Is Witch Hazel Good for Skin: Everything You Need to Know

Is Witch Hazel worth all the rave? Should you consider including it in your skincare routine? If your head is bombarded by these questions and you want to know how and why is witch hazel good for your skin, then you have come to the right place.

If you are a skincare enthusiast, then continue reading as we break down the process of how witch hazel works, and how is witch hazel good for skin1, along with some uses and benefits of incorporating it into your skincare routine.

What is Witch Hazel?

Witch hazel is a plant or more specifically a deciduous shrub and three of its species are native to North America, of which Hamamelis Virginiana is the species that is often used for making skincare products.

It is the witch hazel extract obtained from the leaves and barks of this plant, which is used as ointments and medicines or added into herbal teas, and also widely used as an ingredient in skincare products or even as a product itself.

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Image by Jennifer Dunne @flickr/copyright 2022

Witch hazel is an astringent and a study has found that it contains compounds having anti-inflammatory properties such as gallic acids2 and tannins.

Another study found that the leaves and barks of witch hazel contain up to 10% tannins, contributing to its astringent properties.3

Witch hazel also contains antioxidants and has antiseptic properties and is used as an ointment and even ingested as medicine.

Witch hazel can also be used to soothe the skin from bug bites, insect bites, rashes, and even hemorrhoids. In addition to that, it also has health benefits and is used for diarrhea, colds, fever, and tuberculosis.

Witch hazel water or white water is a clear and colorless liquid and is prepared by the process of steam distillation4, using dried leaves and dormant twigs of witch hazel. It is a widely used product for skin treatments.

Is Witch Hazel Good for Skin?

Having learned about all these wonderful properties contained in witch hazel let us look into some of the benefits of witch hazel and how is witch hazel good for skin.

1. A Natural Cleanser and Toner for Oily Skin

Witch hazel is a natural astringent which helps to remove excess oil from the skin without drying it out. Hence it is a good option for those with oily skin types.

It is also able to deeply penetrate the pores of your skin and cleanse it thoroughly. Moreover, due to its ability to strip off excess oil, it is a popular ingredient in many mattifying skin products.

It is also a good alternative to regular alcohol-based toners as alcohol can dry out the skin too much in the long run and be harsh on the skin. Hence it serves as a good alcohol-free toner.5

witch hazel as a toner and cleanser
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels/Copyright 2022

For best results, wash your face and then apply witch hazel by simply soaking a cotton pad or a cotton ball with witch hazel and gently wiping or dabbing it into the skin.

Do remember to moisturize your face generously after using witch hazel. You can also opt for witch hazel products or products with witch hazel as one of the ingredients.

2. Helps to Fight Acne

If you are someone with acne-prone skin, witch hazel may help in fighting off acne. Due to its ability to remove excess oil, it prevents clogging of pores which is a reason for the cause of acne.

Witch hazel products such as toners which have zero alcohol content also do not dry out the skin, which is important because drying out the skin too much will lead to skin secreting more oil and hence will lead to clogging pores and result in more breakouts.

Moreover, witch hazel contains anti-inflammatory properties which help to reduce inflammation and reduce redness in the skin.

In addition to that, the tannins in witch hazel give it anti-bacterial properties that help reduce the growth of bacteria responsible for causing acne6.

acne
Photo by Anna Nekrashevich from Pexels/Copyright 2022

3. Prevents Premature Anti-aging

Witch hazel contains anti-oxidants which are responsible for fighting the free radicals that cause damage to our cells which ultimately leads to aging.

The anti-aging benefit may also be attributed to witch hazel polyphenols as research has found that polyphenols are effective in reducing the aging of the skin.7

Witch hazel is also known to tighten the pores and the skin temporarily which makes the skin appear firm, thereby reducing the sagging of skin. It is due to the tannins present in it that tend to compress the proteins in the skin.

4. Reduces Inflammation

A major reason why is witch hazel good for the skin is due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This is because these properties help to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation due to skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema.

Using witch hazel can help soothe skin irritation, which is why so. many ointments and lotions contain witch hazel as one of the main ingredients.

IS WITCH HAZEL GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN? | DR DRAY

5. Treats Sunburn

Sunburns are not only unappealing but can also be painful. Although it takes time to alter the effects of sunburn, it can be soothed by using witch hazel.

Due to the presence of anti-inflammatory tannins, you can use witch hazel to treat painful sunburn. This will greatly help reduce the inflammation and also soothe the skin.

A cotton pad soaked in witch hazel can be applied topically on the sunburn. This will help reduce the pain and discomfort giving a calming effect on the affected area.

6. Soothes razor burns

We have all experienced those inflamed burns left behind by razors on our skin. It also renders our skin itchy and with a rough texture that can be very uncomfortable.

Witch hazel may be used to relieve the irritation and also reduce the chances of getting razor bumps. The presence of tannins in witch hazel also helps to soothe and calm the skin effectively.

razor burns
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels/Copyright 2022

Do Make sure that the witch hazel product is alcohol-free or has a very low alcohol content as products with a high alcohol content will only dry out the damaged skin and cause more irritation.

7.  Soothes Skin After Waxing

Waxing, though effective, tends to be painful and leaves our skin feeling sensitive and needing care. Witch hazel does a perfect job of calming down your skin after waxing.

It is also a better option than lotions or cream after waxing as it does not clog up the pores and prevents further irritation.

8.  Reduces Stretch Marks

It is completely normal to develop some stretch marks on our skin. It develops due to our skin stretching and stretching at a rate faster than what can be handled by the collagen in our skin.

If you are looking for a remedy for stretch marks, then witch hazel may help reduce them. It helps to tighten the skin around the stretch marks and minimize the appearance of scars.

Many pregnant women often use witch hazel to prevent stretch marks.

When Not to Use Witch Hazel?

After knowing why is witch hazel good for your skin, you might be extremely eager to start incorporating it into your skincare routine immediately, however, here are some things to consider before diving fully into it.

  • If you are someone with sensitive skin, it is advisable to first do a patch test before applying it directly on sensitive areas such as your face.
  • If you are also someone who has dry skin, you might want to skip using witch hazel as it may dry out your skin too much and lead to irritation and redness, and ultimately destroy your skin barrier.
  • It is recommended to opt for products that contain hydrating ingredients along with witch hazel, such as hyaluronic acid or aloe vera to recuperate the hydration.
woman applying moisturizer
Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA from Pexels/Copyright 2022
  • If you want to purchase witch hazel toner, do remember to look out for one which is alcohol-free. You can also follow up with an effective moisturizer to prevent the skin from drying out.
  • It is also advisable to consult a board-certified dermatologist if you have conditions like eczema, before trying out witch hazel as a remedy.

In conclusion, witch hazel has many properties that make it a star ingredient in a lot of skincare products. It is however best to take proper measures before using it, especially for those with sensitive skin.

FAQs:

Q. Does witch hazel improve skin tone?
  • Witch hazel is proven to heal minor skin issues like inflammation, acne, insect bites, irritation, dryness, and much more. Beauty experts recommend it for solving skincare issues like under-eye puffiness, active acne, open pores, uneven skin tone, etc.
Q. Can I use witch hazel every day?
  • In general, Dr. Shamban says you can use your witch hazel toner anywhere from twice a week to every day, depending on how your skin responds. But when it comes to an alcohol-based astringent, don’t overdo it.
Q. What is the pH of witch hazel?
  • In the case of Witch Hazel, the resulting pH is 3.0 – 5.0. The product acts as a healing anti-irritant and mild therapeutic astringent used to remove and control oils and reduce and relieve inflamed tissues.
  1. Trüeb, Ralph M. “North American virginian witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): based scalp care and protection for sensitive scalp, red scalp, and scalp burn-out.” International journal of trichology 6.3 (2014): 100-103. ↩︎
  2. Badhani, Bharti, Neha Sharma, and Rita Kakkar. “Gallic acid: A versatile antioxidant with promising therapeutic and industrial applications.” Rsc Advances 5.35 (2015): 27540-27557. ↩︎
  3. Laaksonen, Oskar. “Astringent food compounds and their interactions with taste properties.” Department of Biochemistry and Food Chemistry. Functional Foods Forum. University of Turku, 2011. ↩︎
  4. Cassel, E., et al. “Steam distillation modeling for essential oil extraction process.” Industrial crops and products 29.1 (2009): 171-176. ↩︎
  5. Toner, Indie Lee CoQ10. “7 CoQ10 Skincare Products That Energize and Protect Your Skin.” ↩︎
  6. Kumar, Bipul, et al. “New insights into acne pathogenesis: Exploring the role of acne-associated microbial populations.” Dermatologica sinica 34.2 (2016): 67-73. ↩︎
  7. Hashizume, Hideo. “Skin aging and dry skin.” The Journal of dermatology 31.8 (2004): 603-609. ↩︎

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Choimei Moileen Semdok

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