Witch Hazel Benefits Explained: Is Witch Hazel Safe?

Post Image

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if a purchase is made after visiting these links.

In today’s day in age, there are hundreds of different natural beauty products. And they all claim to do similar things. Let me just say that none of them have anything on the magic that is witch hazel. What do you think people used thousands of years ago before there were acne washes, scrubs, toners, and all the other products that are packed with chemicals? If you said they used plants, then you guessed correctly.

Even though you’ve seen witch hazel mostly in liquid form, it actually comes from a plant. A small tree, to be exact. It contains natural astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s great for your skin as well as many other things. 

I know that when I stumbled across witch hazel, I felt like it was the best invention since sliced bread. It really can do it all. It’s mostly used for skin and scalp, but there are plenty of other benefits as well. If you’re looking for a natural way to make your skin clearer and healthier, then you’ve come to the right place. Witch hazel will never let you down -- continue reading to find out why. 

What Is Witch Hazel? 

You may know witch hazel as a clear liquid, but it actually originates from the witch hazel plant. There are four different types of species in North America, where they are also called winter bloom. The plant looks like a small tree. They grow to be between 10 to 25 feet tall.

It doesn’t sound so small if you ask me. The different species bloom at different points of the year. One species blooms from September to November, while another blooms from January to March. The flower and the fruit are together, and the fruit has two capsules. Each capsule contains a shiny black seed.  

Even though many think that witch hazel has to do with sorcery and magic, it actually doesn’t. The word comes from wiche, which means bendable. Native Americans were the original users of witch hazel for its medicinal properties.

A clear liquid is extracted from the leaves and the bark to be used for medicinal purposes as well as skincare products. It’s basically an astringent that helps clean your pores while breaking down dead skin cells. It has become very popular and is regulated as an over-the-counter drug for external use only. 

What Is Witch Hazel Used For?

Woman smiling in the mirror.

Witch hazel can help treat and ease various pains.

So, what is witch hazel used for? Witch hazel has a bunch of uses, some more popular and some less known. One of its less relevant but still helpful uses is that witch hazel can help treat hemorrhoids. If you don’t know what hemorrhoids are, then I don’t know if you want me to be the person to tell you. But I will anyway. Hemorrhoids are caused by the swelling of the veins in your rectum. The swelling is usually caused by straining the muscles down there. This often happens when someone has constant constipation or has given birth.

It’s very common for hospitals to give witch hazel pads to new moms to soothe the area, especially if they needed to get stitches. There’s no actual scientific research to back this claim up, but it can help the itching, swelling, and general pain that accompanies hemorrhoids. It even has hemostatic properties, which means that it can prevent bleeding that was caused by hemorrhoids. 

Is Witch Hazel A Toner?

While witch hazel comes from a plant, it is most popularly used as a toner to restore pH balance. All it takes is some mixing of witch hazel extract with pure water and a few other ingredients such as aloe vera.

Witch hazel’s astringent properties make it useful as a toner in tightening pores and making your skin firmer. Because of its ability to help balance the oil on your skin, it’s especially used for oily and combination skin types. As a toner it also functions well to remove makeup, sweat, and dirt. It does so in a gentle way, unlike alcohol-based astringents.

Many dermatologists recommend using a witch hazel product that comes in oil so that it doesn’t dry out your skin too much. It should also be alcohol-free to avoid harshness. Over-cleansing puts your skin at risk for over-drying and breakouts. Witch hazel can also be used for other skin issues and for your hair.

Top 9 Witch Hazel Benefits

1. Witch Hazel For Hair Explained

Girl with back to camera and pink bow in hair.

Witch hazel can make your hair healthier.

How can you use witch hazel for hair? If you have an overabundance of oil buildup on your scalp, then witch hazel may just be your new best friend. Using it on your scalp can actually leave your hair looking shinier and healthier with more volume. It’s especially great for removing any unwanted odors.

Think about the last time you went to a bonfire or you were with a friend that was smoking. Your hair probably stunk after. With witch hazel, it doesn’t have to. It’s even great for the base of your neck to treat bug bites or acne, since that’s where sweat tends to build up. 

If you suffer from an itchy scalp, witch hazel may very well be able to help you. Many shampoos actually contain it because of all of its hair and scalp benefits. You can easily add a few drops to your natural shampoo if it doesn’t already contain it.

Using it may also make your scalp less sensitive to products you used to not be able to use. It can also help prevent ingrown hairs. After you shave, you can apply some witch hazel to soothe razor burn and prevent the formation of those stubborn ingrown hairs. It can also soothe your skin after waxing. 

2. Witch Hazel For Ingrown Hair

Let’s start with the basics by explaining why we experience ingrown hairs. Essentially, ingrown hairs happen when the tip of a hair folds back into the skin at the root level. When this happens, you’re likely to experience some inflammation and a bump.

This is where witch hazel for ingrown hair comes into play. In order to treat your pesky ingrown hairs, put 36 uncoated aspirin pills (of the 325 mg variety) in one jar and in another jar place an additional 16 pills. Using a wooden soon, crush the aspirin enough so that it is not left in large pieces.

Pour 1 1/3 cup of 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol into the jar with the larger amount of aspirin. Add 2/3 cup of witch hazel toner to the jar with the lesser amount of aspirin. Place the lids on the jars and shake them well until the aspirin has been broken up fully. Lastly, combine the contents of both jars and shake again. Voilà, you’ve got yourself the perfect witch hazel treatment for ingrown hair!

3. Benefits Of Witch Hazel Makeup Remover

Woman removing makeup from her face.

Try swapping your regular makeup remover with a witch hazel blend.

Among the long list of perks, we can’t fail to mention the benefits of witch hazel makeup remover. It gets rid of makeup much better than a typical remover, plus you get to enjoy the fact that it’s natural. It also doesn’t leave oily residue on your skin when you use it, so you’ll truly feel refreshed and cleansed.

If you’d like to make your own witch hazel makeup remover, start by mixing 6 tablespoons of alcohol-free witch hazel with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Then simply shake the ingredients in the jar and pour a little onto a cotton pad. Apply it to your face and follow up with a cleanser when you’re done.

4. Witch Hazel For Skin Explained

African American woman with clear skin.

Woman with clear skin.

Witch hazel for skin is its most common use because it contains chemicals called tannins. When this chemical is applied to the skin, it can help to reduce swelling and improve broken skin while fighting bacteria. The active healing ingredients help reduce inflammation and cellular damage, all while soothing wounds.

Many have made this natural toner part of their makeup routine since it balances pH levels. Even though it can treat hemorrhoids, minor bleeding, and skin irritation, it’s not necessarily effective for eczema. It seems like it should work for eczema, since it has similar characteristics. That being said, hydrocortisone cream has been proven to be more effective when it comes to eczema. 

Using witch hazel compared to other products takes a much more natural route for your skin. When you use it, you know exactly what’s going onto your skin. Even though the word isn’t meant to have anything to do with witches, this stuff is sort of like magic!

Our skin is not only our largest organ, but it’s also the most vulnerable. Every life stressor ends up appearing on our skin, like aging, infections, puffiness, and inflammation. Therefore, it’s important to use natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents to help fight the daily damage that our skin deals with.

5. Witch Hazel For Pores

Girl looking in the mirror.

Witch hazel can help minimize the appearance of pores.

As we mentioned above, this astringent is a handy tool if you’re looking to minimize the appearance of pores on your skin. This is because it contains restricting compounds that make the proteins inside the cells of your skin come together. It’s not a permanent solution, but if you regularly use it for pores then you will continue to enjoy the results.

Witch hazel helps remove oil, meaning that your pores won’t have an acne-inducing buildup. It is also a great ingredient to soothe your skin and pores overall, as it possesses anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities. This will help calm any areas experiencing redness or blotchiness.

6. Witch Hazel For Bed Bugs

If you didn’t listen to the wise advice “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”, then you’re in trouble. And likely itchy, too. Lucky for you, witch hazel for bed bug bites can provide you with relief. As a liquid astringent, it possesses an anesthetic effect. This relieves the itchiness which generally accompanies these bites.

But hopefully, you can get to – and kill – bed bugs before they get to you. With a combination of rubbing alcohol, witch hazel and essential oils known to kill bugs, you can kill them before they become a major issue. Don’t forget that in addition to using this spray to kill the bugs, you should also clean your floors, wash your linens, etc., in order to make sure that you’ve fully addressed the issue.

7. How To Use Witch Hazel For Acne

Everyone suffers from some form of acne at some point in their life. If you say you’ve never had to deal with a stubborn zit, then I’d say you’re a liar. If you have acne-prone skin, then witch hazel can slow down inflammation while treating the redness, oiliness, and even bleeding.

You can also use it as a natural cleanser since it can reduce bacteria growth and helps speed up the healing time of infections. This includes scabs. Think about how often you have scabs that you so badly want to peel off, but you have to keep reminding yourself that peeling it off will cause more damage and prevent it from fully healing. 

No product can shrink pores per se, but witch hazel can reduce their appearance. It prevents excess oil production in addition to the development of blackheads or whiteheads. These definitely contribute to larger breakouts since they tempt you to pick at your skin, which only adds more bacteria to the current situation.

To use this magic little gift on your skin, all you need to do is take a clean cotton ball or pad to dab your skin with it. You can use it as much as you want throughout the day anywhere you’re experiencing irritation on your face. Start out slow, though, because your skin might need some time to adjust to this new ingredient. 

8. Witch Hazel For Sunburn Explained

Back view of girl on beach with feet in sand.

Protect yourself from harmful rays.

For a natural way to slow down the signs of aging and tighten your skin, you’ve come to the right place. The redness and discoloration that was caused by sun exposure doesn’t have to be a worry for you anymore. Witch hazel can help reduce the appearance and discomfort of your typical sunburn.

It’s protective against skin cancer and melanoma, thanks to the presence of antioxidants and polyphenols. It’s able to do this because it neutralizes harmful free radicals, which is the main cause of the spread of skin cancer. These two substances help inhibit the production of melanoma cells while protecting your healthy skin cells. 

Witch hazel can protect your complexion by renewing collagen and your skin’s elasticity. If you want the perfect blend, you can easily mix vitamin E oil with witch hazel and other natural ingredients to make your own anti-aging serum. This is great when it’s applied to discolored skin, scars, old acne marks, and bites. Over time, it will help fade their appearance and hopefully reverse the damage. It can also be combined with aloe vera to better treat a sunburn. 

9. Witch Hazel After Shaving Explained

Aftershave isn’t just to get a nice smell after you’ve trimmed your beard. It also provides some nourishing ingredients which can soothe your skin after the harshness of shaving.

Nowadays, more and more men are turning to witch hazel after shaving instead of the more traditional aftershaves. Unlike regular aftershaves, which are basically just astringents, witch hazel has additional advantages. It does not include alcohol, it’s also an antiseptic and a toner, it has anti-inflammatory properties, and smells great.

Alcohol especially is harsh on your skin and will dry you out, which is why you should avoid putting alcohol-based products on your face. So try witch hazel after shaving in order to reap its many benefits.

Benefits Of Witch Hazel With Rose Water

Womans hands pouring essential oil on cotton pad.

DIY rose water with witch hazel.

Before we get to the benefits of witch hazel with rose water, let’s first briefly review what rose water is. Essentially, rose water is made by steeping rose petals in water. It has benefits for your skin, respiratory system, eyes, wounds, infections, headaches, digestion, and even your brain.

Rose water alone has antioxidants that protect your skin from damage. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that it can soothe irritations resulting from various skin conditions. Rose water serves as an inhibitor against elastase and collagenase, both of which can damage your skin. So you can see why it’s worth it to use the two -- the benefits of witch hazel with rose water are unparalleled!

Does Witch Hazel Work? Witch Hazel Before And After Results

Overall, many people are falling in love with witch hazel. It’s a solid toner, probably one of the best options out there. It’s also a great makeup remover, it can help your hair and skin, it can treat acne and bed bugs, and it can soothe sunburns and the effects of shaving. Most people who use witch hazel do notice tremendous results afterward, and they therefore continue to use it and love it.

Yet nothing in life is all good (except for ice cream, of course). So while witch hazel is a superhero in many ways, it’s not without its flaws. For instance, witch hazel contains tannins, which have a constricting and drying effect on the skin. This is a good fix for your immediate problems, but if you use it for an extended period of time your skin can become too dry. Additionally, most witch hazel is distilled using denatured alcohol, and the extract contains about 15% alcohol. And we all know that it’s not good to put alcohol on your skin, as it dries you out and can lead to free-radical damage.

Conclusion

Witch hazel is available at many different types of locations, like pharmacies, health food stores, grocery stores, and even online. Nevertheless, you do need to be a bit picky when buying. You should look for alcohol-free formulas. These will be more gentle on your skin. You can buy it in liquid form, as an ointment, or medicated pads depending on what you want to use it for.

Even though witch hazel has a ton of benefits and can relieve minor skin problems, it should not be used for chronic conditions. Yes, it can help with insect bites and mild sunburns, but when it comes to major skin conditions, it’s recommended that you speak with a doctor. Delaying treatment of a serious condition or trying to treat it yourself can have some real health consequences. 

Witch hazel is usually very safe to use unless you overuse it or ingest it. Whatever you do, don’t drink it. I’m sure there is someone on the internet who says that it’s perfectly fine to drink this stuff, but it can make you very sick. It can cause nausea, constipation, vomiting, liver damage, and other terrible side effects. On a more positive note, it has a ton of benefits and it’s well worth using if you don’t already.

Related Products