Is Witch Hazel Good for Your Skin?

woman with clear skin to show what are the benefits of witch hazel
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A bottle of witch hazel is useful for a wide variety of reasons, from domestic cleaning to natural beauty care. With these seemingly powerful properties, you might be asking: what are the benefits of witch hazel? Is witch hazel good for your skin? And for those who may have heard the comparison, is witch hazel the same as alcohol?

What is witch hazel?

Witch hazel is a medicinal ingredient extracted from the leaves and barks of a plant known as Hamamelis virginiana. The witch hazel plant is found mainly on the continents of Asia and North America. 

It has always been used to cure a lot of skin conditions of the olden days. Even now, a lot of skincare products are formulated with this ingredient. 

There is even a widespread perception that this magical ingredient (which also reminds us of CBD skincare) is the cure for all skin conditions. In this article, we will be looking at the good and bad sides of the witch hazel and then conclude if it is worth all the hype.

What are the benefits of witch hazel?

Is witch hazel good for your skin? Let’s take a brief look at some of the benefits of witch hazel. They include:

1. Witch hazel helps to reduce large skin pores.

It contains some constricting proteins, which force the skin cells to tighten; hence, it temporarily lowers your pore size. If you stop using it, there are tendencies your pore size will become more prominent.

2. Witch hazel can help soothe inflammation.

Naturally, one of the body’s ways of responding to wounds and skin disease is through inflammation. It contains a substance called tannins that effectively calms the skin in cases of bites, sunburns, etc. 

There are many other anti-inflammatory compounds contained in witch hazel which qualifies it as an anti-inflammatory substance. It also helps to soothe the skin against acne, eczema, etc. 

It is also helpful in reducing skin irritation and erythema. Erythema is the reddening of the skin. This is another way the skin responds to injury and other unfavorable conditions. 

Furthermore, because of these anti-inflammatory properties, it can help relieve the itching, redness, and irritation caused by razor burn.

3. Witch hazel protects against skin damage.

Tannins in witch hazel prevent inflammation in the skin. Witch hazel also helps to prevent the spread of cancer cells in the skin. 

Furthermore, antioxidants in the witch hazel plant give optimum protection to your skin and help preserve it from damage. It can be applied on the skin or by steaming.

4. Witch hazel is also helpful for the treatment of acne.

Being an astringent, it contracts the pores of the skin, thereby helping to soothe the skin. It is a prevalent ingredient in drugs meant for curing acne.

Fighting against viral infection is one of the strengths of the witch hazel. It also helps in fighting sore throat and cold. 

Is witch hazel the same as alcohol?

Nowadays, you can easily purchase witch hazel, even in its purest form at your local drugstore. It looks like a bottle of rubbing alcohol, so you might be wondering whether it contains alcohol or is witch hazel the same as alcohol.

The thing is, witch hazel can be found in both alcohol-free and alcohol-based products. That said, almost all types of witch hazel are distilled with alcohol denat (ethanol), and the extract contains 14 to 15% alcohol. Keep in mind though, that research has shown that even a lower amount of alcohol content can damage the skin.

What are the risks of using witch hazel on the skin?

We have listed a few out of the many benefits derived from the witch hazel plant. However, a question remains unanswered: is witch hazel bad for skin? 

Generally, witch hazel is regarded as safe for use on the skin. It rarely causes inflammation (contact dermatitis), and even children tend to tolerate it well. 

Witch hazel can only get dangerous if used in excessive quantity. For your reference, the typical dosage of witch hazel on the skin should be 5 to 10 grams of leaf and bark simmered in 250 milliliters of water or undiluted.

Aside from this, you’ll have to note that witch hazel contains methanol, which is a drying agent that can cause dehydration of the skin. 


Ultimately, is it one of the skincare ingredients to avoid or is witch hazel good for your skin?

Now that you know what are the benefits of witch hazel and its relatively safe properties, we can say that witch hazel can do wonders for the skin. But in order to properly select a witch hazel product for your skin type, consider the other ingredients in the formula.

Dermatologists and skincare experts recommend using a witch hazel toner that contains AHAs or salicylic acid to help exfoliate acne-prone skin. You don’t necessarily have to stick to an alcohol-based formula if you have acne-prone skin. You can even go for a witch hazel toner that has been formulated with aloe gel if you want additional calming effects.