Witch Hazel Benefits for Skin and How to Choose the Best Witch Hazel

Health benefits of witch hazel for skin is the main topic that we want to introduce to you today.

We will introduce you with health benefits and side effects, how to use it and how to make witch hazel tonic at home.

Witch hazel is a natural remedy made from the bark and leaves of a plant called Hamamelis virginiana. Long used in traditional medicine, witch hazel is usually applied topically to treat certain skin conditions.

Witch hazel contains tannins, a type of natural compound with astringent effects. By acting as an astringent, witch hazel helps to constrict skin tissue.

Proponents claim that witch hazel can heal a wide range of skin troubles, such as acne, bruises, burns, hemorrhoids, inflammation, insect bites, itching, pain, and varicose veins.

Also, some people use witch hazel as a toner (a type of skin-care product said to cleanse the skin and tighten pores).

While some proponents recommend the internal use of witch hazel for some conditions (such as diarrhea, colds, and even cancer), no evidence consuming witch hazel can enhance your health. Furthermore, oral intake of witch hazel may trigger several adverse effects.

Unfortunately, much like other herbal remedies, there are very few scientific studies backing the skin benefits of witch hazel.

But because it’s pretty easy on the wallet and, in general, doesn’t cause adverse effects (unless you’re allergic or have a pre-existing skin condition, such as rosacea), it might be worth giving it a whirl—particularly, if your skin’s on the oilier side.

Health Benefits Of Witch Hazel

Sunburn

Witch hazel may help treat sunburn when applied topically, according to a 2010 report published in the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology. The report’s authors also state that witch hazel may help shield the skin from damage induced by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Related: Sunburn As A Child Reason For Skin Cancer At Old Age

Skin Problems in Children

For a 2007 study from the European Journal of Pediatrics, researchers tested the effects of witch hazel on 309 children with minor skin injuries, diaper rash, or localized skin inflammation.

Seventy-eight of the study participants were treated with dexpanthenol ointment (a medication commonly used for skin disorders), while the other 231 children underwent treatment with witch hazel.

Study results revealed that both dexpanthenol ointment and witch hazel were similarly effective and well-tolerated by the subjects.

Skin Benefits 

Wards off signs of aging

The polyphenols witch hazel contains may help fight premature aging: “Theoretically, witch hazel may have antioxidant effects that help mitigate and prevent free radical damage to the skin from UV [rays] and oxidizing air pollution,” says Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD. Plus, its astringent properties can make your skin look firmer.

Tightens pores

“Witch hazel is a rich source of constricting compounds that make the proteins inside skin cells come together,” says Deborah Longwill, DO, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Miami Center for Dermatology.

The result? It temporarily makes your pores appear smaller.

Reduces inflammation

The natural tannins that witch hazel contains may temporarily calm the appearance of red, irritated, or blotchy skin, says Dr. Shainhouse, making it a handy product to have around when breakouts, insect bites, or a pesky sunburn are cramping your style.

Sops up oil

Witch hazel is extremely antioxidant-rich with tannins, which act as a natural astringent on the skin that can help to sop up excess oil, says Dr. Schlessinger. This is why it’s such a popular ingredient in toners and mattifying products.

Fights acne

Besides witch hazel is an astringent that decreases oil and redness, the antimicrobial properties of tannins can reduce bacteria growth on the skin, says NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules.

So not only can it show acne bacteria who’s boss, but reduce the irritation that can strike when breakouts do happen.

Soothes puffy eyes

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, witch hazel may reduce puffiness and soothe the under-eye area, says Dr. Longwill, while also providing a tightening effect.

Improves skin tone

Because witch hazel’s various properties refine the appearance of pores, reduce inflammation, and tighten the skin, this trifecta of perks adds up to an evener skin tone, says Dr. Longwill.

How to choose the best witch hazel for your skin

Go alcohol-free: Witch hazel is typically extracted with alcohol to create an astringent toner; however, “if the alcohol content is too high for your skin, it will dry out or cause disruption to the skin’s barrier function,” says Dr. Longwill.

For this reason, dermatologists recommend choosing a witch hazel product that’s alcohol-free—especially if you’re planning on making the ingredient a regular in your skincare routine.

Check for moisturizing ingredients: When purchasing witch hazel, Dr. Longwill recommends looking for products that also contain hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid or aloe vera, so that the delivery of the product isn’t too drying to the skin.

Do a patch test: To avoid an adverse reaction, read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any ingredients that you’re sensitive or straight-up allergic to, says Dr. Schlessinger.

If you’re not sure, test the product on a small, concentrated area of skin first—say, on your arm—to see if a reaction occurs before using it on your face.

Possible Side Effects

Witch hazel is generally considered safe when applied topically. Internal use is not recommended, due to concerns that the ingestion of witch hazel may cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, liver damage, and other adverse effects.

Dosage and Preparations

Witch hazel and witch hazel pads can be used liberally, however, some preparations contain alcohol, which can dry out and irritate the skin.

Even alcohol-free varieties may be irritating in large quantities, so keep an eye on your skin and how it reacts to witch hazel. Some people can tolerate multiple applications a day, while others should only use witch hazel daily or every other day.

Other Questions

Is witch hazel safe to ingest?

Though not fatal, ingesting witch hazel is potentially dangerous due to the tannins in the commercial product. If you or your child ingests witch hazel, contact poison control.

How can I use witch hazel to treat hemorrhoids?

Witch hazel comes in liquid form and as medicated pads and wipes that can be used to relieve the pain and itching of external hemorrhoids.

If using liquid witch hazel, apply to a cloth or cotton ball and wipe on the area. You can also use pads or wipes, and let them rest on the affected area for up to 3 minutes at a time.

Can I make witch hazel extract at home?

Yes! To make your witch hazel, soak 1 Tbs witch hazel bark in 1 cup of distilled water for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes covered. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes. Once cool, strain it and store it in a bottle.

Or you can buy witch hazel online, here. 

Conclusion: Witch hazel is mostly used for skin problems. It is recommended to use it topically and there are no side effects if used properly.

If you’re considering the use of witch hazel for a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician first.

References: prevention.com verywellhealth.com

Health benefits of witch hazel for skin

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