Witch hazel is a flowering shrub found in North American and Japan. Its leaf, bark, and twigs contain tannins that have medicinal qualities. When distilled into a liquid, witch hazel is a common over-the-counter analgesic found in many medicine cabinets. You may have used witch hazel to combat minor cuts, but the natural remedy has many other applications. Find out how else you can be using this $3 drugstore staple.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel is effective at soothing many skin irritations, such as hemorrhoids, diaper rash, and eczema. Preparation H cite it as a key ingredient in several of its products as it “can help cool, soothe, and provide temporary relief from the burning, itching, and discomfort of hemorrhoids.” (It is similarly recommended and effective to ease post-birth perineal discomfort.) You can apply witch hazel directly using a clean cotton pad.
Witch hazel is a hemostatic herb, meaning it can shorten the clotting time of blood. Applying alcohol-free witch hazel directly to minor wounds can help reduce bleeding. Because it promotes clotting and reduces swelling, it can also help reduce discoloration from bruising.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent, meaning it “draws tissues together and constricts blood vessels,” according to WebMD. When applied directly to your skin, it causes your pores to contract, giving a “temporary tightening feeling to the skin.”
Witch hazel is effective at removing excess oil that can build up and clog pores, causing breakouts. (Soap cleans surface oil, but witch hazel’s astringency can penetrate more deeply into the skin, removing oil from the pores.) Its tannins have natural antibacterial properties, further protecting skin against blemishes. It’s advisable to use witch hazel that has not been distilled with alcohol, as that can be overly-drying to skin.
A study published in the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology revealed that plant extracts from witch hazel “contain antioxidant polyphenolic compounds that may protect the skin from sunburn and photoaging when administered topically or systemically.” The researches found that applying witch hazel topically to sunburned skin demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects. According to Healthlinemixing witch hazel with aloe vera gel or peppermint oil enhances its cooling effect.
ease razor burn
When we shave, the outer layer of our skin is disrupted by our razor, leading to cracks and bumps that can burn, sting, and itch. As Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, told Insider, witch hazel can be used after shaving to “remove residue left on the skin, calm inflammation, and minimize the risk of developing razor bumps.”
Most of our research advised to use witch hazel as a short-term solution, not as a long-term fix for persistent skin irritations.