When it comes to enhancing our beauty, we literally have thousands of options in the market today that claim to do so. From natural skin care to herbal and organic products, we can go any way for our skin care.
Witch Hazel is one such medicinal plant that is being used for centuries by American Indians to obtain relief from various skin ailments such as sores, swelling and infection. The witch hazel is mainly known for its astringent properties which makes it the most effective treatment for acne. Not only this, some studies have shown that it may also be effective in treating skin cancer. Hence, if you want to give nourishment to your skin while removing different abnormalities, then you can’t go wrong with witch hazel. This article will shed some more light on the uses of this medicinal plant, where to buy witch hazel, what are its benefits and applications and more.
What is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel is derived from the bark and leaves of Hamamelis virginiana, a shrub which is found in North America and some parts of Asia. Also referred to as winterbloom sometimes, the leaves and bark of this plant is used to prepare an astringent that heals the skin and naturally reduces other skin problems such as acne, insect bites, blisters, poison ivy, skin inflammation and more.
The powerful antioxidant and astringent characteristics of witch hazel make it suitable for application on the skin. It kills the bacteria that live within skin’s pores, prevents signs of aging, speeds up the healing process and stops cellular damage that causes skin cancer.
Native Americans have been using its medicinal properties for several years. They boil the plant parts to treat skin infections and tumors. These days, you can find this popular herbal remedy all around the world. You can easily find witch hazel toner, witch hazel wipes and cleanser in nearby drug and departmental stores. You will find many over-the-counter medicinal and beauty products such as shaving cream, aftershave, nail treatments, anti-aging serums, hemorrhoid products, shampoo, bug-repellents and more that contain the extract of witch hazel.
How Do you Use Witch Hazel?
To use witch hazel extract for skin and hair, it is best to dilute it with carrier oils like jojoba oil or coconut oil and then apply it directly on the affected area. It can either be used as a lotion, serum, toner, face wash or you can also get witch hazel wipes. You can use witch hazel to treat skin and scalp problems like pain, itching, redness, swelling, inflammation and wounds, even if you are sensitive to other over-the-counter topical treatments.
The benefits of witch hazel are not restricted to the skin. Its antioxidant and antibacterial properties also help fight various other symptoms and illnesses. It can soothe sore throats, coughs, toothaches, hemorrhoids, allergies and even ear infections.
Following are the different ways in which you can use this miraculous medicinal remedy to enhance the beauty of your skin, hair and teeth.
- Reduce Acne - Witch hazel works as a miracle for acne-prone skin. It reduces acne outbreaks and heals other acne abnormalities such as redness, inflammation, bleeding and oiliness. It inhibits the growth of bacteria on the affected area of the body and helps in faster healing of infections and scabs.If you suffer from acne and have sensitive skin, witch hazel will be greatly useful for you. It helps shrink pores to some extent and also stop the production of excessive oil, eruption of blackheads or whiteheads and sweating, which leads to acne breakouts. If you feel like picking your pimple, simply apply witch hazel over it using a cotton swab. Even if the pimple has not formed completely, applying witch hazel will prevent it from coming out. This medicinal remedy is even more effective when combined with other antibacterials like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, or tea tree oil.Witch hazel is also known to give you a blemish-free skin. It prevents the appearance of blemishes and prevents other forms of skin irritations. Apply witch hazel using a cotton swab several times a day to soothe your skin.
- Fights Signs of Aging - Who doesn’t want to look youthful always! Well, if you also want to cut down a few years from your skin, then witch hazel can do wonders for you. It tightens your skin naturally and fights the signs of aging such as redness, scars, dryness, discoloration.It is also beneficial to reduce puffiness around the eyes. The constituents like polyphenols and tannin antioxidants in witch hazel are known to provide protection against melanoma, skin cancer and other problems brought about by the harmful UV rays of the sun. These chemicals stop the production of melanoma cells and defend healthy skin cells, when you enter into older age.Witch hazel also maintains the youthfulness of the skin by protecting collagen and skin elasticity. In fact, it is used in many commercial beauty and anti-aging products. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties protect the elasticity of the skin and lessen the effects of the environment. It also prevents varicose veins from showing up.
- Treat Insect Bites - Witch hazel is also used to make commercial bug repellents and more. It can treat insect bites and reduce its effects on the skin such as stings, swelling, irritations and allergies. In fact, many studies have found that using witch hazel for treating skin irritations is just as effective as using synthetic chemical creams, including Dexpanthenol. It can also heal minor cuts and scabs.
Cleanse Hair - Witch hazel helps reduce the oil buildup in your hair. This in turn makes you hair healthier, shinier and full of volume. If you often experience hair odor, it can be helpful for that too. Apart from that, it helps in treating irritated scalp, speeds up healing from insect bites and also reduces acne at the base of the neck.
According to a study, a shampoo which contained witch hazel extract helped soothe irritated scalps, itching, redness and inflammation of the patients. Simply add several drops of witch hazel to your shampoo to get its benefits. You can also create your own hair wash using witch hazel, argan oil, coconut oil, and other cleansing essential oils like orange oil or lemon.
- Prevent Ingrown Hair and Rashes - After shaving, rub witch hazel over the skin to slow down bleeding from nicks or cuts. It prevents infections and bacteria growth within hair follicles, prevents ingrown hair from forming and soothes razor burns. Women can apply witch hazel toner after waxing in combination with other healing essential oils to reduce pain, bleeding and swelling on the skin.
Stop Ear Infections from Developing - The anti-bacterial properties of witch hazel make it a perfect remedy for treating ear infections, which is usually caused by bacteria. It naturally treats irritations within the ear canal.
If you want to make your own remedy to treat ear infection, put a few drops of witch hazel extract into each ear using an eye dropper several times a day. It prevents the overgrowth of bacteria in the ear and removes signs of infection such as pus, dries up oil, breaks up wax and removes odor.
- Soothe a Sore Throat - Drinking witch hazel tea soothes an infected, irritated or sore throat. It has astringent properties which make it beneficial for fighting problems that affect the throat. On the other hand, the soothing properties of witch hazel lower pain and discomfort caused by throat problems such as strep throat, coughs, sore throat, tonsillitis, sinus infection and others.
- Stop Pet Odor and Bug Bites - Witch hazel inhibits excessive bacteria from forming on the pet’s skin surface, especially on the bites or wounds that can lead to foul odor. Witch hazel repels mosquitoes and other insects and prevents your pets from getting bug bites. It also slows down itching or bleeding, thus helping cleanse their skin.
- Treat Hemorrhoids - Witch hazel is an effective home remedy for treating hemorrhoids. Apply witch hazel water to your skin to soothe inflammation and reduce pain caused by uncomfortable hemorrhoids. It also relieves irritation, itching, burning and bleeding from hemorrhoids. Using witch hazel at least 5-6 times a day on irritated skin or after every bowel movement will provide great benefits.
- Protect Your Mouth, Lips and Gums - Witch hazel can be used to treat blisters on your lips, mouth and gums. It speeds up the healing process and helps you get rid of pain and swelling. You can also apply witch hazel extract to treat mouth blisters, bleeding, bad breath odors, infections of the gums and sores. It is even more useful when used in conjunction with other healing essential oils like peppermint oil or coconut oil.To take advantage of witch hazel, add some drops of the extract to your toothpaste. You can add a teaspoon of witch hazel tea to several drops of clove, wintergreen, and myrrh oils to make your own mouthwash, which is effective in relieving teething in infants or toothaches. It also prevents the risk of infection after you have undergone oral surgery, or experience inflammation from mouth sores and bleeding.
- Treat Dandruff - If you often suffer from dandruff, simply massage witch hazel into your scalp. Then rinse it with shampoo and use a conditioner after the shower. On the other hand, you can also use witch hazel water to wash your hair and scalp between shampoo days.
- Prevent and reduce the appearance of stretch marks - Stretch marks can leave any pregnant women feeling embarrassed about her body. Those who gain weight very quickly also get these stretch marks that look unsightly. Many teenagers sometimes also get these marks during changes in puberty and periods of accelerated growth. Whatever be the reason, it is very difficult to get rid of stretch marks. Witch hazel, however, is an effective remedy for this. It tightens loose skin around the scars and reduces their appearance.
- Shrink varicose veins - Varicose veins are ugly-looking cosmetic blemish that have an appearance similar to stretch marks. Just like stretch marks, they often form on thighs and are difficult to deal with. Witch hazel is considered to be an ideal remedy for treating spider veins. Just apply witch hazel on the area several times a day using a cotton swab. It will reduce the appearance of the veins and the discomfort associated with them.
- Reduce bags under the eyes - The unsightly bags that show up under your eyes are definitely annoying. Since witch hazel has properties that are known to tighten the skin, you can get rid of bags under the eyes effectively.
- Manage frizzy hair - Witch hazel is one thing you must have in your bathroom cabinet if you want to have a healthy scalp and hair. It not only reduces dandruff and makes your scalp healthy, but it also makes your hair beautiful by taming your frizzy hair. Simply add a few drops of witch hazel to your shampoo before washing. You will definitely see a great improvement in the quality of your hair.
Where To Buy Witch Hazel
When buying witch hazel, make sure it is completely alcohol-free. You can find it in drug stores, departments stores or even online.
Side Effects of Witch Hazel
There are no potential side-effects of witch hazel. In fact, most adults and even children don’t experience any negative reactions of witch hazel extract when applied on skin or hair. However, allergic reactions and irritations may still occur, especially if your skin is sensitive and you spend a lot of time in the sun.
Hence, before using witch hazel, make sure to do a patch test. Apply a small amount of it on you and wait for a few minutes. If you feel pain, itchiness or irritation, then you are allergic to it. Taking witch hazel internally is also safe for most people. However, it can still upset your stomach in rare cases. It is advised not to go too heavy with witch hazel. Keep your dosage low as high doses have been associated with liver problems.