11 Uses for Witch Hazel

11 Natural Uses for Witch Hazel

My first introduction to Witch Hazel was not a pleasant one… I was given a container of witch hazel pads after the many hours of pushing that led to the eventual birth of my firstborn. As I sat there on my ice pack and felt pain in places I didn’t know could feel pain, a rather stern nurse gave me a primer or what hemorrhoids were, how they could occur after birth and what to do about them…

Thankfully, I never needed those pads, but the whole experience gave me a bad opinion of witch hazel.

Fast forward a few years, and I was making the switch to cloth diapers and wanted to find a natural alternative to regular baby wipes, and in my research on baby-safe ingredients I once again stumbled upon witch hazel.

The Benefits of Witch Hazel

When I started researching it, I was shocked to learn that witch hazel isn’t just a remedy given to new moms, but a plant-based substance that has been used for centuries for its skin soothing benefits.

Witch Hazel extract is a an astringent or hydrosol that is made from the witch hazel shrub. It was used by Native American Indians for various skin problems and also has a long history of use in the beauty industry.

It is an external remedy that is well-known for its benefits to the skin. Over the years, I’ve found a variety of ways to use it for my family and it is now a staple in my home and one of my favorite skin-care ingredients. Here are my favorite uses for it:

1. Natural Skin Care

Witch Hazel is one of my favorite skin care ingredients for a reason. It is a multi-purpose remedy that can help with a wide variety of skin conditions. It is often recommended for spot treating acne, soothing dry skin or itching, and removing makeup.

I like to use it in this homemade Vitamin C facial toner, which has been great for my naturally oily skin.

2. Post Childbirth

A time when witch hazel is often recommended is post childbirth, because it makes a great postpartum healing spray for the perineum. I make a tincture of witch hazel extract and after birth herbs that I keep in a spray bottle for post-birth soothing.

It is also possible to make a homemade version of the witch hazel pads often handed out in hospitals by pouring natural witch hazel over organic cotton pads (and even adding herbs or aloe for additional soothing).

3. For Stretch Marks

I haven’t tried it personally, but a friend was able to make her stretch marks almost completely disappear by spraying witch hazel extract on them once a day for a few months.

4. Diaper Rash and Baby Wipes

Witch hazel is an ingredient in my homemade baby wipes (that can be made using cloth wipes or with a disposable option), because it is excellent for the skin. Combined with aloe, it has been very soothing on my little ones.

Witch hazel is also great for diaper rash, and I keep a small bottle and some organic cotton balls in my diaper kit as a quick remedy.

5. Varicose Veins

Another remedy I haven’t personally tried, but a midwife friend recommends, is a compresses for varicose vein relief. Women soak cloths in witch hazel to make compresses and apply to the legs to reduce the discomfort of varicose veins.

6. For the Hair (dandruff)

The same properties that make witch hazel beneficial to the skin also make it good for the hair and scalp. I’ve used it pre-shampoo to help add shine to my hair and de-frizz, but this same process can help with dandruff. I keep a spray bottle of witch hazel in the bathroom to spray on the scalp before showering and then wash out in the shower.

7. Single Ingredient Deodorant

I love my really-effective homemade deodorant, but baking soda can be irritating to some people. A magnesium based spray deodorant can be a great alternative, but for especially sensitive skin, plain witch hazel (or add a few drops of lavender essential oil) can be a great alternative. I also recommend trying an armpit detox to reduce odor and make armpits less sensitive.

8. Itch Remedy

I keep witch hazel in the first aid kit for treating all kind of itching. It can be really helpful in reducing the itch from chickenpox, eczema, poison ivy, and bug bites.

In fact, I keep a small glass bottle of witch hazel and lavender in the first aid kit, and my children will go find this and use on bug bites or skin itching if they need it. I also make an anti-itch cream using it that is great for spot treating itchy areas.

9. Bruise Spray

Just as it can sooth varicose veins, witch hazel can help reduce the appearance and pain of a bruise. I learned this first-hand when I managed to turn around into the side of a kitchen cabinet and give myself a big forehead bruise the week before a family wedding. A witch hazel compress once a day helped vanish the bruise within a few days.

10. Sunburn or Razor Burn

Apple cider vinegar is my go-to for sunburn, but witch hazel also works well… A spray bottle of it in the fridge can help cool and soothe a sunburn or razor burn.

11. In Bug Spray

Witch hazel is the base for my homemade bug spray. It is an excellent base for the dried herbs or essential oils in DIY bug spray, and is excellent for the skin on its own. Since it is also helpful for itchy skin and even poison ivy, it is a good duel-purpose remedy for camping or beach trips.

Finding Good Quality Witch Hazel

Many brands of store-bought witch hazel contain more alcohol than witch hazel and can be drying or sting sensitive skin. I always buy this brand of witch hazel, which is double-distilled and more potent than store bought brands.

Ever used witch hazel? What do you use it for?

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Reader Comments

  1. Even though I’m in my 50’s, I still get acne from time to time. My teenage son’s acne products are too harsh for my otherwise “mature” skin. Witch hazel clears me right up, and my son has gone the natural route also, with success!

  2. I’m interested in more people’s comments! Sounds like a good thing to have available at all times!!!
    Thanks so much for the information!

    • I’m in my 40’s and have used it for about six months. I used to spend a lot of money on products and saw no results. Use witch hazel and Shea butter on my face and it’s made a difference in my skin which is softer and less irritated. You won’t be disappointed.

  3. Thank you for this list – terrific uses for witch hazel! My husband uses it as an aftershave, it stops the stinging and burning on his face and neck.

  4. I was starting to get a cold sore so my friend whipped out her bottle of witch hazel and had me firmly press down on the cotton ball she soaked with witch hazel onto the tingling skin and voila – no cold sore.

    The same friend recommended it for a bee sting and helped with the stinging pain and duration. I ran out and bought a bottle.

    • What all did you do for the cold sore, cause I get those badly

      • The second you feel that first tingle, put the Witch Hazel on the cotton ball (or cloth) and press firmly on the area where you felt the tingle. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat. Repeat the procedure as often as you can throughout the day/s. It also helps to eat well, get enough citrus, sleep well and avoid too much sun.

  5. Thank you for your posts. I really look forward to your weekly re-cap, and I always learn something new!

  6. Witch Hazel is fantastic!! I always buy the alcohol free type so that I can use it for myself and my dogs. Alcohol of any kind either topically or internally is not good for animals.

  7. I actually use witch hazel in tandem with a lotion I found that is extremely moisturizing, ozone layer lotion. I love the astringent qualities but need the Shea butter lotion to work with it.

  8. I use it as aftershave and also as a toner for my face. I will definitely try it for dandruff. Thanks for the information.

  9. Aftershave, toner to sooth skin or i will use it for cleaning. I mix essential oils with it. I just use the storebought brands. It doesn’t seem to irritate me and mountian rose herbs can be a bit on the pricey side.

  10. I use it as a toner, everyday, day and night. After washing my face, I simply soak a cotton pad with witch hazel and use it on my face. I get way less black head(almost none) on my nose since I started to use it.

  11. Which store can I find Witch Hazel ?

  12. I’ve tried the ACV as a toner for a fair 6 months, it seemed to make me break out in pimples. I then found witch hazel and we get along great, best toner I’ve ever used. I use it at night and again in the morning for my fair & sensitive skin and it leaves it feeling & looking great. When I first bought it I had purchased Non-Alcoholic witch hazel and I’ve stuck with it because it works. What is the big difference between usage for alcoholic and non-alcoholic witch hazel? Also, when blending with essential oils does it matter which type I use?

    • By “which type?” are you questioning what essential oils to use, or what brand? Pairing Witch Hazel with melaleuca or lavender may help your skin. Lavender is anti-inflammatory and I’ve found melaleuca to be a fantastic essential oil when treating break-outs and acne. I do use a specific brand but I won’t comment on that because I don’t want to turn this into a debate. 🙂

      • I was inquiring on which type of witch hazel, alcoholic or non when mixing with essential oils. When I use Witch Hazel for my face (neat) I use the Non-alcoholic but when I use it for natural bug spray and other recipes I blend with essential oils i have been using the alcoholic witch hazel. Just as when I make my own poo-pourri I use rubbing alcohol (as the recipe calls for), as I have learned the alcohol plays an important role in many recipes when blended with essential oils. I would love to switch most of my recipes to non-alcoholic witch hazel, (bug spray etc) but am unsure if it’s an effective replacement?

  13. I’ve been using witch hazel to treat flat warts on my forehead. Not much success so far and it has been about a month…. has any one had experience with getting rid of those? I would like them gone by my wedding next summer!

    • Random but if you put duct tape over them they will go away I had warts on my chin and my dermatologist told me to do this and it worked. Cut the tape into small squares to cover each individually. There’s something about starving the warts of air that causes them to vanish. Hope this helps!

  14. I recently started using Witch Hazel (Thayer’s Rose Petal), because I’d read that it helps with acne. Actually I first started using right before my monthly “hormonal breakout,” and I was amazed with how well it combated the acne. I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without the use of this great product. 🙂

    • Was it non alcoholic?

  15. I turned to Witch Hazel when I started getting rosacea and acne (again at 45 years old). I have very fair skin that is sensitive. I no longer “wash” my face with a cleanser…I simply soak a cotton ball with witch hazel and do that several times until the cotton ball is clean. I also take grapefruit essential oil and put that on a cotton ball and run that over my face, rub it in and then a moisturizer (Cerave). My skin has never looked so good. It is bright and clear of acne and the rosacea has calmed down that I barely need to use foundation anymore.

  16. what about thayers alcohal free witcghazel extract with rose petals and aloevera?

  17. That is an excellent choice Jenae! I always buy alcohol free also, and rose petals and aloe have great benefits for skin.

  18. I have just used Witch hazel and rosewater to treat a breakout of atopic eczema (my skin did not like the change in water to a high mineral level away from home). It soothed the itchiness and swelling on my eyelids and lips, and I did not use any creams/lotions for about 3 days until it was more settled.

  19. I combine witch hazel and rose water ( 50/50, +/-) to use as a daily skin cleanser/toner.

  20. Would witch hazel work on external hemorrhoids?

  21. Your recommended Thayer link advertises that witch hazel as non-distilled (which they say provides greater benefits). However, you claim it’s double-distilled and more potent. I’m confused. Can you help clear up the deal with the distillation info and benefits? I love your site by the way. Yours and Kitchen Stewardship are our family’s go-to resources. : ) Love it when you do a podcast together!

  22. I use witch hazel on mosquito bites. They go away faster and don’t itch.

  23. Use Witch Hazel (solution with 15% alcohol) every day after shaving my face… Wash my entire face with it.. stops minor bleed and acts a nice and painless astringent.

    AT $3 a pint it beat after shave!

  24. I just stumbled across witch hazel. I got a very bad sunburn on my legs… so bad that they were so swollen that I could not walk on them. I used a witch hazel compress for about 20 minutes and the swelling and pain had gone down enough that I could walk. My legs are steadily improving with continued witch hazel compresses.