Witch hazel is a topical astringent derived from the bark and leaves of Hamamelis virginiana, the common or North American witch-hazel shrub. Native Americans have long recognized the medicinal properties of witch hazel and used a decoction of the boiled plant parts to treat skin irritations and tumors. Nowadays this popular herbal remedy is recognized world-wide as a natural cleanser and toner, but witch hazel has many more uses than simply to clarify skin and shrink pores.
In this article, we explore fourteen amazing witch hazel uses for your health, beauty and in your home.
1. Natural Astringent
Probably the most famous way witch hazel is used is as a natural astringent. High concentrations of tannins in witch hazel make it an excellent astringent which means it has the ability to remove excess oil from skin and shrink down pores. Health-wise, those who are exposed to lots of environmental pollutants may apply witch hazel to the face in order to reduce the amount of contaminants that enter pores and, consequently, the amount and severity of blemishes. Also, because astringents remove excess oil, regular use of witch hazel may further prevent blemishes, especially black heads which result from dried sebum build-up in pores.
2. Fade Bruises and Blemishes
Witch hazel may also be used to treat blemishes already present on the face or other areas of the body. Apply witch hazel with a cotton ball or cosmetic pad to reduce irritation and appearance of acne or other inflammatory skin conditions. Witch hazel applied to bruises can also help to fade discoloration and speed up the healing process of any underlying damage.
3. Brighten Around Eyes
The ability of witch hazel to tighten skin and reduce inflammation makes this an ideal natural remedy for treating discoloration and puffiness under and around eyes and is one of the most popular uses for witch hazel. Just make sure not to get any of this natural astringent on the eyes themselves as it will result in significant pain and lingering discomfort from dryness.
4. Shrink Swollen Veins
Soak soft terry cloth in witch hazel and lay over skin affected by varicose veins to temporarily reduce swelling and pain. Also, remember to prop up the areas to be treated as high as possible. This will decrease blood pressure in swollen veins and maximize the effectiveness of your treatment.
5. Stop Bleeding
Witch hazel naturally tightens skin and promotes faster healing. Apply organic witch hazel to minor cuts and scrapes to stop bleeding. Store-bought witch hazel also often contains isoproply alcohol which disinfects, making it a popular choice for cleansing wounds before bandaging.
6. Post Hair-removal
For both men and women, witch hazel is a great follow-up to shaving any part of the body. Not only will it stop bleeding from nicks or cuts, anti-inflammatory witch hazel can also work to prevent razor burn. Furthermore, those who employ hot wax treatments for hair-removal may also apply witch hazel as an anti-inflammatory post-waxing or use it to stop bleeding from damaged hair follicles.
7. Hemorrhoid Relief
Witch hazel is great for easing the pain, itching, swelling, and bleeding of hemorrhoids. In fact, it’s a common ingredient used in many commercial hemorrhoid creams. Just mix witch hazel with a carrier like Aloe Vera gel and apply to affected areas for fast relief.
8. Ease a Sore Throat
Due to its astringent properties, an herbal tea of witch hazel (not the store-bought kind which almost always contains isopropyl alcohol) can help to ease the discomfort of a sore throat. Gargle with witch hazel tea to reduce swelling, dry up excess mucus, and ease pain caused by laryngitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, or other throat maladies.