Hamamelis virginiana is a versatile herb with many uses. If you’re wildcrafting it, harvest the leaves, twigs, and buds in spring or the bark any time of year.
Witch hazel is a natural treatment for acne, bruises, minor burns, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. It can also help fade discoloration and reduce the appearance of aging spots.
1. It’s Astringent
Witch hazel is an astringent that tightens pores and reduces oiliness. It also reduces redness and itching caused by acne breakouts and irritated skin.
The astringent properties of witch hazel stem from its tannin-rich leaves and bark. The phenolic compounds found in the herb are called hamamelitannins and catechols. These natural astringents help prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms on the skin and scalp.
In addition, witch hazel contains chemicals that ease irritation from abrasions like sunburn and bug bites. It is also helpful in treating poison ivy and soothing razor burn.
American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a shrub native to northeastern and southeast North America. The forked branches of the plant have been used by Native Americans and early European settlers as dowsing sticks, with the branch bending when it struck underground water sources.
2. It’s Antibacterial
The tannins in witch hazel act as an antibacterial, preventing bacteria from growing within the skin. This can help reduce acne breakouts, reduce oil and redness, and prevent blackheads from forming.
The leaves and bark of the witch hazel plant contain hamamelitannins, catechols, proanthocyanidins, and other compounds that contribute to its astringent properties. These compounds can also kill bacteria and help reduce inflammation and irritation.
Applying witch hazel to a swollen or puffy eye can reduce edema (swelling) by helping the blood vessels to dilate. It can also be used to soothe irritated or sore throats, sinus infections, coughs, strep throat, and tonsillitis by reducing pain, swelling, itching, inflammation, and fluid build-up. (2)
3. It’s Anti-inflammatory
Witch hazel can help reduce itching and swelling caused by bug bites, stings, rashes, sunburn, and even acne. It’s an ingredient in many DIY bug sprays and commercial products for treating insect bites. People also use it to soothe sore throats, coughs, and hemorrhoids.
However, it’s not something you want to slather on your skin in its pure form because it can be too drying for some skin types. That’s why you’ll find it in alcohol-free toners and other ingredients like glycerin and aloe vera. These additional ingredients keep skin hydrated and prevent dryness. They also reduce inflammation and redness.
4. It’s A Diuretic
Witch hazel is a natural diuretic that helps remove excess oil, reducing the appearance of pores. It also soothes skin and reduces swelling, redness, and itching. This makes it an excellent ingredient for blemish-blitzing skincare products and is often used as a spot treatment. It can also help prevent and treat varicose veins by reducing the occurrence of blood clots. It can even be used to soothe sore throats and treat ear infections.
It can be applied topically as a toner or in a homemade face wash. This herbal remedy is high in antioxidants, tannins, proanthocyanidins, and phenolic acids that promote healing and protect against oxidation, cellular damage, and free radicals. It also helps slow aging by reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and puffy eyes. It also helps reduce the risk of melanoma and other cancers by stopping mutated cells from growing and inducing apoptosis.
5. It’s a Natural Deodorant
Using witch hazel as an underarm deodorant helps reduce sweat, kill bacteria, and keep you smelling fresh throughout the day. Just dab a little on the armpits with a cotton ball or cloth.
Its astringent properties help reduce the redness and itching of diaper rash. It also has antiseptic qualities that can help clean minor shaving cuts.
Witch hazel tightens skin, which reduces fine lines and wrinkles. It can also shrink pores and prevent black and whiteheads by drying up excess oil.
Drinking a mixture of diluted witch hazel and honey can soothe sore throats. It also helps dry earwax, removes toxins, and wards off infections. You can add it to homemade cleaning solutions for your teeth or make a natural hemorrhoid remedy. It’s excellent for preventing varicose veins by helping to break up and dry up bruising and swelling.
6. It’s a Natural Painkiller
Witch hazel extract soothes a sore throat or irritated sinuses, relieves itching caused by bug bites, and eases the inflammation of minor burns. It also helps alleviate itching and redness caused by shingles and can be used to treat varicose veins.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, making it a versatile skincare ingredient. However, using it too frequently or in high concentrations can dry out your skin.
Thayers camphor pain relieving pads contain witch hazel, aloe vera, and eucalyptus oil and help relieve itching, rashes, scrapes, and insect bites. They can also be used to treat a variety of scalp conditions. Choose products that say “non-distilled” or “alcohol-free.” They will have less drying effect. Avoid scented or fragranced witch hazel products since they may irritate your skin.
7. It’s a Natural Skin Care Product
Witch hazel extract isn’t something you can slather on your skin in its pure form, and it’s often paired with other ingredients to make it more palatable for everyday use. It’s extracted from the bark and leaves of the North American witch-hazel shrub (Hamamelis virginiana), then restructured into a liquid for topical applications.
For your skin, look for alcohol-free witch hazel products formulated without retinol or other strong exfoliants, which can be harsh on dry skin and lead to irritation. It’s also a good idea to patch test before applying any new product to your face.
For example, Thayer’s alcohol-free Witch Hazel is infused with soothing glycerin and aloe vera to hydrate your skin. It’s perfect for spot-treating blemishes and inflammation. It’s also a daily toner after cleansing and before applying serums or moisturizers.
8. It’s a Natural Cleanser
Witch hazel is an all-around cleanser that removes excess oil, calms redness, and itching, and soothes the appearance of blemishes. It can lower eye puffiness and help fade marks, bruises, and old scars.
This versatile plant (Hamamelis virginiana) is harvested from its dormant twigs and bark to create an extract used in skin care products, such as astringents, facial toners, after-shave lotions, and retinol serums.
Our Production Manager Brittany saturates a cotton ball with Witch Hazel and swabs away the itch for a quick remedy to itchy skin. This simple, natural, and effective technique also helps to relieve the symptoms of poison ivy, scabies, or insect bites. Using witch hazel daily can also prevent a cold sore from developing and reduce the itching associated with them.
9. It’s a Natural Toner
For those with oily skin or breakouts, witch hazel is a great ingredient to add to a facial cleanser, serum, lotion, or natural face wash. It reduces blemishes’ redness, size, and swelling and helps unclog pores. This makes it an excellent spot treatment for acne and a good choice for those with sensitive skin that cannot tolerate salicylic acid or other astringent ingredients.
To use as a natural toner, pour a few drops on a cotton ball or round and swipe over your clean, dry face (avoiding eyes and mouth). Follow with whatever actives or moisturizer you already have in your routine. It’s an excellent idea to patch-test any new ingredient before adding it to your practice.
10. It’s a Natural Eye Care Product
As a natural eye care product, witch hazel can naturally reduce puffiness and brighten discoloration around the eyes. The excellent application is also known to soothe itchy or tired eyes and prevent the build-up of blackheads around the delicate area.
This natural cleanser, toner, and astringent also work well for those with oily skin, spots, or clogged pores because it reduces the appearance of enlarged pores (although no product can shrink them). The anti-inflammatory properties soothe redness, irritated, swollen, or blemished skin, and calm insect bites, stings, cuts, bruises, and sunburn.
To make your homemade makeup remover that contains the potent power of witch hazel, combine distilled water and a handful of natural plant extracts, such as calendula flowers, goldenseal root, thyme leaves and berries or sage leaf and herbs of choice, into a glass jar. Then pour over the alcohol-free witch hazel and shake to create a tincture.