Witch hazel is a versatile AF astringent that’s used to treat beaucoup skin concerns. It’s known to tighten skin, soothe irritation, and treat acne. Here’s a deep dive into the nine best benefits of witch hazel for skin. We also have a step-by-step guide on how to use it, plus a rundown of the risks.
What is witch hazel?
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a shrub native to North America. The leaves and bark of the plant are used to make a solution that’s been used for centuries as a natural remedy for certain skin conditions.
It has astringent properties, which can help contract the skin and tighten pores. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory, so it can help reduce redness and swelling. That’s why peeps use it for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin probs.
As with many plant-based remedies, few scientific studies have been conducted to confirm the efficacy of witch hazel for the skin. But, there’s some evidence to suggest that it may offer certain benefits.
9 witch hazel skin benefits
Adding witch hazel to your skincare routine can offer a range of benefits for your skin. Here’s the DL.
1. Eases inflammation
Witch hazel contains substances with anti-inflammatory properties, including gallic acid and tannins. So it might help soothe your skin and reduce redness and swelling associated with inflammatory skin conditions.
2. Treats acne
On top of its anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel is also an astringent. That means it can help minimize oil, shrink pores, and soothe the skin. This makes it harder for sebum, gunk, and bacteria to cause clogged-up pores.
3. Reduces irritation
Lots of peeps have sensitive skin that can become easily irritated. If that’s you, reaching for natural products like witch hazel may help to reduce your risk of irritation.
Applying witch hazel to sensitive skin could reduce inflamed, irritated skin. One study found it can even reduce erythema (aka reddish skin) by up to 27 percent! Not too shabby.
4. Soothes sunburn
Too much fun in the sun can lead to a gnarly sunburn. If you find yourself turning into a lobster, witch hazel may help to ease your discomfort.
A 2015 study had folks apply either Rescue Gel — a blend of witch hazel, oat kernel extract, and a few other goodies — or 0.5% hydrocortisone cream to sunburnt skin. The researchers found that Rescue Gel significantly reduced erythema and water loss from the skin.
Psst. While witch hazel can help your skin bounce back from a sunburn, it’s always best to avoid getting burnt in the first place. Here’s a dope list of sunscreens for all skin types.
5. Tightens pores
As you age, skin loses elasticity and your pores may get larger. But don’t fret! Witch hazel may help to tighten them temporarily. The tannins in witch hazel work as an astringent to contract the proteins in the skin. The result? Your pores appear smaller.
6. Fights the signs of aging
Witch hazel is bursting with polyphenols which help fight premature aging. Phenolic compounds are strong antioxidants that may prevent free radical damage to the skin. Free radicals are reactive and unstable molecules that rush around, damaging cells and causing inflammation. And the result is wrinkles, fine lines, and a dull complexion.
Using antioxidant-packed witch hazel might help to defend skin against free radical damage. This can reduce your risk of fine lines and wrinkles. Just keep in mind, we need more research to show if this is legit.
7. Absorbs oils
Witch hazel is an astringent which can help shrink and constrict things like pores and skin tissue. It also removes oils that can make your skin look shiny.
So if you have oily skin, applying witch hazel may help soak up some excess oil and leave your skin feeling fresh and less greasy.
8. Pauses puffiness
Witch hazel might help reduce the appearance of swollen, puffy eyes. Its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties help to constrict skin and reduce swelling.
9. Improves skin tone
Because of the collective effects of witch hazel’s multiple beneficial properties, your skin will appear brighter, tighter, and with an improved skin tone. When used consistently, you may notice a fresher, more even complexion.
How to use witch hazel on the skin
Here’s how to use witch hazel for your skin concerns:
- Cleanse and dry your skin.
- Squirt some witch hazel onto a cotton ball or pad.
- Gently apply it to your skin using circular motions.
- Wait a few minutes for the witch hazel to dry before applying any other products.
- Repeat daily or as needed.
P.S. Be on the lookout for skin reactions. Stop using it ASAP use if you experience any redness, swelling, or other irritating symptoms.
Witch hazel side effects
Witch hazel is generally considered safe for most folks when used correctly. However, there are still some risks to look out for.
If you have a skin condition like eczema or acne, you should be careful as there are anecdotal reports of it causing excessive dryness and making breakouts worse.
Also, you should always opt for high-quality products. Go with something organic and alcohol-free. These options tend to be gentler on the skin and can reduce the risk of a reaction.
Patch test PSA: Do a small patch test before applying witch hazel to your entire face. To do this, simply dab a bit of the product on the back of your forearm. If you don’t notice any irritation after 24 hours, you should be good to go!
Witch hazel is a plant with long-standing medicinal purposes. Using witch hazel can help fight acne, reduce inflammation, soothe sunburn, and turn back the hands of time by improving the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
When using witch hazel on your skin, always choose an organic and alcohol-free product to minimize the risk of irritation.
Be sure to start with a small amount and increase gradually as needed. Stop using it right away if you notice any side effects like excessive dryness, redness, or irritation.