The use of witch hazel to treat various skin conditions goes long back in history. The native Americans used the bark and flowers of this plant to make medicinal concoctions. Our fascination with this herbal remedy is far from over and it is common to find this ingredient in various skin care products.
So if you have spotted witch hazel among other skin care products in the market, and have been wondering if it will work for you or not, then you are in the right place. This article will discuss the benefits and risks of using witch hazel, and if it is good for you or not.
Is Witch Hazel Good For Your Skin?
Even though the proponents of witch hazel credit it with a number of skin care benefits, you need to consider the following before including it in your skin care tool-set.
- Firstly, you need to know your skin type. If your skin is on the drier side or if you have sensitive skin, then it will be better to give this ingredient a miss.
- You should do a spot test to check for any allergic reactions before using witch hazel for the first time. Avoid it altogether if you have any adverse reactions.
- Experts suggest that it is best to avoid using witch hazel if you already have skin conditions such as rosacea.
- Also there are different species of witch hazel in nature, among which Hamamelis virginiana is the one that is good for skin care.
Benefits Of Using Witch Hazel On Your Skin
Witch hazel can play many roles in skin care as listed below.
1. Minimises The Appearance Of Skin Pores
With age or due to environmental damage, your skin may lose its elasticity. This results in sagging of skin and stretching of your skin pores. The astringent properties of witch hazel can help tighten up your skin which makes your skin pores appear smaller in size temporarily. Thus it is a preferred ingredient in non-alcoholic toners.
2. Soothes Irritation And Inflammation
Witch hazel has a number of beneficial phytochemicals (plant based ingredients) such as hamamelitannin, catechins and gallic acids. These chemicals render anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to this herbal extract.
Lotions or ointments with witch hazel can be used to calm irritation and inflammation of the skin such as in case of rashes, haemorrhoids, etc. Studies have shown that the phytochemicals in witch hazel fight the free radicals and thus protect your skin from cancerous growths.
3. Maintains Oil Balance And Wards Off Acne
Witch hazel can clear off the excess oil from your face. The oil secreted by your skin along with dirt and dead skin cells clogs your skin pores. This can lead to blackheads, whiteheads or pimples. Witch hazel not only clears up your facial skin but also soothes inflammation and itchiness. Thus it is a commonly used ingredient in many skin care products for acne.
4.Heals Minor Cuts And Burns
Witch hazel was used as a medicine in many ancient cultures. Research has testified the antibacterial properties of witch hazel extracts. Therefore witch hazel can be used to treat minor cuts and burns on skin.
Witch hazel also helps to heal razor burns as it not only soothes irritation but also prevents infection. Its cooling effects help to treat sun-burned skin or minor chemical burns. To use, soak a clean cloth or tissue in witch hazel solution and gently place it over the affected area, but avoid rubbing it in.
5. Treats Sensitive Scalp Conditions
Witch hazel is not only good for your facial skin, it can be good for your scalp too. Studies have shown that products containing this herbal ingredient can soothe sensitivity and reduce redness of the scalp.
You can also use witch hazel to treat dryness or certain kinds of dandruff. Applying a small quantity of witch hazel before washing your hair can soothe the skin on the scalp and reduce dryness. Do consult a doctor if you have conditions like seborrheic dermatitis.
Best Way To Use Witch Hazel On Face For Healthy Skin
The way in which you use witch hazel on your face will depend on the end goals you have in mind. Here we explain a few ways in which you can use witch hazel on your face:
- You can use witch hazel as an astringent or toner. Wash your face with a suitable face cleanser and pat dry completely. Take a few drops of witch hazel and dab it gently all over your face. Follow this with your normal skin care routine.
- You can also use witch hazel as a soothing lotion to reduce irritation and inflammation. Wash your hands properly before applying the lotion on your face. Take a small amount and apply on a clean, dry face.
- If you are using witch hazel to reduce acne, you can either use witch hazel extract directly or use an anti-acne product with this ingredient. In case you are using products, read the instructions carefully and consult your doctor if you have any doubts.
How Often Should You Use Witch Hazel On Your Face?
The frequency of witch hazel usage on your skin will depend both on the type of your skin as well as the purpose for which you are using it.
If you have oily to normal skin, you can use witch hazel daily. If your skin is on the drier side of the spectrum, you should use it very moderately, maybe once or twice a week. Avoid it altogether if you have extremely dry or sensitive skin.
Also, the form in which you are using witch hazel also determines how much or how often you should use it. For example, if you are using a witch hazel extract as an astringent, you may try applying it once or twice a week and check how your skin responds to it. But if you are using a lotion with witch hazel for soothing redness and irritation, you may need to use it daily until the condition subsides.
Do read the product labels carefully to know the instructions on usage. If you are still unsure, then discuss with a dermatologist for best outcomes.
Witch hazel has been used as a multipurpose, medicinal herbal extract since times immemorial. It is still popular as a skin care ingredient because of its multiple benefits for the skin. But witch hazel may not suit everyone’s skin. So do consider your skin type and consult a doctor before using witch hazel extract or products containing this ingredient.
1. Determination of hamamelitannin, catechins and gallic acid in witch hazel bark, twig and leaf by HPLC. (2003).
2. Highly Galloylated Tannin Fractions from Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) Bark: Electron Transfer Capacity, In Vitro Antioxidant Activity, and Effects on Skin-Related Cells. (2008).
3. Moisturisers for acne. (2014).
4. An assessment of the growth inhibition profiles of Hamamelis virginiana L. extracts against Streptococcus and Staphylococcus spp. (2021).
5. North American Virginian Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): Based Scalp Care and Protection for Sensitive Scalp, Red Scalp, and Scalp Burn-Out. (2014)
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