You may have noticed witch hazel as an added ingredient in many of your toners, cleansers and makeup removers. There is a good reason for this.
Witch hazel or Hamamelis virginiana is a bright orange or yellow plant with beautiful blooms and an astonishing array of uses.
The extract that is sold in stores is produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch Hazel shrub and is often combined with other skin-enriching ingredients such as aloe vera and rosewater.
It is widely accepted in mainstream and alternative health and beauty circles for its potent astringent properties.
Native Americans have used a boiled decoction of this plant for thousands of years for various medicinal purposes such as clearing skin conditions, soothing sore muscles and relieving irritated digestive systems.
Since then, it’s popularity has only risen and it is one of the few plants that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a non-prescription drug treatment.
It is also incredibly cheap and versatile, so if you don’t already have a bottle in your medicine cabinet, you are seriously missing out!
This plant is not only good for keeping the skin clean and free of impurities either.
In this article, we delve into 18 uses for this versatile, natural product in your home, for your health, and in your beauty routine.
A Word On Buying Witch Hazel
There are a number of products containing witch hazel on the market, but for the purposes of this article, unless stated otherwise, we are referring to 100% pure and undiluted witch hazel.
It’s also important not to purchase witch hazel with added alcohol.
Our recommended bottle of witch hazel is this Dickinson’s Witch Hazel.
18 Brilliant Uses For Witch Hazel
1. Odor Removal Spray
- 1 tbsp witch hazel
- 3 drops lavender essential oil (or other fragrant essential oil of your choice)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3 tbsp warm water
Mix in a glass spray bottle. Shake well to combine. Use this to absorb any unpleasant odors from carpet, upholstery, or simply as a fragrance boosting room spray.
2. Facial Cleansing
Pour a little witch hazel onto a cotton facial pad (an eco-friendly and reusable one – like this) and use as a daily cleanser.
Because witch hazel cleanses your pores without drying them out, it can be an excellent solution for those with dry or combination skin.
If you have oily skin, use witch hazel throughout the day to keep your face clean and cut down on oil buildup without having to wash your face completely.
3. Acne Treatment
Dealing with acne can be a frustrating and trying process and many products simply dry out your skin or even increase redness and inflammation.
Witch hazel has been shown to be effective as an anti-inflammatory agent and natural antibacterial that can help clear up acne. It can also help improve the appearance of acne scarring on the face and speed healing.
Try using a witch hazel toner in a spray bottle for acne in other areas as well such as the back or chest. Spray it on after the shower to allow it to soak into the skin.
4. Soothe Diaper Rash
If your little one has an irritated bum, try following up their diaper change with a quick wipe of witch hazel diluted in water on a cotton pad. This can provide cooling relief, reduce inflammation and speed healing.
Even with proper sun precautions and regular application of sunscreen, it can sometimes be hard to avoid a sunburn, especially if you have fair skin that burns easily.
One study looked at the effects of a lotion with 10% witch hazel content as an aftersun burn treatment compared to lotions without witch hazel. Those who received the witch hazel treatment saw a 27 percent redness reduction while the witch-hazel free group only saw an 11 percent improvement over two days of application.
Mix witch hazel in with pure aloe vera gel for optimal post-sun relief and to prevent skin cracking and peeling in the days to come.
Read Next: 3 Ways To Use Aloe Vera To Heal A Sunburn
6. Hand Sanitizer
1 ½ tsp witch hazel
⅓ tsp vitamin E oil
15 drops tea tree essential oil
½ cup aloe vera gel
Transfer to a pump or squeeze bottle and use for up to 2 weeks. Because of the antimicrobial properties of witch hazel and tea tree oil, this hand sanitizer is a powerful disinfectant. Unlike commercial hand sanitizers, however, it does not use alcohol to dry out your hands and actually functions as a restorative moisturizer.
7. Reduce Under Eye Puffiness
Ah, the dreaded purple shadows of a sleepless night.
Whether you were burning the midnight oil to finish your most recent project, up late with a crying baby, or simply have a genetic predisposition to puffy eyes, you have probably experienced this condition at some point.
Using an eco-friendly reusable cotton pad with witch hazel around the eyes regularly can help reduce the appearance of dark circles and decrease under-eye inflammation by tightening the skin.
Be sure not to get any in your eyes as this can cause lingering irritation and dryness.
8. Insect Repellent
Mix 2 tbsp witch hazel, 5 drops of lemongrass essential oil and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and shake to combine.
Use this spray as a powerful insect repellent. It is safe to use on most surfaces including your skin and will not leave any nasty, chemical residue. Be sure to test on a discreet area before spraying on fabric.
This same concoction works to reduce irritated bug bites and prevent itchiness on human skin. Plain witch hazel applied to the bite with a reusable cotton pad can also bring down inflammation from flea bites, mosquito bites, and bee stings.
9. Hemorrhoid Relief
Make your own “Tucks” cooling pads with witch hazel.
If you are experiencing discomfort from hemorrhoids or other rectal or vaginal issues, the tannins in witch hazel can decrease inflammation and soothe mucous membranes.
These cooling pads can provide instant relief and are totally safe for use on your more sensitive areas.
Dip reusable cotton pads into witch hazel, being sure to allow them to soak up the liquid. Place cotton pads in the freezer for about an hour and use as needed.
You can also add a ½ cup of witch hazel to a warm bath for similar relief.
10. Stop Bleeding and Disinfect Wounds
Witch hazel is a popular disinfectant and is not quite as painful as alcohol-based solutions. Witch hazel also has hemostatic properties meaning it can reduce minor bleeding.
Apply an alcohol free witch hazel to minor scrapes and cuts to help speed healing, staunch bleeding, and clean the wound of any foreign debris. It can also be used to reduce the appearance of bruises.
11. Scalp Irritation and Dryness
Using a shampoo with witch hazel can help to rebalance the scalp and combat dryness. One study of almost 1,400 people showed significant improvement in scalp irritation and itchiness after using a witch hazel based shampoo.
This Grandpa’s Witch Hazel Shampoo is a good option.
12. Soothe Razor Burn
Splash on witch hazel after shaving legs or face to soothe skin and prevent unsightly, itchy bumps and ingrown hairs from forming. It can also help staunch the bleeding from any nicks or scrapes.
13. Varicose Veins and Stretch Marks
Varicose veins or spider veins are streaky, enlarged veins that often protrude from the feet and legs with a purplish hue and can often be unsightly and embarrassing.
Stretch marks are usually on the stomach or thighs and can follow incidents of rapid weight gain or loss such as pregnancy.
Though more research is needed to solidify the effects, the German Commission E, which evaluates herbal medicines for effectiveness has listed witch hazel as an appropriate treatment for these skin conditions.
14. Dry Skin
Though it may seem counter-productive to use an astringent as a moisturizer, witch hazel can actually improve skin dryness over time and restore healthy oils by cleansing clogged pores.
Apply to affected areas when the skin is still damp after showering, give witch hazel a few minutes to dry, and follow up with a natural lotion to help lock in moisture.
15. Treat Swimmers Ear
Swimmers ear or otitus externa is an uncomfortable microbial infection of the ear that is usually caused by water remaining in the ear after swimming.
Witch hazel can help dry up any pus that is clogging the ear canal, clear away excess oil, and break up wax and debris.
Use a small eye dropper to deliver a few drops of witch hazel into each ear. After allowing ears to drain, clean carefully with a cotton swab. Be sure not to insert cotton swab directly into the car canal as this could cause further damage.
16. Cleaning Dogs Ears
Our floppy eared friends can quickly get a buildup of earwax, mites, and other nasty things on the inside of their ears.
Using a cotton pad soaked in witch hazel, clean gently around the ear flap.
17. Tick Removal
Getting ticks to unclench from human or animal skin can often seem like a daunting task.
Before simply digging in, however, try sprinkling the tick with a few drops of witch hazel. These irritating bugs hate the taste and will loosen their grip, giving you time to remove the tick and dispose of it appropriately.
Be sure to grasp the entire tick and pull firmly. Disinfect the area with witch hazel on a cotton pad following removal.
18. Glass Cleaner
Use undiluted witch hazel in a spray bottle to clean glass, chrome, and mirrors. Simply wipe away with a paper towel and enjoy sparkling, disinfected surfaces
How about it, are you ready to put witch hazel to work for you?
Where To Buy Witch Hazel
Remember, to experience the full benefits of witch hazel, it’s important to use a pure, undiluted and alcohol free brand. This bottle of Dickinson’s Witch Hazel fulfils all of the criteria and is our recommended product.