Witch Hazel in Skincare: Uses, Benefits, and Best Practices

what is witch hazel

Before today's packaged skincare products, there were several ancient skin remedies that solved one or more skin conditions. These remedies are often made from raw plants and animals and undergo little to no refining. Witch hazel is among these many old remedies extracted from plants. It was used for its medical and cosmetic benefits and is still a major skin constituent in many products today.

Before we discuss the different benefits of witch hazel; what is witch hazel, and is witch hazel good for your face?

What is witch hazel?

Witch hazel is an effective old remedy that contains beneficial tannins and flavonoids. These flavonoids were extracted by grinding the leaves, bark, and twigs of the plant and then processed and stored for different uses. Witch hazel contains a complex composition of gallotannins and was originally used to treat hemorrhoids and pregnancy complications.

In today's products, most witch hazel for skin is distilled with alcohol. Hence, you should perform a patch test to avoid irritation. Beyond skin treatment, witch hazel is believed to cure dysentery and diarrhea, although there are no scientific reports to back these claims.

Witch Hazel uses

A recurring question concerning witch hazel uses include: Is witch hazel for face, and what does witch hazel do for skin? For many people interested in including witch hazel into their routine, this skim remedy is a natural astringent that can constrict the blood vessels, causing redness and inflammation.

This natural remedy also works great for puffiness and is a great after-shave to prevent ingrown hairs and razor burns. In addition, witch hazel is used as a soothing salve and can manage skin inflammation caused by underlying diseases. This plant-based remedy serves as an antibacterial potion and an oil control for acne-prone skin.

Witch hazel benefits on skin

Witch hazel benefits the skin by reducing irritation and prompting healing when applied to an inflamed area. It is used in many skin products to treat the following skin conditions:


For skin enthusiasts managing acne, it's common to ask questions like: Does witch hazel help with acne, or is witch hazel good for acne? Witch hazel is an excellent acne treatment for both inflammatory and noninflammatory acne. This remedy acts as an astringent to dry excess sebum and also acne hyperpigmentation.

witch hazel uses

Skin inflammation

Is witch hazel good for skin? Witch hazel has also been used as a form of treatment for skin-inflammatory conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Many cosmetics companies add witch hazel to their hair products to treat scalp psoriasis and other similar conditions.

Oil control

For people with oily skin, oil control has been a major source of concern, as excess sebum production contributes to acne. Since witch hazel is an astringent, it is also a good oil-control product. The benefits of witch hazel as toner help control oil production in the T-zone area. However, ensure you moisturize your skin to prevent total dryness.

witch hazel for skin

Reduces pore appearance

While the skin pores cannot expand or retract, witch hazel can help minimize the appearance of large skin pores and improve skin texture and appearance.

is witch hazel good for skin

How to Use Witch Hazel for Skin

There are different ways to incorporate witch hazel into face products to enjoy its many benefits. You can use witch hazel as a toner by pouring some onto a cotton pad and patting it onto your skin to dry. When you do this, avoid other harsh cleansers and chemical exfoliants containing either AHA or BHA to avoid further dryness and irritation.

To get rid of puffiness, particularly around your eyes, soak a cotton pad in witch hazel and place it over your puffy eyes. Ensure you close your eyes tightly to avoid burns. Another way to use witch hazel is to dip a clean swab into a witch hazel ointment and then apply the soaked swab to acne blemishes.

How Often Should I Use Witch Hazel?

You can apply witch hazel as many times as possible, as long as there are no adverse reactions whenever you use it. People with sensitive skin should apply witch hazel sparingly to prevent burns. We recommend using it 2 to 3 times every week before you use it daily.

Pregnant and nursing mothers must ask their doctors before incorporating witch hazel into their skin care regimen, since there is little information about the effects of witch hazel on breast milk.

Is witch hazel good for oily skin?

Witch hazel is marketed as a great product for people with oily or combination skin because of its astringent properties. While there are various benefits to witch hazel, the downside of using high-alcohol-based witch hazel products is rarely discussed.

Over-the-counter witch hazel products with a high alcohol content can increase sebum production and damage the skin barrier. Hence, opt for witch hazel products with little or no alcohol content.

Does witch hazel expire?

Does witch hazel expire? Witch hazel can expire, like every other natural-based product. Although it has a longer shelf life when compared to other products, witch hazel can expire, and using an expired product can worsen your skin condition.

However, it's essential to know that it can expire and must be disposed of once discovered. A good indicator of an expired witch hazel product is when its colors turn yellow, and even if it doesn't, check the expiration date on the product packaging to verify your suspicion. Another way to identify an expired witch hazel is through its scent. Good witch hazel smells woodsy, while expired witch hazel smells musty.

Witch hazel side effects

Witch hazel can cause some side effects if used incorrectly. This is particularly common in people with acne or sensitive skin, as their symptoms may worsen over time.

There has also been evidence that using witch hazel consistently causes further acne breakouts and dries out the skin. People who consume witch hazel may experience nausea and vomiting and be at risk of kidney or liver damage. Similarly, people with rosacea must consult a healthcare professional before using witch hazel, as they may experience the following witch hazel side effects:

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Redness
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Spots
  • Irritations
  • Dryness

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