Witch hazel was used extensively by the Native Americans and early settlers for its beneficial medicinal properties.
It is becoming important again as we search for more natural products and medicines without harmful chemicals.
We have put together this list to help you learn more about witch hazel uses for health, beauty, pets, and around the house. Witch hazel benefits are numerous, and you can use witch hazel for acne, for cleaning, in your hair, and more.
What is Witch Hazel? What is Witch Hazel used for?
Witch hazel, as we know it, is an extract of the North American witch-hazel tree, Hamamelis virginiana. The bark and leaves are useful in traditional preparations, mostly topically. Witch hazel gets its medicinal properties from the tannins, flavonoids, essential oils, choline and saponins. Its properties make it highly effective in treating skin ailments of all kinds.
Here are the most important medicinal properties of witch hazel:
- Antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral
What is An Astringent?
An astringent is a substance that promotes the contraction of skin tissue, usually made with alcohol. In other words, an astringent tightens the skin and closes up pores, meaning less oil on your face. The alcohol in the astringent dries up whatever oil is left over.
Witch Hazel Uses for Your Skin
When applied topically, one of the many witch hazel uses is skin care since it is very soothing on the skin. It reduces minor inflammation and reduces swelling and redness. You’ll find many ways to use witch hazel on the skin, here are a few to get you started.
1. Prevent and Treat Acne
Witch hazel cleans the skin of dirt and excess oils that tend to clog pores and cause acne. Similar to hydrogen peroxide, witch hazel with the astringent properties dry the skin, and its disinfectant properties kill microbes that cause infection. It shrinks the pores and reduces skin inflammation.
Dampen a cotton ball with witch hazel and wipe it across your entire face and other places where you are prone to acne. Use it three or more times daily for best results. Because it treats the causes and effects of acne, it gets rid of blemishes and prevents new ones.
2. Remove Makeup
Use witch hazel on a cotton pad to remove makeup. As part of your nightly routine, it soothes the skin as it cleans and then tightens skin and pores. It leaves your skin with a healthy shine.
3. Treat Razor Burn
Witch hazel soothes skin irritated by shaving and closes the pores. By using witch hazel immediately after shaving, you can prevent those little red bumps you sometimes get after shaving. Apply witch hazel generously anywhere on the body where shaving irritation occurs.
4. Reduce Eye Puffiness and Under-Eye Bags
Those annoying under-eye bags have many causes, but usually, swelling of the tissue under the eye causes them. You might also have puffy eyes from crying, allergies, or fatigue.
Witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory properties reduce the swelling, and it tightens up the skin to reduce the overall puffiness and any redness. Just apply a little witch hazel over the eyelid and under the eye or follow our instructions below to use witch hazel as a soothing eye mask.
5. Tone Skin
Use witch hazel topically after cleaning your skin to clean out and tighten pores. It has antimicrobial properties that kill surface bacteria and reduces oil while it tightens the skin. Witch hazel is safe for most skin types, including sensitive skin.
To use witch hazel as a toner, wash your face and dry it, or use your regular skin cleanser routine. Pre-clean with castor oil and apply witch hazel to a cotton ball or pad and sweep it over your face and neck. It removes any last traces of dirt, makeup, or oil that might clog your pores.
6. Treat Oily Skin
Witch hazel does an excellent job of removing the dirt and oils from your skin. But, it goes a step further and balances your skin’s oil production. Use it one to three times daily, depending on the oiliness of your skin. You’ll soon notice that your skin is healthier and less oily.
7. Use Witch Hazel after Waxing
Apply witch hazel after waxing the same way you would after shaving. It closes the pores, reduces irritation and tones the skin. Soak a cotton ball in witch hazel and apply immediately after waxing. Witch hazel is safe to use, even in your most sensitive areas.
8. Reduce Scars and Stretch Marks
Witch hazel is an excellent tonic for scarred skin and tightly stretched skin. Pregnant and breastfeeding women use witch hazel wipes over the stretched belly and breasts to reduce stretch marks, even out the skin tone, and make scars less noticeable.
9. Moisturize Dry, Itchy Skin
Apply witch hazel immediately after a bath or shower to close the pores and lock in moisture. Witch hazel moisturizes the skin, soothes the irritation, and relieves itchy sensations.
10. Remove Hair Dye from Skin
Hair dye always seems to end up on the skin in the most unwelcome spots. Like so many natural cleansers, witch hazel is great to remove hair dye from skin. Use a little witch hazel on a cotton pad to remove hair dye stains while they are fresh. For large stains, you may need to change the pad. Keep scrubbing until all stains are gone.
11. Treat Blackheads
Just as witch hazel is effective against acne, use it to treat blackheads as well. Just use it as a toner immediately after you finish washing your face and you’ll notice a decrease in black- and whiteheads.
Witch Hazel Uses for Hair and Scalp
12. Use Witch Hazel Between Shampoos
Remove excess oil from the scalp with a quick cleaning between shampoos. Dilute one part witch hazel with nine parts water. Use the tip of a clean cloth to dab the mixture around your hairline, down the part, and in oily areas.
The diluted witch hazel reduces oil production and distributes excess oil. It will leave your hair fresher looking for the day.
13. Use Witch Hazel for Dandruff
Witch hazel combats dandruff and flaking by moisturizing and conditioning the scalp. Rub witch hazel into the scalp before shampooing. You can also use witch hazel between shampoos to condition your scalp and remove excess oil.
Witch Hazel Benefits for Health
14. Heal Bruises
The anti-inflammatory and hemostatic properties of witch hazel make it an excellent treatment for swollen areas and injuries.
Apply witch hazel to swollen or bruised skin three times daily. The witch hazel reduces swelling and speeds healing.
15. Prevent and Heal Cold Sores
As soon as you feel the beginning of a cold sore, dab on a little witch hazel. Witch hazel can get rid of cold sore overnight. It calms the inflammation and prevents it from progressing to the blister stage. Use it regularly on existing cold sores to speed healing.
16. Heal Sore Gums and Mouth
Witch hazel shrinks the inflammation and helps heal sore gums and mouth sores. Swish witch hazel around the mouth after brushing and spit it out.
17. Soothe a Sore Throat and Laryngitis
For a sore throat and laryngitis, use the healing power of witch hazel tea. Either gargle the tea or drink it. For added pain relief, add a couple of cloves to the leaves before brewing or a single drop of clove oil after brewing. You’ll find the complete recipe below in the How To section.
18. Clean and Heal Minor Cuts
Use witch hazel to clean scrapes and then continue to apply it until the cut has healed. Witch hazel soothes the skin, prevents infection, and encourages healing.
19. Soothe and Clear Diaper Rash
Witch hazel soothes diaper rash and helps the irritated skin heal. Apply witch hazel to a cotton ball and gently apply to baby’s skin, or put witch hazel in a spray bottle and spritz the affected areas.
20. Soothe Hemorrhoids
Witch hazel reduces inflammation, relieves itching and burning, stops bleeding, and helps the hemorrhoids heal. Chill your witch hazel in the refrigerator to use as a cold compress. Soak a cotton pad with cold witch hazel and hold it in place as long as possible.
21. Temporary Relief from Varicose Veins
Witch hazel helps tighten varicose veins and relieves pain. Prop your feet up and wrap your legs with washcloths soaked with witch hazel.
22. Witch Hazel Benefits for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
Witch hazel reduces inflammation and itching and helps dry up the rash caused by poison ivy and poison oak. Apply witch hazel three times daily to the affected area with a cotton ball. Work from the outside of the rash inward, being careful not to spread the inflammation to new areas.
23. Witch Hazel Benefits for Sunburn
Soothe sunburned skin with a cooling application of witch hazel. Witch hazel is excellent at reducing the inflammation and swelling caused by sunburn, conditions and moisturizes the skin, and helps it heal.
Dab it on with a cotton ball or, for large areas, spray it on.
24. Witch Hazel for Bug Bites
Dab a little witch hazel on bug bites. The anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties act to relieve the itching, burning, and inflammation from insect bites.
25. Witch Hazel Soothe Chicken Pox Blisters
Once again the anti-itching and anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial, helping soothe the irritation and blisters caused by chicken pox. Mix equal parts water and witch hazel and dab it on each blister or spray the affected areas. Let it dry on the skin and apply as often as needed.
26. Anti-Aging Properties of Witch Hazel
The compounds in witch hazel protect the skin from damage caused by sun exposure, including skin cancer, melanoma, wrinkles, and fine lines. It prevents the multiplication of tumor cells and protects healthy skin cells. It also tightens the skin and helps reduces scars and inflammation.
27. Anti-Cancer Properties
Researchers at the University of Barcelona have published a study showing that witch hazel extracts inhibited the proliferation of colon cancer cells and caused the death of existing cancerous cells. This preliminary study done in Petri dishes, but it shows that witch hazel has a promising future and needs more studies. (..)
28. Prevent Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s ear is a bacterial infection that usually develops when ears are wet from swimming. The antibacterial activity of witch hazel naturally inhibits the growth of the infection and dries up excess oil and ear wax. Drop a few drops of witch hazel extract into the ear canal using an eye dropper two to three times daily. Clean the outside parts of the ear with a swab dipped in witch hazel.
29. Witch Hazel Benefits for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a painful skin disease that causes lesions consisting of dry, flaky skin. Witch hazel is soothing and moisturizing; it reduces redness and inflammation caused by psoriasis.
Try our Soothing Witch Hazel Gel for Skin Irritations found in the recipe section below. It soothes psoriasis and relieves the main irritations of psoriasis plaques.
30. Witch Hazel Benefits for Eczema
Eczema is considered an inflammatory skin condition caused by an allergic reaction or other inflammatory irritations. It causes dry, red, irritated and itchy skin. Sufferers tend to scratch, which leads to raw skin and cracking. Witch hazel is good and relieving the itching, calming the redness and irritation.
Apply witch hazel directly to the irritated skin, or use our Anti-Itch Formula found in the recipe section below.
31. Witch Hazel Benefits for Hives and Allergic Reactions
Hives are a rash caused by allergies, stress, or some other unknown reason. The irritation leaves a red, itchy, inflamed rash on the skin. Witch hazel works to relieve hives and allergic reactions by suppressing the inflammatory response and soothing the skin. It also shrinks the blood vessels on the skin, calming the histamine response.
To Use Witch Hazel for Hives and Allergic Rashes:
- Apply the witch hazel to a cotton pad or cloth and place it on the affected skin
- Keep the moist pad on the skin for 10 to 15 minutes
- Remove pad and allow the skin to dry naturally
32. Witch Hazel Use as an Antiperspirant
Witch hazel regulates the oil production of the skin, removes excess oil, and kills bacteria on the skin that cause odor problems. With regular use, it acts as an antiperspirant, but it may take a few days to get perspiration regulated. Use a deodorant as needed.
33. Improve Your Mood
Combine witch hazel with essential oils to create a fragrance that will not only smell great but improve your mood as well. To use witch hazel as a fragrance, you simply need to combine it with your favorite essential oil (in this example, I’ll be using lavender). Combine water, lavender, witch hazel, and lemon essential oil in a spray bottle and spray it around the house, especially in places where you spend a lot of time — such as your favorite chair. Not only will your house smell fantastic, but you’ll feel calmer, and your mood will improve substantially.
Witch Hazel Benefits By Mouth
You need to be careful taking witch hazel by mouth. High doses can cause liver or kidney damage, but according to WebMD, small doses are safe. To take witch hazel internally, make a tea from witch hazel bark or leaves. I’ve supplied a recipe below, to be used three times daily, for safe and efficient use. Rarely, you may experience stomach upset when taking witch hazel.
Use witch hazel tea to treat:
- Coughing up blood or internal bleeding of any kind
- Unusual or excessive menstrual bleeding
- Colds and fevers
Because there are limited studies on the witch hazel’s internal uses, it should not be used by pregnant women or children.
Witch Hazel Uses for Pets
34. Use Witch Hazel to Remove Ticks
Ticks are repelled by witch hazel and will let go when they come into contact with it. To use witch hazel to remove ticks, follow these steps:
- You will need tweezers and witch hazel.
- When you are ready, pour a capful of witch hazel on the tick.
- Grab the tick firmly with tweezers and pull the tick away.
- Apply more witch hazel to the area to disinfect it.
35. Clean Your Pet’s Ears
Clean your pet’s ears gently by dampening a cotton ball or pad with witch hazel. Gently wipe the visible parts of the inside of the ear. Do not pour witch hazel into the ear or use a cotton swab.
36. Remove Pet Odors
Witch hazel is excellent for removing pet odors from furniture, floors and bedding areas. All you need is Witch Hazel, water, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (like lavender). Mix the ingredients together in a spray bottle and apply to the solution to the places your pet likes to spend time, such as on the furniture or bedding. Or, you can apply it directly to your pet.
Witch Hazel Uses for Cleaning
37. Make an Air Freshener
Witch hazel is a natural way to remove stale odors in the air or on fabrics. Follow this formula:
- Mix one cup witch hazel with two cups water in a spray bottle.
- Add ½ teaspoon of pleasant-smelling essential oil such as orange oil, lavender, eucalyptus, or cedar.
- Shake and spray on fabrics or to clear stale smells.
38. Clean Your Jewelry
Use witch hazel undiluted to clean jewelry. Soak the piece in witch hazel, then dry. Or wipe the jewelry down with a cotton ball or cotton swab moistened with witch hazel.
39. Mop Floors
Witch hazel is an excellent cleaning solution for linoleum, tile, or vinyl floors. It strips away old wax that causes yellowing and removes dirt.
It is also antiseptic, killing germs and other microbes that might be present on the floor surface.
Use our Witch Hazel Mop Solution recipe.
40. Use as a Household Cleaner
Witch hazel makes a very effective household cleaner, either alone or combined with other solutions.
Try witch hazel for cleaning using these formulas:
- Use witch hazel undiluted on glass, mirrors, stainless steel, and chrome. It leaves surfaces germ-free and streak-free.
- Combine witch hazel with lemon juice and baking soda to make a very mild cleanser. Use on bathroom countertops and faucets.
Recipes for Witch Hazel Benefits and Uses
How to Use Witch Hazel to Reduce Eye Puffiness
Make an eye mask to remove bags and general eye puffiness following this procedure:
- Remove makeup and clean your skin.
- Dab witch hazel onto several cotton pads, you want them wet, but not dripping.
- Close your eyes and place the cotton pads over the eyelids and under eye areas.
- Keep your eyes closed for 10 to 15 minutes or until the puffiness is reduced.
- Remove the cotton pads and repeat if needed, or continue with your moisturizing routine.
How to Make Witch Hazel Tea
Witch hazel tea, like many teas made with natural ingredients, boasts a variety of benefits. Drink it if you’re having respiratory problems or a sore throat.
Its calming effects on the lungs make it good if someone is experiencing an asthma attack – soak a warm compress with the tea and lay it across the neck and chest of the individual experiencing the attack.
To make it, add Witch Hazel leaves and/or bark to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 45 minutes and drink it as is, or use honey to sweeten it.
Soothing Witch Hazel Gel for Skin Irritations
Use witch hazel to treat skin irritations, like chafing and poison ivy.
All you need to do is combine witch hazel with Aloe Vera Gel, glycerine, and Argon oil.
Then, apply the mixture to the skin after taking a bath or a shower.
In a one cup glass spray bottle, combine 7 ounces of witch hazel extract (no-alcohol formula) and 1 ounce neem oil.
Shake vigorously and use on a small area of skin to make sure it is not too strong for you. If you have a reaction, decrease the neem oil and try again. Some people react to high concentrations of neem oil.
Shake before use and spray on itchy skin, reapplying as needed.
Witch Hazel Treatment for Acne and Blemishes
Witch Hazel contains tannins, which makes it a fantastic astringent and means you can use it to reduce the oiliness of skin.
In fact, many health and beauty products use witch hazel extract for its astringent and antioxidant properties.
To use Witch Hazel to combat acne, mix witch hazel with water and tea tree oil, and then apply to the affected areas using a cotton swab.
Witch Hazel Facial Toner
This toner tightens the skin, kills surface bacteria, and nourishes the skin.
In a 2-ounce bottle combine witch hazel, vitamin C powder, tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, and shake well.
Apply daily after washing the face. Make a new batch every 5 to 7 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Witch Hazel and What is Witch Hazel Made Of?
Witch hazel is the extract of the leaves and bark of the Hamamelis virginiana shrub or tree. The leaves or bark are boiled in water to make witch hazel water which contains all of the medicinal properties of the plant. Traditional medicine uses witch hazel water as a tea and for topical use.
A more modern witch hazel product contains alcohol, available in most supermarkets. The alcohol acts as a preservative for the solution but is not necessary for the medicinal properties. For many uses, the alcohol may burn, and witch hazel water products are a better choice. You can also find witch hazel in soaps, salves, gels, lotions, creams, and ointments.
As a medicinal ingredient and topical agent, witch hazel water is considered an over-the-counter drug. It is used most often to treat and soothe skin irritations.
Is Witch Hazel Safe?
Witch hazel is completely safe to use on the skin; however, some people may have a minor reaction to it. Severe allergic reactions are rare.
If you have sensitive skin or skin allergies, always do a Patch Test before using a new product on your skin. Here is how:
- Choose a small area of sensitive skin for the patch test. A good spot is on the neck, just below the hairline.
- Dab a small amount of the product on the skin.
- Expect a little tingle or pinkness immediately; this is not a problem.
- Check the area after 30 minutes and again the next day.
- If there is no reaction or rash, you are not sensitive to the product.
What Does Witch Hazel Do?
Witch hazel possesses quite a few medicinal properties. You’ll find the most important ones listed at the beginning of the article. Most people use witch hazel for skin irritations of all kinds and find it effective as an astringent and tonic. It reduces fevers, redness, and swelling. It also constricts blood vessels in the skin to reduce or stop blood flow.
With regular use, witch hazel regulates the oil flow in the pores of the skin and scalp, treating both dry skin and oily skin. It is initially drying on the skin when using alcohol preparations, but in time moisturizes the skin and helps it heal.
Where Can I Find Witch Hazel?
You will find witch hazel preparations online and in your drug store or local pharmacy. Main brands for witch hazel are Thayer’s, Humphrey’s and Dickinson’s. Typical preparations include alcohol, so read the label and make sure you are getting the type you want.
You will usually find alcohol preparations labeled as witch hazel and non-alcohol preparations labeled as witch hazel water.
What is the Best Witch Hazel?
You will find many different brands of witch hazel preparations on the market. Some are excellent; others are diluted and not as effective. The best witch hazel is made fresh from leaves and bark and used within a week of preparation. You will find the method below.
Thayer’s Witch Hazel is a brand that has been in use for a long time and is well regarded; however, other brands work equally well.
How to Make Witch Hazel Water (No Alcohol Formula)?
In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, add:
- 4 ounces Hamamelis virginiana bark or leaves.
- Water to cover.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow the concoction to cool completely, covered.
- Filter the witch hazel water.
- Keep in the refrigerator and use within a week, or freeze for longer-term storage.
How to Make Witch Hazel (With Alcohol for Long Term Storage)?
In a pot with a tight fitting lid, add:
- 4 ounces Hamamelis virginiana bark or leaves.
- Water to cover.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow the concoction to cool completely, covered.
- Filter the witch hazel water.
- Measure the witch hazel water.
- For every cup of witch hazel water, add 3 1/2 ounces of vodka or grain alcohol.
- Use within 2 to 3 months.
What are Witch Hazel Pads?
What do Witch Hazel Pads Do?
Witch hazel pads are a convenient way to use witch hazel. They are thin cotton pads that have been pre-moistened with witch hazel and possibly other soothing ingredients. Witch hazel pads are commonly used for hemorrhoids, for postpartum pain, and swelling.
Witch hazel pads shrink swollen tissues and blood vessels, reducing bleeding and irritation. They soothe the skin, reduce itching, and help it heal. You can tuck a witch hazel pad onto an area of swollen or irritated skin for quick, soothing relief.
You will find several brands of pre-moistened witch hazel pads available, or you can make your own:
To make witch hazel pads, you can soak cotton pads in witch hazel and apply to the affected area.
It is best to use a witch hazel solution that does not contain alcohol, to avoid stinging, especially if there are breaks in the skin.
Is Witch Hazel Antibacterial?
Yes, witch hazel has antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. It kills bacteria on the skin and surfaces.
Is Witch Hazel Safe for Dogs?
Yes, not only is external witch hazel safe for dogs, but it soothes and heals their skin the same way that it treats human skin. Witch hazel is also safely used as homemade dog ear cleaner.
Any Witch Way You Like It
Witch hazel uses and benefits are numerous. It is a wonderful skin cleanser, also a useful household product for cleaning and antiseptic use. In generations past, it was found in almost every medicine cabinet and used daily.
But times have changed, and now we tend to use 10 or 20 different products, each for a different use or benefit when one would do the job just as well.
In this article, you learned more than 40 terrific witch hazel uses and benefits. You now know a variety of purposes for the plant, from witch hazel for acne to witch hazel tea.
Did we miss any uses for witch hazel? If you know of one that we have left out, please add it below and share this article on social media so that more people can learn about the uses and benefits of this amazing natural healer.