting properties. This natural astringent can manage a range of skin problems because it exhibits powerful antioxidant and astringent properties. Its many benefits include reducing acne, fighting premature aging, easing hemorrhoids, and soothing eczemai XA chronic condition with periodic flare-ups, leaving you with dry, itchy skin and weakened skin barrier function. and psoriasisi XA non-contagious autoimmune disorder where skin cells accumulate and develop into scales and dry, itchy areas. . In addition, it is a popular herbal ingredient in DIY skin care products and acts as a toner.
This article discusses the benefits of witch hazel, what is witch hazel good for, its importance in skin care, how to use it, and any potential side effects. Keep reading.
What Is It?
A liquid or plant-derived extract with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
What Are Its Benefits?
May help treat skin inflammation, reduce acne, fight signs of aging, and treat ear infections.
Who Can Use It?
People with oily or acne-prone skin, minor skin irritations, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.
Twice daily on oily or acne-prone skin. Only once daily or every other day on sensitive skin.
Avoid applying it on open wounds as it may cause irritation.
In This Article
What Is Witch Hazel Exactly?
Witch hazel is a flowering plant (Hamamelis spp.) that is found in North America, Japan, and China. Also known as winterbloom, it is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 25 feet high. You must be wondering what is witch hazel used for? The extract of witch hazel plant is used as a natural astringent and skin care remedy for a range of problems because it contains polyphenols and tannins that exhibit antioxidant and astringent activity, respectively.
Since witch hazel has been around and used for so long, it is but obvious that it has worked marvelously as a skin care agent. But there are still a few things you need to keep in mind before you use it on your face. Let’s see what they are.
Is Witch Hazel Safe For Skin Care?
Yes, witch hazel is absolutely safe to use as a skin care remedy. However, you need to keep a couple of things in mind before you purchase your first bottle.
What does witch hazel do to your skin? Firstly, since witch hazel essentially acts as a toner, using it in excess could dry out your skin. So, make sure you buy one that is oil-based and does not contain any alcohol to prevent that from happening.
Secondly, as with any product that you’re planning to use on your face, you need to do a patch test with witch hazel on your forearm to make sure you’re not allergic to it.
Now that you know what you need to look out for when picking the perfect bottle of witch hazel, let’s look at the many benefits that this miracle ingredient possesses.
Benefits Of Witch Hazel
Most of witch hazel’s benefits stem from its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. These include reducing acne, fighting premature signs of aging, healing hemorrhoids, and treating the symptoms of serious skin conditions like eczemai XA chronic condition with periodic flare-ups, leaving you with dry, itchy skin and weakened skin barrier function. and psoriasisi XA non-contagious autoimmune disorder where skin cells accumulate and develop into scales and dry, itchy areas. . Let’s take a more in-depth look at the benefits of witch hazel.
1. Acts As An Astringent
An astringent is any compound that helps contract the skin cells and other tissues. Witch hazel is one of nature’s best astringents . It may help treat inflammation associated with various skin issues (1). These may include acne, itching, and even irritation. We will look at each of these in detail further down this list.
2. Reduces Acne/Pimples
Besides being an amazing astringent, witch hazel also has some great antioxidant properties. This double whammy makes it perfect for reducing acne (2). You can use liquid witch hazel directly on your face with a cotton pad.
But if you want to pamper your skin and give the acne-fighting properties of witch hazel an extra boost, here’s a quick home remedy you can try out.
You Will Need
- ½ teaspoon vitamin C powder
- 6 drops of lavender essential oil
- ¼ cup witch hazel
What To Do
- Simply combine all the ingredients and store it in a brown glass bottle.
- Apply this wonderfully fragrant toner to your face after you wash it.
While the vitamin C boosts the healing and astringent properties of witch hazel, the lavender essential oil soothes your skin and makes it smell great. Use this toner every time you wash your face to reduce pimples. But make sure you use this concoction up within a week as the vitamin C will oxidize over time and render it useless.
3. Fights Signs Of Aging And Damage From Sun Exposure
Witch hazel is chock-full of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties that make it perfect for fighting the signs of premature aging like wrinkles, discoloration, and loss of skin elasticity. It does this by tightening pores and protecting the skin from free radical damage. The polyphenols and tannins in witch hazel also act as excellent protectors against the sun damage caused by UV radiation (3).
4. Stops Bleeding Fast
Since witch hazel acts as an astringent that contracts skin cells, it is great for stopping minor cuts and scrapes from bleeding. The tannins present in witch hazel also help reduce pain and swelling and form a protective coating on wounds to prevent the development of infection (4).
5. Heals Bruises
Witch hazel has some fantastic anti-inflammatory properties that help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling. This makes it perfect for reducing bruises (5). Just apply it on your bruise and massage it into your skin to see the results.
6. Relieves Discomfort From Sunburn
The tannins and catechins present in witch hazel are great at reducing the inflammation caused by sunburns. They also soothe the sunburnt skin, reduce swelling, and prevent the skin from flaking and peeling (6).
If your skin is painfully sunburnt and you need something that will soothe and heal it, you can add half a cup of aloe vera gel to one cup of witch hazel and spray it onto the affected area for some instant relief.
7. Treats Eczema And Psoriasis
Anyone who suffers from eczemai XA chronic condition with periodic flare-ups, leaving you with dry, itchy skin and weakened skin barrier function. or psoriasisi XA non-contagious autoimmune disorder where skin cells accumulate and develop into scales and dry, itchy areas. knows how intensely painful the itching they cause is. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 7.5 million US citizens are affected by psoriasis and 1 in 10 people will develop eczema once in their lifetime. It is estimated that 60% will develop eczema in the first year of life and 90% will develop it before 5. Furthermore, out of the 7.5 million who experience psoriasis, 80% experience mild to moderate symptoms. while 20% experience moderate to severe symptoms. The itching, redness, scaling, and burning caused by these two inflammatory skin diseases can be reduced with the help of witch hazel. This relief can only be attributed to the local astringent and anti-inflammatory properties that it possesses (7). You can add French green clay or neem oil to witch hazel to get faster relief.
8. Soothes A Sore Throat
Tried every home remedy in the book to relieve your sore throat but to no avail? Then, it’s time you gave witch hazel a try. Not only does it reduce the swelling and pain, but it also dries out the excess mucus produced in your throat due to the infection.
All you need to do is gargle with a decoction made of witch hazel bark or leaves 2-3 times a day (8). This natural remedy may reduce sore throat symptoms caused by a variety of throat diseases like laryngitisi XAcute or chronic voice box inflammation resulting from strain, irritation, or a viral infection. , tonsillitisi XAn infection that causes the two elliptical tissues (tonsils) in the back of the throat to get inflamed. , and sinusitisi XInflammation in the sinuses, usually brought on by a cold or allergies, characterized by congestion with fluid. .
9. Treats Cold Sores
Cold sores are red blisters that erupt around the mouth as a result of the herpes simplex virus and are often accompanied by an itching and burning sensation. The antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel can help reduce these symptoms quite effectively (9). Just dab it directly on the cold sore with a cotton pad 2-3 times a day.
10. Prevents Diaper Rashes
There’s nothing more distressing for parents than to see their little one’s bottom covered in bright red and itchy rashes. Fortunately, witch hazel has been found to reduce the irritation and redness caused by diaper rash quite significantly due to its anti-inflammatory properties (10).
11. Prevents Razor Burns
Whether you shave your facial, underarm or pubic hair, razor burn is a phenomenon experienced by pretty much everyone. Witch hazel is the perfect ingredient that can come to your rescue here. The astringent and anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel are great for reducing the itchiness and bumps that occur around the irritated hair follicles (11).
12. Helps Reduce Puffy Eyes
When exam season rolls around, or the stress of meeting targets at work gets a hold of you, your eyes are bound to get tired and puffed up. This is because the skin under your eyes is especially thin and delicate. Applying witch hazel around your eyes works like a charm in reducing the soreness and puffiness because of – you guessed it – its astringent qualities (12).
13. Soothes Chicken Pox
Ahh! The dreaded chicken pox! It may happen to you just once in your lifetime, but that’s enough to give you a traumatic memory for the rest of your life. Those pesky pus-filled poxes are itchy, to say the least. The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of witch hazel can help relieve some of this itching and irritation (13).
14. Protects Your Mouth, Lips, And Gums
Bleeding or swollen gums, cold sores, canker sores, and blisters – these are only some of the painful things that our poor mouth, lips, and gums are subjected to. Rinsing your mouth with a witch hazel mouthwash can help reduce the swelling and pain and also fight these infections quite effectively (14). You could also combine it with coconut oil or myrrh and apply it topically to the blisters, sores, or swollen gums for effective results.
15. Removes Blackheads
Blackheads are formed when open pores in your skin get clogged up with dead skin cells or oils. Gross, I know. Witch hazel has astringent properties (15). This helps loosen blackheads and tighten the skin pores to prevent them from coming back.
16. Acts As A Deodorant
Owing to its natural healing properties, witch hazel works quite wonderfully as an organic deodorant when mixed with a few other fragrant essential oils. Here’s what you need:
- 4 tablespoons of witch hazel
- 1 teaspoon of vodka
- 10 drops of geranium essential oil
- 10 drops of cypress essential oil
- ● 3 drops of black pepper essential oil
- 4 drops of lavender essential oil
- 5 drops of neroli essential oil
- 8 drops of bergamot essential oil
- 2 tablespoons of orange flower water
- 2 tablespoons of cornflower water
- Spray bottle
Pour all the ingredients into the spray bottle and shake it vigorously to mix them thoroughly. Spray this all-natural deodorant on your underarms and smell fresh throughout the day!
17. Treats Ear Infections
If you’ve ever experienced an ear infection, you know it hurts in a way that makes it hard for you to function like a normal human being. Ear infections are obviously caused by bacteria. Witch hazel has antibacterial properties (5). Putting a few drops of witch hazel into your ear with a dropper can help alleviate some of the irritation, dissolve the built-up wax, and dry up any pus that may have collected in it.
18. Reduces Stretch Marks
Since witch hazel possesses astringent properties that help the skin cells to contract and tighten, it can be conjectured that it can help fade out stretch marks. This is also the reason pregnant women use it to prevent stretch marks from developing. However, there’s no conclusive evidence to prove that witch hazel can effectively reduce stretch marks.
19. Heals Hemorrhoids
First things first, hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in the anus and rectum that can cause bleeding. Yes, they are as painful as they sound. You may know them by their laymen term ‘piles.’ Applying witch hazel to the affected area (yes, your bum) can help reduce the bleeding and burning sensation due to its anti-inflammatory, astringent, and wound healing properties (16).
20. Reduces The Appearance Of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are gnarly and enlarged veins that appear on the legs and feet and can prove to be painful. The tannin content of witch hazel can help constrict the blood vessels and reduce the swelling caused by the varicose veins (17). Additionally, the gallic acid and essential oils present in it can help soothe the pain. Using cloth compresses of witch hazel is recommended in this case.
21. Moisturizes And Nourishes Dry Skin
You would think that any ingredient that works as an astringent would dry your skin out. But you couldn’t be more wrong! In fact, applying witch hazel to your skin right after stepping out of the shower can help dry out excess oils and lock in the moisture in your skin. However, if you’re using store-bought witch hazel, make sure you are using one without any alcohol in it as it will be counterproductive and make your skin dry.
22. Cleanses Hair And Protects The Scalp
When it comes to hair and scalp care, there’s nothing that witch hazel cannot do. It can tame down frizzy hair and add volume to it. We already know that witch hazel helps dry out excess oils and grease, which makes it great to be used on oily hair. The vasoconstrictive properties of witch hazel also mean that massaging it into your scalp helps increase the blood circulation in it, thus reducing hair fall.
Rebecca, a blogger, shared she likes to use witch hazel to get rid of oiliness in her hair. She writes, “I don’t see this discussed here often, but wanted to share a really helpful tip: witch hazel! I put it in a spray bottle and use it either just before a WO [water only] wash or in-between washes for a pick-me-up (i).”
Any scalp-related issue that you can think of can be combated by the mighty witch hazel. The essential oils present in it nourish the scalp and get rid of dandruff. And that’s not all! Being a natural astringent, it also helps relieve any itchiness you may be experiencing on your scalp.
23. Protects Your Pets From Odor And Bug Bites
Yes, you may love your pets more than anything else in the world, but sometimes, they can smell so bad that you have to push them away, even if it breaks your heart. Dogs and cats start smelling bad when bacteria start developing on their skin or in any wounds. Rubbing some witch hazel on their skin can help get rid of this bacteria and odor effectively. Moreover, it acts as an excellent mosquito repellent for your furry friend (18).
24. Treats Insect Bites
If you live closer to the countryside and are always covered in mosquito and other insects’ bites, it’s time you start using witch hazel. The anti-inflammatory and astringent properties of witch hazel help reduce the swelling and itching of insect bites (19).
Now, I personally don’t mind buying a witch hazel astringent from the store. But if you like to use only 100% organic products and don’t mind going the DIY way, here’s how you can make one right at home.
How To Make Your Own DIY Witch Hazel For Skin Care
What You Need
- ½ pound of witch hazel bark
- ½ liter of water
- 200 ml of vodka or pure grain alcohol
What To Do
- Put the witch hazel bark in a saucepan and pour the water over it.
- Boil the mixture on high heat.
- Once the water starts boiling, lower the heat to a simmer.
- Cover the saucepan with a lid and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the mixture from the stove and let it cool down while the saucepan is still covered.
- Strain out the bark from the tea.
- Add the vodka to the tea to preserve it for longer. But keep in mind that this can dry out your skin. You can skip adding the alcohol entirely, but then, you can use this witch hazel only for a week.
Don’t want to go through the effort of doing it yourself? No problem! Here’s where you can buy witch hazel.
Where And What Witch Hazel Brands To Buy?
Witch hazel is quite easily available in drugstores and on popular online shopping websites like Amazon. If you don’t mind using one with alcohol, you can go for T.N. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel Astringent. Yes, this is the same T. N. Dickinson who started selling witch hazel way back in 1866! If you would like to use a witch hazel that is alcohol-free, I recommend Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner, which also happens to be scent free! Yay!
All of this is well and good. But there are still a couple of things you need to keep in mind before you start using witch hazel.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Witch Hazel?
No, witch hazel does not have any major side effects when applied on the skin or consumed
orally. However, some people could experience irritation due to an allergic reaction, so it’s
always best to do a patch test before you start using it.
It has also been known to cause stomach upset in some people. It’s best to avoid consuming witch hazel orally in large amounts as it contains small amounts of safrole (a chemical potentially linked to cancer) and tannins (toxic compounds) and could possibly cause liver problems.
Pregnant and lactating women should also consult a physician before using or consuming witch hazel.
Infographic: 6 Remarkable Benefits Of Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is an amazing natural skin care ingredient that may help combat inflammation, sores, and infection. The bark and leaves of the plant possess astringent, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties that make it an ingredient you must add to your skin care routine. Check out the infographic below to know more!
Witch hazel benefits are derived from its rich antioxidant and astringent properties. It is widely used in skin care products as it may help reduce acne, heal bruises and sunburns, and soothe cold sores. It has natural anti-aging properties and may help reduce puffy eyes and varicose veins. Additionally, it can help protect and cleanse the scalp. However, do not use it excessively. It may cause skin irritation or stomach discomfort. Since the safety standards have not been determined yet, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a doctor before consuming witch hazel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is witch hazel (astringent) made of?
In its astringent form, witch hazel is an extract made from the leaves and bark of the witch hazel shrub. It mainly consists of calcium oxalate, safrole, gallotannins, carvacrol, and eugenol.
What are witch hazel pads?
Witch hazel pads are cotton pads that are soaked in witch hazel astringent.
Can you use witch hazel on babies?
Yes, you can externally use witch hazel on babies in very small quantities.
Does witch hazel fade dark spots?
Yes, witch hazel is rich in antioxidants and is a natural astringent that can help fade dark spots and pigmentation and encourage brighter skin (20).
Can I use witch hazel on my face every day?
Yes, it is absolutely safe to use witch hazel every day as part of your skin care routine. You can either use it as a toner or in the form of wipes to treat acne.
Can you put witch hazel on your private area?
Yes, witch hazel can be used on your intimate areas too. It helps reduce the pores and bumps after shaving and treats the itchiness caused by irritated hair follicles.
Can witch hazel change hair color?
No study or research suggests that witch hazel may change one’s hair color.
- A witch hazel toner may soothe skin inflammation and reduce signs of aging.
- Consuming a witch hazel decoction can relieve throat-related issues and diseases.
- Witch hazel reduces pain associated with hemorrhoids and heals inflamed veins.
- It increases blood circulation and promotes hair growth when massaged on the scalp.
- Use witch hazel on your pets to treat bacterial infections.
Personal Experience: Source
i. Witch hazel
- “Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- “North American Virginian Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): Based Scalp Care and Protection for Sensitive Scalp, Red Scalp, and Scalp Burn-Out.” Center for Dermatology and Hair Diseases, Zurich, Switzerland.
- “100 Organic Skincare Recipes: Make Your Own Fresh and Fabulous Organic Beauty Products.” Ress, J. USA.
- “Herbal Treatment of Children: Western and Ayurvedic Perspectives.” McIntyre, A. USA.
- “Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells,” National Library Of Medicine
- “Which plant for which skin disease? Part 2: Dermatophytes, chronic venous insufficiency, photoprotection, actinic keratoses, vitiligo, hair loss, cosmetic indications.” University of Freiburg, Germany.
- “The Big Book Of Home Remedies.” Billings, S. USA.
- “Prescription For Herbal Healing.” Balch, P. USA.
- “The Canadian Encyclopedia Of Natural Medicine.” Torkos, S. Canada.
- “36 Healing Herbs: The World’s Best Medicinal Plants.” Johnson, R. USA.
- “Au Naturel: What’s the safest way to remove pubic hair?” Princeton University, USA.
- “Mystical, Medicinal Witch Hazel.” Harvard University, USA.
- “Secrets of Native American Herbal Remedies: A Comprehensive Guide to the Native American Tradition of Using Herbs and the Mind/Body/Spirit Connection for Improving Health and Well-being.” Cichoke, A. USA.
- “The Complete Book of Dental Remedies.” Stay, F. USA.
- “Moisturizers for Acne” Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.
- “Enlarged hemorrhoids: How can you relieve the symptoms yourself?” Institute For Quality And Efficacy In Health Care, Cologne, Germany.
- “Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.” Shenefelt, P. USA.
- “Home Remedies For Your Dog’s Skin Inflammation.” Whole Dog Journal.
- “Witch Hazel.” University of Missouri, USA.
- Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea rose and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells
Discover 7 surprising uses of witch hazel you probably didn’t know of! From treating acne to relieving bug bites, learn how this natural remedy can help you from the insightful video below. Watch it today to know these amazing benefits!