In many households, a bottle of witch hazel is a staple in a first aid kit –for good reason. It has a number of proven benefits for your skin as well as health.
The bark, twigs and leaves of witch hazel are commonly used in traditional medicine. Along with being a natural astringent, this herb contains anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
Today, the bark and leaves are used to manufacture witch hazel leaf extract, bark extract and witch hazel water. These products are high in tannins, flavonoids and volatile oils. These extracts are also used as an ingredient in a wide variety of commercial skin care products.
When you learn about all of witch hazel’s extraordinary uses, you’ll be heading out to get a bottle for yourself.
Here are the top 10 amazing uses for witch hazel you never thought of.
1. Cures Acne
Witch hazel is a very good home remedy for treating acne and other skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. Its powerful astringent qualities constrict the blood vessels and the pores under the surface of your skin.
This contraction or shrinking of your pores can help reduce large pores, thus preventing acne. Also, it has antimicrobial properties that help cure acne.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology analyzed 52 products for acne treatment and found that the botanical anti-inflammatories aloe vera and witch hazel were commonly present in the products.
- Prepare a mixture with 1 teaspoon of witch hazel and 2 teaspoons of honey. Apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing it off with cool water. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day for a few days.
- Alternatively, mix enough witch hazel extract in 1 tablespoon of clay powder to make a paste. Apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing it off with a clean, damp washcloth. Use it only once a day.
2. Removes Blackheads
The tannins in witch hazel help remove excess oil from the skin, thus it may be useful in treating blackheads and other blemishes, too.
Furthermore, its astringent nature reduces the size of open pores to minimize the risk of dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum clogging the pores.
- Apply a few drops of witch hazel extract directly onto the affected skin.
- Massage gently for a few minutes.
- Rinse it off with cool water.
- Use this remedy 2 or 3 times a day to get rid of blackheads.
Note: For sensitive skin, mix witch hazel with an equal amount of water before using it on the skin.
3. Soothes Razor Burn
You can use witch hazel as an aftershave lotion if you suffer from razor burn. Its anti-inflammatory nature reduces the burning sensation as well as pain and itching. Additionally, the astringent property creates a partial barrier against infection.
- Mix 5 or 6 drops of witch hazel in 2 tablespoons of water. Dab this solution on the shaved area. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse it off with cool water. Do this twice daily as needed.
- Alternatively, mix a few drops of witch hazel in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Apply it on the affected skin. Leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing it off with cool water. Repeat as needed.
4. Controls Excessive Sweating
The astringent and antiperspirant properties in witch hazel help control excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis.
The tannic acid in it leads to constriction of the duct openings, which inhibits excess sweating. You can use witch hazel to control excessive sweating on your face, feet, palms and armpits.
- Soak a cotton ball in witch hazel liquid extract and dab it on the areas where you sweat a lot. Do this 2 or 3 times daily or as needed.
- Alternatively, use a cotton ball to apply a thin layer of witch hazel extract on the affected areas 2 times daily.
5. Treats Varicose Veins
This herb is even helpful in treating varicose veins. The polyphenols in it help strengthen blood vessels, which in turn reduce the appearance of bulging veins, one of the most common symptoms of varicose veins. Furthermore, its astringent nature helps reduce the swelling as well as the pain.
- Mix 10 to 15 drops of witch hazel extract in 1 cup of lukewarm water.
- Soak a wash cloth in this solution.
- Place it over the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times daily until you notice improvement.
Note: Do not massage or apply any type of pressure on the affected area.
6. Provides Relief from Hemorrhoids
Witch hazel may help treat damaged blood vessels responsible for hemorrhoids, mainly due to its astringent, anti-inflammatory and healing properties. It even helps reduce pain and itching.
A 2011 study published in The International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences notes that flavonoids and tannins in witch hazel may help shrink the blood vessels, which tightens the skin.
- Boil 1 teaspoon of dried witch hazel in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes. Soak a cotton ball or cotton cloth in it, then dab it gently on the hemorrhoids for 2 to 3 minutes. Do this a few times daily for several days.
- Alternatively, prepare a mixture with 1 teaspoon each of witch hazel tincture and cocoa butter. Apply it on the affected area 3 times a day for several days.
- Also, you can buy prepackaged witch hazel pads to use instead of toilet paper after a bowel movement to protect the affected area from further irritation.
7. Treats Sunburn
Witch hazel can even be used to soothe and treat sunburn and protect the skin from damage caused by both ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) radiation from the sun. Its anti-inflammatory action helps reduce skin redness, peeling and itchiness.
- Dab a little witch hazel on the affected area and allow it to dry on its own. Repeat as needed.
- Alternatively, mix a few drops of witch hazel in 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and apply it on the affected area 2 or 3 times a day.
8. Relieves Itching
Witch hazel is also good for relieving itching, thanks to its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. You can use it to relieve itching and discomfort associated with insect bites, stings, poison ivy, and diaper rashes.
- Put a few drops of witch hazel in a cup of water. Soak a cotton ball in it and dab it on the affected area. Repeat as needed.
- Another option is to use any over-the-counter witch hazel lotion.
9. Treats Dandruff
If you notice white flakes in your hair due to dandruff, treat it with witch hazel. It helps balance the scalp’s pH to treat dandruff and dry scalp. Furthermore, it can help relieve an itchy scalp.
- Mix 1 part witch hazel with 2 parts water in a spray bottle.
- Moisten your hair and scalp with this solution.
- Using your fingers, rub it into your scalp.
- Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then rinse and condition your hair as usual.
- Use this remedy every other day until the dandruff is gone. Then, use it only once a week to prevent a recurrence.
10. Treats Canker and Cold Sores
You can get rid of canker sores as well as cold sores with witch hazel. It helps dry out the fatty outer layer of the virus cells, thus fighting infection and speeding up the healing process. Its anti-inflammatory property helps reduce the size of the sores as well as pain and inflammation.
- Make a cup of witch hazel tea and allow it to cool for some time. Use it as a mouthwash a few times daily to treat canker sores inside the mouth.
- For external sores, apply an over-the-counter cream containing 2 percent witch hazel extract. Do this 3 or 4 times daily for a week.