10 Magical Uses for Witch Hazel

This weekend you might have had a few witches ringing your doorbell for tricks and treats. However, one which you’d benefit from having inside your house full time is witch hazel. The natural, topical astringent is made from the Hamamelis virginiana shrub (particularly the bark and leaves).

From soothing burns to preventing unsightly blemishes and more—here are ten of the many ways that witch hazel will cast a spell on your household…

1. Banish Dark Circles

Hocus pocus, who knew the witchy astringent could be applied around the eyes (to the upper lids and under eyes) to banish dark circles, reduce swelling and give you a fresh, glowing, youthful visage? I began using witch hazel as a topical skin toner 4 years ago and my dark circles, eye puffiness, skin discoloration from sun damage, and dry areas around my nose and mouth have vanished. I’ll never go back to expensive store-bought toners. Just be careful not to get any in your eyes—it burns!

2. Take the Sting Out of Insect Bites

From bee stings to mosquito bites—apply a small bit of witch hazel to the affected area using a cotton swab and it will take the burn, itch, and sting away.  I always pack a small vial in my camping gear in case I need it during a hike. Luckily, witch hazel will also temporarily relieve the itch and burn of poison ivy and poison oak.

3. Soothe a Sore Throat

Witch hazel is touted by many Asian doctors for its natural astringent properties.  In fact, many recommend preparing witch hazel as an herbal tincture or tea to ease the discomfort of a sore throat.  Studies conducted in Asia credit the rich tannin (a powerful antioxidant) content of witch hazel with numbing properties that can reduce pain, swelling, and infection associated with Streptococcal infections, sinusitis, laryngitis, and tonsillitis.

4. Ease Sun and Wind Burn

If you want to quicken the healing time and reduce the pain of a nasty sunburn or windburn, mix a few drops of witch hazel plant extract with cooling Aloe Vera gel. Apply this topical remedy proactively to cool the burn, and reduce the swelling, itch, blistering, and peeling skin.

5. Cleansing Wounds

Most skin-bought toners have nothing on Mother Nature’s beauty regime, which most definitely calls for witch hazel to naturally tighten skin and cease the bleeding of minor scrapes, cuts, blisters, abrasions, and burns. Look for a store-bought brand that contains isopropyl alcohol, a naturally-occurring disinfectant that will help prevent infection.

6. Reduce Varicose Veins

If you suffer from the pain and embarrassment of varicose veins, witch hazel can reduce swelling and soothe the pain. Simply apply cotton compresses soaked in witch hazel to the inflamed veins while supporting the legs over the chest to promote blood circulation and pressure away from the veins.

7. Pamper Baby’s Bottom

Witch hazel is so gentle as a topical treatment that you can even use it to pamper and soften the bottoms of babies. The natural anti-inflammatory properties within make the topical remedy an effective treatment for healing chaffing and diaper rash.

8. Nature’s Astringent

Witch hazel has long been used as a powerful, natural astringent and face toner. I apply witch hazel after cleansing my face morning and night. Using a cotton pad, I wipe it over my face and neck to remove dirt, excess makeup, and oils, and to shrink down pores and banish blemishes and blackheads.

9. Heal Swollen Painful Gums

Gargling with witch hazel will also heal cracked and inflamed gums. Many dentists will recommend gargling with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of witch hazel diluted in water following dental surgery (i.e., wisdom tooth removal) to promote the speed of healing. You can even apply a bit of diluted witch hazel to a baby’s teething mouth to soothe irritation. Be sure to look for a brand without isopropyl alcohol if you are using it internally.

10.  Diminish Blemishes

Witch hazel is a beautician’s ally when it comes to removing excess oil, healing blemishes, and stubborn acne. At the first sight of a zit, I apply a bit of witch hazel with a cotton pad. The next morning, the blemish is typically banished or reduced dramatically.