Beauty has the direct connection with the healthiness of the skin. There are several brands out in the market, displaying various cosmetic products, claiming to treat your skin like magic. These products come in the form of toner, cleansing milk, scrubs, acne gel and several others. But all these products might contain harmful chemicals, and they cannot match to any natural and herbal options. Witch Hazel is such an age-old natural and herbal remedy, which can treat various skin ailments like acne, bruises, hemorrhoids, poison ivy, inflammation, eczema, ingrown hairs, Insect bite, Sunburn, Itchy scalp, allergic reactions, etc. Benefits of witch hazel are known since ancient times when chemical based cosmetic products were not available.
After so much of research, FDA has approved Witch Hazel has as the most effective natural treatment for acne. Let’s dig deeper and understand what is witch hazel in detail and also secrets behind its healing properties.
What is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel is a flowering plant from the family Hamamelidaceae. This plant is native to North America and also known as Winterbloom. It is originally used to make natural astringent that can clear your face up from acne, blisters, and burns.
Also, it has strong antibacterial and antioxidant property, which enables it to fight bacterial growth and prevent cells damage. It is successfully used in many cosmetic products like serums, shaving creams, aftershave, etc.
Witch hazel has polyphenols and tannins that act as an active component and are extracted from the leaves, barks, and twig of the plant. They are processed and the active component is extracted out which is then mixed either in alcohol or water.
You can get With Hazel as this concentrated solution is the market. The solution can be used either internally or externally as and when required.
Tannins, one of the primary ingredient of the astringents, have an oil clearing property. This is the reason behind its use as a favorite acne treatment gel. It is responsible for clearing out all the dirt, environmental pollutants and oil from the skin thus making it clear and healthy.
Another component in Witch Hazel is polyphenol, which acts as an antioxidant. According to a study it has been known to prevent cancerous cell growth by a process called apoptosis which is programmed cell death (1).
The UV light exposure leads to damage to DNA due to free radicals. Polyphenols are known to protect this damage and hence prevent cancer and acts as an anti-aging agent as well (2).
Benefits of Witch Hazel
Our skin acts as a physical barrier to prevent entry of any harmful bacteria. A breach in the continuity of skin leads to infection. Those infections can either in the form of acne or inflammation or any other problem. Witch Hazel can almost cure every kind of skin infections and that too naturally.
In a study, it was found that people are gradually shifting to natural based herbal treatments for dermatologic disorders (3). In short, there are several benefits of Witch Hazel that you can improve your skin and general health as well.
Witch Hazel helps in acne treatment. It makes it possible by reducing inflammation, redness, itching, and oiliness. Its antibacterial property makes it possible in reducing the growth of bacteria and heal acne (4).
It’s another property is to shrink the pores of the skin. You can wet a cotton ball with Witch Hazel solution along with a carrier oil and tap wherever you have acne, itching or redness on the skin.
It will reduce the pore size and gradually acne will go away. To get better results, use this herbal solution with coconut oil or jojoba oil.
This herbal plant has antioxidant compounds, which can protect the skin from sun damage such as sunburn. Also, its anti-inflammatory properties can be useful in after sun creams to decrease the skin damage.
It soothes redness and prevents the loss of skin’s moisture when applied to irritated skin.
Cleanse hair and increase the volume of hair
Witch Hazel acts as an astringent and thus washes out oil from the scalp. It also prevents any infection, dryness or irritation of the scalp.
According to a study, people using shampoos with Witch Hazel as an ingredient, reported less itching, redness, and irritation of scalp as compared to other products without it (5).
You can also make your hair treatment solution by adding this herbal extract, carrier oil, and some hair cleansing agent. This will not only nourish your scalp but also increases the volume of your hairs.
Cure insect bite
This herb contains isopropyl alcohol that calms down the redness and inflammation caused by the insect bite. People depend on chemical-based ointments for mosquito bite or some other bugs bite. But Witch Hazel can be a worthy replacement.
Just dap the bite with cotton soaked in Hazel solution. And it will soothe your skin like any other cream.
Prevents premature aging
Witch Hazel helps you fight against skin cancers, melanoma (6) and freckles. It enables you to avoid premature aging by fighting wrinkles, blemishes and skin dullness. It has a property of keeping collagen and elastic fibers intact and thus maintaining the elasticity of the skin.
You can mix it with other ingredients like Vitamin E capsule and use as a homemade serum for getting healthy skin.
Prevents ingrown hairs and rashes
When you shave, there can be little cuts or razor burns. To avoid any itching, bleeding and bacterial growth, you can dab Witch Hazel on the wound and forget about the discomfort.
It also helps prevent the growth of ingrown hairs. Some people even prefer using it after waxing or trimming hairs.
Heals a sore throat
Some people prefer witch hazel tea over its extract and water. The soothing action of this herb helps the patient to get relief from a cough, sore throat, strep throat and other throat infections as well. You can also add ginger juice to hazel tea to get better results.
Prevents oral ulcers
People tend to have oral ulcers due to some vitamin deficiency or because of stress. These ulcers are red in appearance, inflamed and cause a lot of pain. You can treat by using Witch Hazel extract with coconut or jojoba oil.
Apply the solution on the affected part, and you will see the positive result within a few days. It has also found its use with clove oil for getting relief from a toothache.
Save pets from bug bites
Witch hazel has antibacterial properties and thus inhibits the growth of bacteria on the skin of pets. Also, it is non-irritating on pet’s skin. It reduces itching, redness, and any infection on their skin.
It prevents insect bite by repellent action. Use it by adding it in alcohol or water, and carrier oil. Fill the mixed solution in a spray bottle, so that you can spray it on your pets (7).
Prevents ear infection
Those who are having pain in ears or some infection can get relief by using this herbal extract. It has an antibacterial property which prevents bacterial growth in the ear and thus gives you a relief.
Just use a dropper to put it in your ears several times a day. You can also use it to clean external ear surface.
Provides temporary relief in varicose or enlarged Veins
Gnarled or varicose veins can cause pain, skin sores, blood clots and other problems. As we know, Witch Hazel has an active component as tannins which can temporarily reduce the inflammation and pain associated with this condition (8).
Tannins can help in the constriction of blood vessels and improve the blow flow.
Witch Hazel can be an excellent remedy for treating hemorrhoids. As it helps lowers redness, itching, and inflammation. Mostly it is recommended to use Hazel water liquid in a diluted form with water. You can use it four to six times a day on your skin (9).
Where can you get Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel is available in two forms in near health store in the market as Witch Hazel extract and Witch Hazel tea. All you need to get the concentrated form and further you can dilute it in a carrier oil or water & alcohol based on the type of application
For external application, you have to mix it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil, and apply it on the skin. However, you have to mix it with water for internal consumption. If you have dry skin, avoid alcohol as it can lead to scabbing.
Possible side-effects of Witch Hazel
Although Witch Hazel is a magical herb, it is allergic to few people. Even if you have sensitive skin, then you might get an allergic reaction.
So, it is vital to perform a small patch test on your skin (preferably on arm or leg) and wait for at least 24 hours to check the reactions. If nothing happens, then it is safe for external use.
If you are going to consume it internally, then you should start with a low dosage and increase it gradually. However, it does not cause anything significant except occasional stomach upset and nausea.
Final thoughts on benefits of Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a natural product which can help you in maintaining healthy skin. It acts as an astringent, toner, face clearing agent and can be an excellent home remedy for several skin problems such as itching, inflammation, sores, infections, etc.
Witch hazel is indeed a real universal natural product for skin, which is also FDA approved. But you should use it carefully.