There are some natural skin and healthcare ingredients — like pine bark extract for its anti-aging properties — that are indispensably practical in their single benefit. Others, like coconut oil, Vitamin C and, yes, witch hazel, are beloved by the natural wellness community for their multi-purpose functions and benefits.
Stocking your pantry and medicine cabinet with these heavy hitting products is a super smart idea for your skin, hair and general health. Witch hazel is particularly effective in treating a number of skincare concerns, from persistent acne to a painful sunburn.
Read on to get the 411 on all the ways witch hazel is wonderful for your overall health.
What is Witch Hazel?
Witch Hazel is a common shrub found in North America and some parts of Asia. Witch hazel astringent, witch hazel extract and witch hazel tea are derived from the bark and leaves of the plant.
Native Americans have been using witch hazel as a treatment for skin irritations for years. While their method included boiling the plant parts to make a tincture, witch hazel in its various forms can now be found at almost any health food store or beauty shop.
Additionally, many natural skincare products include witch hazel as a main ingredient— check the backs of labels the next time you’re shopping at your local natural health food store!
Its seemingly magical curative properties for a myriad of skin, hair and health concerns comes from its naturally antioxidant and astringent properties.
Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are mutated cells that can accelerate signs of aging or even cause cancer.
Astringents kill bacteria, dissolve dirt and shrink pores so that skin stays clear. These two properties combined in witch hazel make for a major force in keeping skin healthy, young looking and clear.
Benefits & Uses of Witch Hazel For Skin
1. Clears up acne
Since it is antibacterial, witch hazel for acne is a wonderful natural alternative to the harsher, chemical-filled options currently on the market.
Using a simple pure witch hazel toner after washing your face and before moisturizing will dissolve dirt and bacteria in your pores to keep acne flair ups at bay. And if you’re currently experiencing an acne outbreak, the astringent properties will also calm irritated skin and reduce redness.
Check out these facemasks for acne.
2. Fights signs of aging and sun damage
The antioxidants in witch hazel fights free radicals, which stops cellular damage that leads to the major signs of aging and sun damage, like fine lines, wrinkles, dryness and dullness.
By encouraging new cell turnover, witch hazel leaves your skin looking younger and plumper.
3. Shrinks pores
The astringent properties in witch hazel clear pores from dirt, bacteria and other environmental toxins. That build up opens your pores and sticks itself here (hello, blackheads!).
As we’ve mentioned previously, toning your skin with witch hazel dissolves that dirt so your pores can shrink back down. Additionally, once your pores are dirt free, the toner keeps them small, which in turn makes it harder for dirt to find its way back into your pores. Voila!
4. Soothes sunburns
Using witch hazel for sunburn issues is an awesome alternative to aloe vera (though we love aloe too!). Witch hazel’s antioxidants speeds up your skin’s healing process and immediately counteracts the sun damage. Plus, witch hazel’s astringent qualities soothes the red, irritated sunburned skin.
5. De-puffs eye area
Witch hazel for puffy eyes is one of our favorite lesser known uses for the toner. The astringent properties tightens your skin so the next time you haven’t gotten enough sleep, sweep a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel (diluted with water) around your eye area for an instant perk up! Just be sure not to get the toner directly in your eyes since it will sting!
6. Soothes recently shaved or waxed skin
Using witch hazel after shaving will relieve inflammation and irritation due to nicks and razor burn and will also stop bleeding.
Here are a fewgreat natural DIY shaving recipes
Treats insect bites and poison ivy
In the same way witch hazel soothes sunburns and razor burns, it also heals insect bites and soothes poison ivy.
Another great ingredient for bites and stings is activated charcoal, check out this DIY activated charcoal poultice.
7. Reduces scalp oil build up
Surprise! You can also use witch hazel for hair! Witch hazel will quickly cut the build up on your scalp that comes from hair products and natural oil build up. Just add a few drops to your shampoo or do a quick witch hazel rinse between cleansing and conditioning for some seriously shiny, healthy looking hair.
But wait— there are even more benefits!
8. Soothe a sore throat.
You can find witch hazel tea at many health food stores or you can add witch hazel extract to your favorite tea to naturally and effectively soothe the inflammation caused by a sore throat.
9. Hemorrhoid treatment
Something no one likes to talk about but something many people will experience— hemorrhoids. While some forms of leading hemorrhoid healer Preparation H contains witch hazel, they also contain a whole host of ingredients (like shark liver oil!) that you definitely don’t want to use.
Witch hazel will shrink the area and provide immediate relief from the inflammation and irritation, making it an awesome alternative for hemorrhoid issues.
10. Clear up ear infections
For relief from swimmer’s ear or a common ear infection, put a few drops of witch hazel (with an eye dropper) into the ear canal. It will break up excess oil and wax, reduce inflammation and irritation and dry up any pus.
11. Keeps gums healthy
Do a witch hazel mouth rinse every morning to reduce gum swelling, redness and irritation. Be sure to use a witch hazel astringent or extract that is isopropyl alcohol free.
If you're looking for a way to reduce gum sensitivity and brighten your smile check out our activated charcoal tooth powder.
Types of Witch Hazel Products
Witch Hazel Toner
Most of the reputable witch hazel toner brands are alcohol free, though some are not. We always prefer the alcohol free version, as it can be drying. The toner is best used for external skincare issues.
Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner is a classic and affordable option.
Witch Hazel Extract
The extract is best used for internal issues and may contain cane sugar alcohol and vegetable glycerin.
Try Hawaii Pharm for an organic, food grade extract.
A Few of Our Favorite DIY Witch Hazal Recipes
Witch Hazel Vitamin C DIY Skin Toner
Credit: Wellness Mama
- Vitamin C Powder
- Witch hazel extract
- Lavender essential oil
This classic toner blend hits all the right notes; Vitamin C to tighten skin and balance the pH, witch hazel to break up bacteria and soothe inflammation and lavender to fight redness and irritation. You can use witch hazel for oily skin or dry skin, so if you were wondering is witch hazel a good toner for dry skin or oily skin, the answer is yes to both!
Vitamin C for skin is necessary but since it is an acid, it can irritate your skin in high doses. Start with small amounts and work your way up but be careful not to exceed 1.5 teaspoons.
And speaking of starting small, make this toner in small batches. Vitamin C breaks down relatively quickly which means you’re losing the benefits as time goes on. Additionally, store this in a dark, glass bottle as Vitamin C is highly photo reactive.
DIY Witch Hazel Shampoo
- Witch hazel
- Natural liquid soap
Hydrating, cleansing and oil cutting all in one, this natural DIY shampoo is one of our favorites. Substitute orange water for the rose water if you prefer the smell and you can also use vegetable glycerin if you don’t want to use vodka. Either way, this recipe will cut down on an oily scalp and leave you with clean, shiny hair.
DIY Witch Hazel Lotion
- Liquid oil like olive, sweet almond, avocado, etc)
- Liquid like distilled water, witch hazel, aloe vera juice, rose water, etc.
- Coconut oil
This DIY witch hazel cream recipe can be adapted so that you end up with a hard lotion, a semi hard lotion or a soft lotion. The ingredients remain the same, it’s the proportions that change. You can also either add only one type liquid oil and liquid or you can add small amounts of the varying options, depending on your desired result.
DIY Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer Spray
- Witch Hazel
- Aloe Vera Gel
- Vitamin E oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
- Tea tree oil
- Filtered water
Conventional antibacterial hand gels and sprays do much more harm than good; the synthetic ingredients dry your hands out and the antibacterial properties can actually cause bacteria to mutate into stronger strains that are resistant to the formulations.
This natural version is the perfect antidote for the synthetic versions. Witch hazel, tea tree oil and frankincense kill bacteria and germs while aloe vera, Vitamin E and lavender moisturizes and soothes. It is sure to keep you germ free and your hands hydrated.
DIY Facial Scrub for Acne
- Chamomile essential oil
- Tea tree essential oil
- Witch hazel
- Salicylic acid spot treatment
- Vitamin E oil
Exfoliating is an important skincare step; we recommend exfoliating about three times a week with a gentle recipe like this one. Exfoliating sloughs off dead skin cells, leaving you with bright, clear and glowing skin.
DIY Witch Hazel Bug Spray
- Witch hazel
- Shield Me essential oil blend
While you can definitely use your own mix of bug repelling essential oils like citronella, grapefruit and geranium, this pre-made mix is affordable, convenient and safe for kids.
Mix up a big patch of this natural bug repellent spray the next time you hit the beach or go for a hike. The only thing better than using witch hazel to soothe insect bites is using it to prevent them from happening at all!
DIY Witch Hazel Reusable Face Cleansing Cloths
- Distilled water
- Witch hazel
- Sweet almond oil
- Castile soap
Disposable face wipes are perhaps one of the worst skincare products you can use for both your own skin and the environment as a whole.
Not only are they incredibly wasteful, most contain drying alcohol as a main ingredient. So while your face may be getting cleaned, it’s also getting stripped of its natural oils (which, as we know, leads to overactive oil glands and subsequent blemishes).
Instead, try this reusable and alcohol free face wipe recipe. It’s perfect for those nights when you’re too tired to take off your make up or you just need a quick refresh mid-day.
Homemade Rosemary Mint Witch Hazel Facial Cleanser
- Liquid Castile soap
- Witch hazel
- Rosemary extract
- Mint extract
Here’s a super simple and incredibly effective natural face wash recipe that’s gentle enough to use everyday. The zing from the rosemary and mint makes it especially nice for a morning skincare routine when you need to wake up and the caffeine hasn’t yet hit your bloodstream.
Room Spray with Essential Oils and Witch Hazel
- Witch hazel
- Essential oils
While this may not technically be a skincare product, many room sprays are full of toxic ingredients that can seep into your skin from the air. Because of this, we think it’s just as important for your health to have non toxic home products as well.
This room spray is easily customizable; just add whatever essential oils you like most. You can change them up seasonally by adding lavender and rose for spring or eucalyptus and mint for a more festive holiday scent.
DIY Eye Firming Cream
- Strong coffee
- Witch hazel
- Aloe Vera gel
- Cypress oil
Eye creams are expensive and most often, it’s hard to tell if they’re ever doing anything. This DIY eye firming cream will immediately wake up tired eyes. Plus, the ingredients are all natural, affordable and easy to find anywhere.
Cypress oil contains fantastic skin tightening properties and is especially effective for the delicate eye area. Aloe vera hydrates while coffee and witch hazel tighten and brighten the skin surrounding your eyes. Apply morning and night after moisturizing for best results.
Witch Hazel— Magic in a Bottle
As the name implies, there’s something otherworldly about all the benefits of witch hazel. From basic skincare concerns to more serious health ailments, witch hazel is an effective, safe remedy that’s affordable to boot.