If you’ve been searching for new additions to your naturel skincare routine, you might have noticed that witch hazel is starting to make a comeback.
It’s best known for shrinking pores and easing inflammation, and witch hazel is already a key ingredient in a variety of beauty products. The medicinal anti-inflammatory and anti-viral qualities of witch hazel make popular for use in topical skincare.
But is witch hazel worth the hype—and more importantly, is it worth adding it to your medicine cabinet? This video will cover everything you need to know about the potential skin benefits of the natural formula.
First off, what is witch hazel, exactly?
Witch hazel itself is a tree-like plant indigenous to North America and parts of Asia. Of course, when you use witch hazel in a bottle, that’s witch hazel extract, which is taken from either the bark or leaves of the plant. Once it’s harvested, the bark and leaves are distilled to bring out the active chemical compounds of the plant.
Like most other natural remedies, witch hazel is pretty low-cost and easy to get your hands on, and, in general, it doesn’t cause adverse effects. This means if you’re looking to keep your skin happy and healthy, it might be worth giving it a whirl—especially if your skin is on the oilier side.
The benefits of witch hazel for your skin
Now we know the basics about witch hazel, it’s time to get into more detail about its skincare benefits. Here’s what research and studies have found out about witch hazel so far.
1. It can ward off signs of aging
If you’re looking for a natural way to firm up your skin and slow down signs of aging, like scars, redness, discoloration, dryness and puffiness around the eyes, witch hazel might be the perfect natural solution for you. It tightens skin and is protective against skin cancer, melanoma and other damage caused by UV light, thanks to its protective polyphenols and tannin antioxidants. These prevent the spread of melanoma cells and help protect healthy skin cells into older age.
You can use witch hazel in place of irritating chemical anti-aging products that are known to alter oil production and increase skin dryness. Witch hazel has been shown to help protect collagen and skin elasticity just as well as many commercial beauty products – and as an added bonus, it comes at a fraction of the price.
Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it great for maintaining the skin’s elasticity, while also helping you deal with the effects of environmental stress on your skin. And because using witch hazel for your pores helps them look smaller, this can make your skin appear more even.
You can easily blend witch hazel with vitamin E oil and other natural ingredients to make your own homemade anti-aging serum. Then apply it straight to discoloured skin, bruises, old acne marks and bites to help fade their appearance and reverse damage. For the best results, combine it with other skin-healthy oils like evening primrose, frankincense and tea tree oils.
2. It can tighten pores
Witch hazel is a rich source of constricting compounds that make the proteins inside skin cells close in. While this result won’t last forever, it’ll temporarily makes your pores appear smaller without drying out your skin.
Try dabbing a bit of witch hazel onto your skin with a cotton bud before bed, then leave it to dry for five minutes. Don’t rinse it off once it’s dried.
For extra healing benefits, apply another round of witch hazel to the same areas. Witch hazel is gentle enough that it can be used daily in place of an alcohol-based toner.
3. It can clear acne
Witch hazel is extremely antioxidant-rich, thanks to its tannins content, which act as a natural astringent on the skin that can help to soak up excess oil. And since witch hazel is a natural cleanser, it’s capable of reducing bacteria growth on the skin, and can speed up the time needed to heal infections or scabs.
Another benefit for sensitive skin is that witch hazel helps stop sweating, and reduces the development of blackheads or whiteheads, which can contribute to breakouts and tempt you to pick at your skin. You can avoid irritating acne products altogether and instead use witch hazel, which should lower the severity of blemishes forming under your skin and prevent blackheads caused by oil build-up in pores.
How long it takes for witch hazel to clear acne depends on how severe someone’s acne is. It can take effect in just several days, but it could also take several weeks.
To try it out for yourself, put several drops of witch hazel directly on your skin wherever you notice a spot forming or where acne tends to break out. It’s even more effective when you use it in combination with other antibacterial agents, like tea tree oil, coconut oil or apple cider vinegar.
Dab witch hazel on your skin with a clean cotton ball or cotton pads several times per day anywhere you experience irritation. Make sure to start slowly and giving your skin time to adjust.
4. It can reduce acne scars
Witch hazel is also effective in reducing scarring left over from previous acne breakouts, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Applying witch hazel to your skin can even help stop swelling and redness if you already picked at your acne, though it may sting a little if your acne is red or inflamed.
It can also curb signs of past skin irritations that may have caused a rash or redness, and deal with skin infections that could result from picking at acne.
5. It can soothe puffy eyes
Again because of its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, skin experts think that witch hazel can reduce puffiness and soothe the under-eye area, which could be caused by aging, dehydration, stress, allergies, sinus problems, or fluid retention. Its astringent properties also enable it to provide a tightening effect to the skin just beneath the eye.
To reduce puffy eyes with witch hazel, apply a solution of witch hazel diluted in a carrier oil, like coconut oil, to the area around your eyes before bed, being careful not to get any in your eyes. Leave to dry, then wash your skin carefully the next morning.
6. It can prevent ingrown hairs and rashes
After shaving, you can apply witch hazel to any part of your body to stem bleeding from nicks or cuts, soothe razor burn, and prevent ingrown hairs from forming. Being a fantastic natural antibacterial agent, witch hazel can also be used to prevent bacteria growth and infections within your hair follicles after shaving.
It’s not just shaving you can use witch hazel for, either. Some people also like to use witch hazel along with other healing essential oils on the skin after waxing, to help reduce pain, swelling, and bleeding.
7. It can stop pet odour and biting bugs
Witch hazel can stop excess bacteria from forming on the surface of your pet’s skin, which can lead to that characteristic cat or dog smell. The formula is just as safe for our pets as it is for us, as it’s non-irritating and natural.
As an added bonus, witch hazel can also help prevent pets from being bitten by bugs, as it’s known for its ability to repel mosquitoes and other insects.
8. It can treat insect bites, irritations, and scabs
Take a look at your bug repellent spray if you have some – there’s a good chance it contains witch hazel. If you want to know how to quickly get rid of mosquito bites, witch hazel has proven effective at reducing the effects of bug bites, such as pain and swelling that’s caused by stings, allergies, and irritations.
Some studies have found that applying witch hazel cream to skin irritations can work just as well as synthetic chemical creams. It can also be used to help speed up healing scabs or minor cuts because witch hazel extract contains isopropyl alcohol, which is another natural disinfecting ingredient that kills bacteria and helps prevent infections.
9. It can shrink varicose veins
The astringency of witch hazel makes it an effective treatment for varicose or spider veins. As a vasoconstrictor, it shrinks and tightens veins. If your varicose veins give you pain, the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of witch hazel should help you to feel more comfortable.
To use witch hazel on your varicose veins, for the most soothing application, first store a bottle of the formula in the refrigerator for several hours to chill. When you’re ready, soak a small towel in the cold witch hazel and place it on your leg as a compress.
Over time, the witch hazel should constrict your swollen veins and ease soreness and discomfort in your legs, feet, and ankles. You’ll need to be patient, though, as this treatment can take several weeks of regular use to have a full effect.
How to use witch hazel
The most popular way to use witch hazel extract is to dilute it with a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, and then apply it directly to your skin.
As long as your skin doesn’t become too dry or irritated, daily use of witch hazel topically is safe for most people. Witch hazel toner, pads, gel, extract, and ointments can be applied directly to your skin several times per day if needed.
How to choose the best witch hazel for your skin
Witch hazel is normally extracted with alcohol to create an astringent toner, but if the alcohol content is too high for your skin, it could end up drying out your skin. Dermatologists recommend choosing a witch hazel product that’s alcohol-free, especially if you’re planning on making the ingredient a regular in your skincare routine.
It’s also worth looking for witch hazel products that contain hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid or aloe vera, which can prevent the solution from being too drying on your skin.
Before you use witch hazel, be sure to read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any ingredients that you’re sensitive or allergic to. If you’re not sure, test the product on a small area, like the back of your hand, to see if a reaction occurs before using it on your face.
When you consider all of the benefits of witch hazel, it’s easy to see why it’s coming back in trend as a natural skincare product today. You can pick up your own bottle of the stuff from your local supermarket or health store, or shop online for a bigger variety.
While it’s generally very safe, possible witch hazel side effects include skin dryness, an allergic reaction, upset stomach when taken internally, and potentially liver-related problems if used in high amounts. Make sure you consult your doctor if you’re unsure whether witch hazel is for you.
You can find the best Witch Hazel products below-
- A pore-perfecting toner which purifies skin in one, multi-benefit step
- Made from 100% natural, distilled witch hazel for our exclusive, plant-to-bottle formula
- Removes and balances oil while gently soothing and refreshing, all without overdrying
- Dermatologist recommended witch hazel and perfect for sensitive skin and expectant mothers
- Gentle Facial Toner: Alcohol-free and formulated to cleanse, tone, moisturize, and balance the pH level of skin; This toner helps constrict pores, control acne and oil production, soothe skin and provide an antioxidant boost
- Finest Natural Ingredients: Made with certified organic Witch Hazel grown exclusively for Thayers on a family farm in Connecticut, certified organic aloe vera, and pore-cleansing Rose Water that imparts a natural glow to your skin
- Unique Formulation: Thayers Witch Hazel extract is made the old-fashioned way (via maceration) using water only and NEVER touching alcohol; Dermatologist tested for safety
- Time Tested Remedies: We're committed to excellence with our formulas, featuring classic ingredients we've used for nearly two centuries; Thayers elixirs have been a fixture in medecine cabinets for generations, once you use them, you'll know why
- 100% all natural
- Designed for all skin types
- Uses powerful cleansing benefits of original witch hazel
- Directions: Temporarily Relieves Minor Skin Irritations Due To Minor Cuts, Scrapes Or Insect Bites. Remove Protedtive Inner Seal, Moisten Cotton Ball Or Cleansing Pad And Gently Wipe Skin To Apply. Apply As Often As Necessary.
- Ingredients: 100% All Natural Witch Hazel, Containing Alcohol 14% (Astringent)
- Safety Warning: For External Use Only. When Using This Product, Avoid Contact With Eyes. Stop Use And Ask A Doctor If Condition Worsens Or Symptoms Persist For More Than 7 Days. If Swallowed, Get Medical Help Or Contact Poison Control Cener Right Away.