Witch Hazel is one of those simple, natural products that most of us probably already have on hand, but that we don’t use very often. (I’ve been guilty of that!) You can easily find Witch Hazel products in your local drug store because common Witch Hazel is such a powerful first aid tool. So, I think it’s time to bring that bottle out of the cupboard and start putting it to good use! Today I’ll be sharing a few practical uses for Witch Hazel, several of which are perfect for handling spring and summer maladies.
But before we launch into the uses, let’s get the lowdown on just what the heck Witch Hazel actually is. 😉
What Is Witch Hazel?
American Witch Hazel is produced from the leaves and bark of the Witch Hazel plant found in North America (Hamamelis Virginiana) and was widely used as an herbal medicine s by Native Americans. When distilled and combined with alcohol, the aromatic oil extracted from the bark of the Witch Hazel shrub makes a soothing and mildly astringent lotion.
These natural qualities make Witch Hazel a perfect remedy for all kinds of skin conditions, but it has several more uses than that!
Is Witch Hazel a Disinfectant?
Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, you can use Witch Hazel as a mild disinfectant for cuts or scrapes thanks to the natural grain alcohol that appears in most brands you can buy over the counter! The presence of this natural alcohol is one reason Witch Hazel is a more gentle astringent than rubbing alcohol.
Some tests have even shown Witch Hazel to have antiviral properties. However, Witch Hazel should not be considered an effective disinfectant if you’re trying to protect yourself from influenza or Coronavirus, since the CDC recommends using a disinfectant with at least 60% alcohol. Witch Hazel typically contains only 13-14% alcohol, which means it won’t get the job done for this task!
However, there are plenty of other ways to use Witch Hazel! Read on to learn 26 of my favorites.
26 Uses For Witch Hazel
1. Facial Cleansing
Witch Hazel has the unique ability to clean skin pores and absorb excess oil without leaving skin too dry. Witch Hazel can often replace a daily cleanser for those with normal skin types. For oily or acne-prone skin, a quick swipe of Witch Hazel throughout the day is a great way to remove excess oil without the hassle of a full face wash.
For quick and easy cleansing with Witch Hazel, check out my homemade cleansing pads that are perfect for oily skin.
2. Homemade “Tucks” Cooling Pads
A doctor once recommended Tucks cooling pads to me as a way to cope with hemorrhoids, and unfortunate side effects of child birth, constipation, and colonoscopy prep. :-/ So I made up some of my own “Tucks” to use during this uncomfortable time, and I am happy to report they were a little slice of heaven on earth.
To make them, add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil to about an ounce of Witch Hazel. Mix well, then dip round cotton pads in the solution. Place them in the freezer for an hour or so, then use as needed. Ahhhh… the relief is sublime!
3. Acne Treatment
The tannin content in Witch Hazel has strong astringent and antioxidant properties. These astringent properties are cleansing to the skin while minimizing the size of skin pores. Unlike many harsh commercial acne formulations, it is gentle and non-drying when used to tone and cleanse acne-infected or acne-prone skin. Plain Witch Hazel may be applied to the skin straight from the bottle using cotton balls.
4. Tighten Bags Under The Eyes
Some people say that the application of hemorrhoid cream to those bags under your eyes can take them away. It’s not an old wives’ tale. A primary ingredient in products like Preparation H is Witch Hazel, which helps tighten up the skin and reduce the bagginess.
5. Soothe Razor Burn
The anti-inflammatory properties of Witch Hazel stop itchy bumps from forming up around your irritated hair follicles. Splash on after shaving legs or face.
6. Soothe Chicken Pox Blisters
Witch Hazel can also help the itching caused by chickenpox. To make a Witch Hazel mixture, mix one cup of Witch Hazel with one cup of water and apply to the skin and it let dry. You can apply as often as needed.
7. Clear Up Body Acne
Combine Witch Hazel with rose water to make an effective yet gentle acne-banishing toner for body acne. It’s an easy way to keep acne-prone areas like your chest and back clear.
Read More: DIY Body Acne Banishing Spray
8. Soothe Diaper Rash
If your baby’s rash isn’t healing quick enough, apply Witch Hazel or Witch Hazel distillate with a cotton ball. You should see an immediate improvement to your baby’s bottom.
9. Heal Cuts and Scrapes
Many chemists and pharmacists refer to Witch Hazel as nature’s answer to Neosporin. Witch Hazel can be a substitute for hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol when it comes to cleaning out a cut. Pour a liberal amount of Witch Hazel over the cut or sore and allow it to dry. Add a bandage, and you’re set. You can also use Witch Hazel on bruises or skin that is blistered or cracked.
Harness the natural healing power of Witch Hazel in a convenient “Neosporin”-style first aid ointment!
Read More: How To Make A Homemade First Aid Ointment
10. Hide Scars & Stretch Marks
Witch Hazel is often used by pregnant women to prevent stretch marks, but it can be used to help tighten loose or excessive skin around scars or stretch marks, helping to make them less apparent.
11. Treat Inflamed Skin
Healing damaged skin is one of Witch Hazel’s specialties. And since a sunburn is also a type of skin inflammation, Witch Hazel is ideal for treating this too (despite swelling not being obvious.) Treating sunburn with Witch Hazel will lessen healing time and help minimize peeling and flaking. Apply with a washcloth soaked in Witch Hazel, allowing it to soak into your skin for several minutes before removing.
You can also use Witch Hazel to calm red, inflamed, or sweaty skin after a strenuous workout. Check out this 2-step cleansing method that’s perfect for calming skin after a session at the gym!
12. Reduce Varicose Vein Swelling
To reduce pain and swelling from varicose veins, prop your legs up, soak wash cloths in Witch Hazel and lay them on your legs to reduce pain and swelling from varicose veins. The Witch Hazel will help to tighten the veins, relieving the discomfort temporarily.
13. Treat Dry Skin
This is so timely for me right now. Lately legs have just been itching like crazy because they are so dry! Apply Witch Hazel immediately after showering to lock in the moisture that has just soaked into your skin.
And for those times when an itchy patch of skin is driving you crazy, our Production Manager Brittany has an easy Witch Hazel remedy! She saturates a cotton ball with Witch Hazel and uses it to swab the itchy area. After the Witch Hazel has dried, she places one drop of lavender essential oil onto the skin and follows it with a squirt of her favorite lotion. The combination of Witch Hazel, lavender oil, and lotion knocks out all kinds of itchy and scratchy skin woes.
14. Soothe Tired, Puffy Eyes
If your eyes are puffy from crying or lack of sleep (or both), then soak two small cotton pads with Witch Hazel and put them over your eyes. After 10 minutes, your eyes should be refreshed, and any redness should be gone. Witch Hazel is famous for shrinking blood vessels (which is why it’s one of the main ingredients in Preparation H cream).
15. Soothe Bug Bites
With its anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties, Witch Hazel is ideal for treating bug bites. Apply the Witch Hazel with a cotton ball directly to the bite. It also works to soothe bites from fleas, flies, and insect stings.
You can avoid bug bites in the first place with a homemade mosquito-repellent bracelet! They’re a practical summertime craft, and they’re fun to make, too!
Read More: Make Your Own Mosquito Repellant Bracelet
16. Natural Deodorant
Witch Hazel is often used in deodorants due to its natural skin-care properties. Here is a recipe for a natural deodorant I posted way back when.
17. Reduce Itching From Poison Ivy & Poison Oak
Just like acne and blemishes, the Witch Hazel reduces itching and relieves swelling. Something definitely worth packing on your next camping trip. This is particularly helpful for those who experience hydrocortisone cream reactions.
Read More: 10 Easy Home Remedies for Summer Wounds
18. Reduce Soreness and Inflammation In Sore Gums, Sore Throat, Laryngitis
The antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent activity of Witch Hazel may help shrink and heal inflamed or sore throats, gums, and larynx. Witch Hazel tea infused with myrrh and cloves can make your sore throat feel better after gargling.
19. Dogs Ear Cleaner
Give your dog’s ears a cleaning by moistening a cotton ball or cloth with Witch Hazel, and gently wiping the inside of the ears. Don’t use a cotton swab.
20. Extract Ticks
Insect bites are one downside to nice weather, and tick-infested areas are of special concern. Ticks may relish the taste of your family pet, but they hate the taste of Witch Hazel. Before attempting to remove a tick, douse the tick with a few drops of Witch Hazel to make it loosen its jaws. Grasp the tick firmly and pull; disinfect the bite area by dabbing the skin with Witch Hazel once the tick has been successfully removed.
21. Versatile Household Cleaner
Witch Hazel can also be combined with lemon juice and baking soda to create an eco-friendly cleaning agent for your bathrooms. Or use it undiluted on chrome, glass, and mirrors. You don’t need to rinse as the alcohol-based cleaner readily evaporates, leaving the chrome sparkling clean and germ-free.
Vinyl, linoleum, and tile floors can be kept clean by mopping once a week with a solution made from 1/2 cup of Witch Hazel and 1 gallon of warm water. The solvents in the Witch Hazel strip away old wax while the water dissolves dirt and debris. To clean heavily soiled floors, stir 1 tablespoon of borax into the solution prior to mopping. Borax is an inexpensive cleaning product without all the toxins that most commercial cleaners have. No more streaks and harsh chemicals being wiped all over your floor!
22. Treat Cold Sores
Apply Witch Hazel on a cold sore when you feel it coming on to prevent it from becoming a blister. If you already have one, use it right away and often, and the blister will heal quicker.
23. Jewelry Cleaner
Dab some Witch Hazel on a cotton ball to gently clean your jewelry.
24. Deep Cleanse Your Scalp
Use a Witch Hazel hair-cleansing routine if you suffer from psoriasis, eczema, or dandruff. Massage the scalp with Witch Hazel, followed by shampoo and conditioner. It is also an efficient “between-shampoos” method of washing your hair and scalp.
25. Boost Your Mood
Combine Witch Hazel and a few drops of essential oil to create a spray that smells great and can put you in a better mood! One of my favorite ways to use it is on my furniture. You could also use the spray as an air freshener of sorts, and spray it around whatever room you’ll be spending time in. You’ll be feeling great in no time!
To make, combine 1/2 cup Witch Hazel, 1 cup of water, and about 15 drops of essential oil, such as lavender, lemon, eucalyptus or cedar, combined in a spray bottle as an air freshener.
26. Heal Bruises Faster
I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this before! I am the worst bruiser! My husband likes to say I “bruise like a summer peach.” 🙂 Now I know how to get rid of those bruises FASTER…apply Witch Hazel three times daily.