10 Uses for Witch Hazel
We love a good all-natural product, especially one that refines pores, balances skin, and calms blemishes! Enter witch hazel, an anti-inflammatory astringent made from the leaves of the witch-hazel shrub (go figure.) Besides its ability to reduce swelling, witch hazel restores the skin’s pH balance after washing, controlling oil production as a result. We’ve raved about the lightening and brightening properties of witch hazel before, and can’t stop singing the praises of this miracle toner.
Even celebrities like Eva Mendes and Drew Barrymore have turned us on to witch hazel. Most over-the-counter formulas are alcohol-free (check the label), making it gentle enough to use everyday without over-drying.
Tell us it’ll clear, tone, and brighten our skin…we’re sold! Witch hazel is one of the oldest, and most effective beauty ingredients, and it’s got countless other uses. We’ve summed up 10 ways to get the most out of our $8 bottle of Thayer’s.
1. To fight acne and pimples
Arguably, the most popular use for witch hazel (in the beauty realm at least) is healing and treating acne blemishes. Witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce swelling, speeding up healing of skin inflammation (cough, cough, pimples), and its astringent properties break down dead skin cells and oil, in the process cleaning out pores to prevent build-up that can lead to pimples in the first place.
2. To de-puff unsightly under-eye bags
Tightens skin and reduces puffy bags under eyes…you know how some celebrities swear by Preparation H to combat under-eye puffiness (we know, weird but it works), same principal. Actually, most hemorrhoid ointments are made with witch hazel, because it reduces swelling, and since it’s all-natural, it’s gentle enough to use on delicate eye skin. Try: Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel De-Puffing Eye Gel ($12), de-puffs with witch hazel, revitalizes tired eyes with caffeine, and soothes with cucumber and aloe.
3. As an aftershave
Witch hazel is great as an aftershave to soothe razor burn and red bumps, and ease itchiness that can come from shaving…even preventing in-grown hairs. Hello, smooth bikini line!
4. To treat a bad sunburn
A sunburn is basically a skin inflammation and witch hazel is gentle enough (no burning!) to apply onto sun-damaged skin, cutting healing time in half and preventing the nasty peeling and flaking that comes from too many UVs.
5. As an anti-itch treatment
Witch hazel is an effective anti-itch remedy! So the next time we get itchy skin from over-washing with drying soaps or experience a mild rash, witch hazel applied topically (mix it in with a bit of petroleum jelly for application with ease) will take care of that itch. (Also, keep in mind the reason witch hazel is used in hemorrhoid ointments, wink.)
6. To treat dandruff
The same reason witch hazel is effective at reducing swelling and easing pain and discomfort from itchiness, witch hazel also helps to treat a flaky, itchy scalp and reduce dandruff. Apply a little to shampoo and lather as usual.
7. As a deodorant
Yep, a few drops of witch hazel applied directly to underarms will reduce odor, and won’t aggravate sensitive skin. (Optional: mix witch hazel with a few drops of lavender oil).
8. To soothe and heal bug bites and stings
It’s anti-inflammatory, eases pain, and itchiness, witch hazel on an annoying bug bite is a no brainer.
9. To ease a sore throat
As long as it’s alcohol-free, a witch hazel gargle can help ease a sore throat, reducing swelling, drying up excess mucus, and easing pain. An added bonus, a witch hazel gargle will also reduce pain and swelling of irritated gums.
10. To heal bruises
A bruise is, you got it, a skin inflammation. Because of it’s ability to reduce swelling, witch hazel has also been said to speed up the healing time of bruises. Apply witch hazel directly onto a bruise a couple times a day.
–Claudia Mercado is a beauty-obsessed writer living in Long Beach, CA.