What Is Witch Hazel?

Most of the time, when you mention the words ‘witch hazel’ to someone, they would probably be thinking that you dabble in witchcraft.

Not quite actually.

The uses and benefits of witch hazel have been growing in popularity over the years. It is a topical solution that you can put on your face and also on your skin conditions.

Let us take a deeper look at what witch hazel really is and its benefits.

What Exactly Is Witch Hazel?

As mysterious sounding as its name might be, witch hazel is actually a plant or a flowering plant to be exact. It comes from the family of Hamamelidaceae (quite a tongue twister).

This plant can be found in North America, Japan and China.

The witch hazel grows to the size of a small tree about 10-25ft tall. During the blooming season, the witch hazel bears both fruit and flower.

In order to spread its seeds far and wide, the fruit will forcefully pop open and spread its seeds out.

Because of this rather ferocious action, it is also called the ‘snapping hazel’.

The name of this plant wasn’t derived from it being used in dark magic. It came from the plant branches of the plant being used as a ‘witching rod’ to find water buried underground.

What Are The Benefits Of The Witch Hazel?

The benefits of the witch hazel plant have been discovered many thousands of years ago by the native Indians by using distilled witch hazel extract.

Witch Hazel water is widely sold in many pharmacies and is derived from distilling the stem, leaves and twigs of the plant.

It contains many powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Some of the benefits of witch hazel are still being used to date.

Treating Sunburns

If you’ve ever been badly sunburnt from being out in the sun for too long, you know how painful it can be.

Witch hazel is good when it comes to treating sunburns as it contains antioxidants called polyphenols.

You can apply witch hazel cream on your sunburns for some relief.

This antioxidant helps to reduce swelling and inflammation in sunburnt skin.

Reduce Internal Inflammation

Inflammation isn’t always on the surface of our body. Many of us also suffer from internal inflammation which we can’t see with the naked eye.

Chronic inflammation can lead to many ailments and diseases like cancer and heart problems.

With its strong anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel can prevent internal inflammation from spreading and reduce the number of free radicals in our bodies.

Reduce Skin Irritation

Inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne can benefit from applying witch hazel topically.

Studies have shown that by using a solution with witch hazel extract or witch hazel water, one can get some relief for itchy and inflamed skin.

Witch hazel works well with people with sensitive skin.

Postpartum Solution

Witch hazel water is good for women who have just given birth. It can be used to reduce swelling and pain in the vagina and perineum area.

This is due to the presence of tannins in witch hazel which helps to reduce swelling and fight off bacterial infections.

Treat Hemorrhoids

If you are someone that sits on the can for too long, you are at risk of getting hemorrhoids. Hemorroids can happen when someone strains a lot during bowel movements.

Someone who gets chronic diahrrea or constipation is also at risk of this condition.

This is caused when the veins in your anus and rectum swell up which can result in pain and bleeding.

Put some witch hazel on a cotton ball and apply it directly to the affected area.

A note of caution.

Witch hazel is an astringent and contains alcohol.

If your anus area is very sore from prolonged bowel movements, witch hazel water might cause a stinging sensation.

It is best to dab a little witch hazel on that part first to see how it feels.

Combat Against Acne

Ance doesn’t only occur in teenagers due to raging hormones. Adults too can get acne for no rhyme or reason.

If you are experiencing a bout of acne, you can apply witch hazel directly to your face.

Witch hazel contains astringents which is a mild form of alcohol. It helps to shrink your pores, tighten your skin and relieve mild skin irritation.

Relieves Scalp Sensitivity

Someone who is suffering from scalp sensitivity feels like their scalp is itchy and tender most of the time.

It can feel uncomfortable when it starts to result in sensory overload.

Using a shampoo that contains witch hazel extract can help with these symptoms.

Helping With Sore Throats

Although witch hazel is supposed to be only for topical usage, some people use witch hazel water when they have a sore throat.

Mix about 5-10ml of witch hazel water into a cup of water (330ml).

Boil this solution for a few minutes and gargle with it once it has cooled.

Repeat this a few times a day to help with your sore throat.

Do not start chugging down witch hazel water thinking that it will work better. Don’t forget that it contains alcohol which can give you an upset stomach.

Reduce Oily Skin

Many of us tend to have oily skin and using witch hazel can help control the amount of oil or sebum on our skin.

When your skin is feeling oily, rub some witch hazel on your face with a cotton ball or pad to remove the grease.

You can moisturize after to keep your skin hydrated.

Side Effects Of Witch Hazel

Most people won’t experience any side effects when using witch hazel. However, if you are someone who is very sensitive to alcohol, you will need to be more cautious as witch hazel contains about 10-14% alcohol.

This can have a stronger impact on your body if you are taking witch hazel orally.

Too much witch hazel can also cause skin dryness and worsen skin irritations. This is due to the presence of alcohol which can be as high as 15% in some brands.

It would be best to get one this is alcohol-free.

If you have cats or pets at home, please do keep them away from the plant.

The witch hazel bark, leaves and branches are toxic to pets and can cause vomiting and constipation.


Witch hazel extract isn’t a miracle cure for many skin conditions and inflammation but it is a good remedy to have for some relief.

Make sure to not use too much witch hazel as it can do more harm than good to your skin.

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