From cleaning your home to maintaining healthy skin, witch hazel is a bit of a wonder ingredient in our eyes. Most people have a bottle of witch hazel in their cupboards, and our ancestors did, too - witch hazel has actually been used for hundreds of years for treating all sorts of ailments, from diarrhea to coughs, colds, and even cancer.
In case you were wondering, witch hazel (hamamelis virginiana) is derived from the witch hazel plant (it really is that simple). This plant is indigenous to the United States, and Native Americans have been using it for years as a natural medicine to restore health.
Though most people are familiar with witch hazel for its skincare benefits nowadays, there are so many alternative uses and benefits of this household staple that you've probably never heard of. Witch hazel may help with a variety of common problems, so stay tuned if you're keen to learn the best benefits of witch hazel for your home and health.
1. Clean Surfaces
Who said witch hazel could only be used for health purposes? It also works really well as a natural cleaning solution for wiping down your surfaces. If you're not a fan of chemicals, or you simply don't have the right cleaning products to hand, witch hazel can come to your rescue.
Simply combine witch hazel extract with a little lemon juice and some warm water to create a fresh, natural home cleaner that can be used on glass, marble, and metal.
2. Minimize Scars
Unsurprisingly, there are many benefits of witch hazel that relate to skincare. Witch hazel can help to reduce scars and stretch marks thanks to its astringent properties, tightening skin and make scars less noticeable.
It can also help to decrease any redness associated with a scar, especially when combined with aloe vera, another scar-reducing natural beauty ingredient.
3. Remove Makeup
Ran out of your usual makeup remover? Or looking for a more environmentally friendly way to remove your makeup? Simply apply witch hazel to your skin - it works just as well.
Witch hazel is actually better than some of the popular cosmetic products offered to remove makeup, as it doesn't leave an oily coat on the surface of your skin after removing makeup. Just add a little witch hazel to a cotton pad and swipe - you'll be surprised at how efficient it is.
4. Treat Cold Sores
Cold sores are up there with the most annoying skin conditions of all. If you've ever had a cold sore, you'll know how it can affect your confidence, and you've probably tried everything to get rid of it.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, witch hazel is a great (and safe) natural remedy for treating cold sores effectively. It does this by encouraging cold sores to dry out and heal at a faster rate.
5. Treat Hemorrhoids
Sorry - no-one wants to think about hemorrhoids, but they're a common complaint amongst humans, so it's helpful if you know how to treat them. You can apply witch hazel to your skin if you're dealing with hemorrhoids, and it should reduce discomfort and irritation and relieve burning.
Because witch hazel has anti-inflammatory properties, it may also be able to soothe swelling. Just add it to a cloth or a cotton ball and carefully apply it to your skin.
6. Soothe Razor Burn
Shaving with a razor, especially while in a rush, can often result in razor burn. While this is hardly life-threatening, it can be itchy and painful, and may even lead to infection.
As witch hazel is a natural anti-inflammatory, it can soothe the common symptoms of razor burn, including redness, itchiness, and irritation. Try to look for alcohol-free witch hazel in this case, which won't irritate your skin further.
7. Reduce Minor Bleeding
It might sound like something too old-fashioned to bother with, but there's a reason why people still use witch hazel to put a stop to minor skin bleeds - it really does help.
Simply soak a cotton ball with a little alcohol-free witch hazel and apply it to the bleeding skin. Because of its astringent nature, witch hazel can pull the skin together and promote blood clotting, decreasing blood supply to the area. Just make sure to only use this as a skin care solution for minor bleeds.
8. Minimize Stretch Marks
We've already mentioned how using witch hazel may minimize scars and stretch marks over time, but it has specific properties worth mentioning when it comes to stretch marks alone.
Witch hazel can support healthy collagen, and many people, including pregnant women, apply witch hazel to their bodies to prevent stretch marks from forming. It can also heal the skin around existing stretch marks, tightening skin and reducing their appearance.
9. Treat Acne
One of witch hazel's most popular skin care benefits is its ability to treat acne. Witch hazel may help treat acne on oily skin in particular, as it's a natural astringent, and can dry out acne blemishes.
You can rest assured that applying witch hazel to your skin won't bring about any side effects, as it's non-toxic and chemical-free. It's also an anti-bacterial, which means it'll keep the skin surface healthy and prevent the accumulation of the bad stuff.
10. Tighten Eye Bags
Some of us are more prone to eye bags than others. If you're the sort of person who, regardless of sleep quality, constantly battles with under-eye bags, witch hazel may be your best DIY solution.
We know by now that witch hazel contains astringent ingredients that tighten the skin, helping to minimize the appearance of acne scars and stretch marks. Well, it works the same way when you use a little witch hazel under your eyes.
11. Soothe Insect Bites
Witch hazel isn't only effective in treating skin conditions - it can also be used to soothe bug bites. Simply soak a cotton pad in witch hazel and hold it against the area.
By soothing inflammation, witch hazel will soothe itching, pain, and any other unenjoyable side effects associated with bug bites. You'll get extra soothing properties if you store your witch hazel in the fridge beforehand. You can even use witch hazel to soothe a poison ivy rash.
12. DIY Deodorant
Commercial deodorants might do the job, but they often have a high chemical content and aren't the best for the environment. You can make your own effective deodorant with witch hazel, thanks to its anti-bacterial astringent properties.
This means it'll tighten your skin and remove excess oil when it's applied. To use witch hazel instead of your usual deodorant, just apply some to a cotton pad and swipe under your arms and in any other locations where sweat accumulates.
13. Treat Dry Skin
From what you now know about witch hazel, you probably wouldn't imagine it'd be any good at treating dry skin - but it actually is! The trick is in your timing - it's best to use on your skin straight after showering to help lock in the moisture from your shower water.
If your dry skin causes itchiness, the anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel should soothe skin just as effectively as a medical product.
14. Reduce Varicose Vein Swelling
Swelling from varicose veins isn't pleasant, but it's easy enough to treat with the right tools to hand. Witch hazel is particularly good in reducing this unpleasant side effect from varicose veins.
Just take a washcloth and soak it in witch hazel, then lay it on the problem area to help reduce swelling and associated pain. Aside from its ability to reduce inflammation, when applied to the skin, witch hazel will also shrink the size of varicose veins temporarily.
15. Organic Toner
Witch hazel toners can help to remove oil, debris, pollutants, and dirt from your skin. This makes it a fantastic organic toner to use in place of your current toner - which probably costs a whole lot more and doesn't offer any additional benefits!
It uses all-natural ingredients, so there's no need to worry about your skin disagreeing with witch hazel, but you may want to use alcohol-free witch hazel as a toner if you don't want to dry out sensitive skin.
16. Soothe Diaper Rash
Back in our ancestors' time, witch hazel was often used to treat diaper rash. While people prefer to use products from shops nowadays, if you're running out of your usual cream or your baby's diaper rash simply isn't healing fast enough, you can use alcohol-free witch hazel for the same purpose.
Dilute with water to make it safe for using on your baby's sensitive skin. It should soothe the inflammation in no time.
17. Scalp Cleanser
If your scalp accumulates dandruff, or you suffer from eczema or psoriasis on your scalp, try using witch hazel as a DIY scalp cleanser. Simply massage witch hazel int your scalp, then use your usual shampoo and conditioning products to wash your hair.
You can also make use of witch hazel as a between-washes hair cleanser, reducing the amount of money you need to spend on hair care products.
18. Jewelry Cleaner
Just as you can use witch hazel to clean your home's surfaces, you can also use it to restore your jewelry's shine. Witch hazel's anti-bacterial properties mean it'll remove any lingering bacteria content, and it'll also cut through the oily buildup that may have come from your skin.
If you like the idea of restoring your jewelry to a like-new condition, don't shell out on expensive cleaning products - just soak it in a glass of witch hazel overnight.
19. Mood Booster
Combining witch hazel with your favorite essential oils can produce a mood-boosting concoction that you can use as an air freshener for your home. It's a non-toxic room spray, and you have much more flexibility when it comes to scent than if you were to buy a product from a supermarket.
Simply combine half a cup of witch hazel with a cup of water and about 15 drops of an essential oil of your choice. Soom good scent options include tea tree, lavender, cedar and lemon.
So there you have it - there are so many uses of witch hazel, and so many benefits to be had. From treating acne to reducing inflammation, cleaning your home to restoring jewelry, witch hazel really can do it all. It's widely available, too, so you won't have trouble finding it if you don't already have it in your cupboards at home.
As always, remember to seek medical advice before using witch hazel if you're unsure - and always opt for an alcohol-free witch hazel product when you can. Witch hazel is safe for most people, but it may cause stomach upset if you take it by mouth.