October is here, which means the season of the witch is upon us. Sounds spooky, doesn’t it?
But not all witches are bent on spreading mischief. For every wicked witch of the west, there’s a Glenda guiding you safely back to Kansas. Witch hazel falls firmly in that latter camp.
Hamamelis virginiana is a type of shrub native to North America. For centuries, natives used it for inflammation relief as well as to treat a variety of other skin conditions. And witch hazel still benefits us to this day!
1) It Can Relieve Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to illness and injury. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious illness and discomfort.
Witch hazel has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that neutralize free radicals. When applied directly to the skin, it reduces swelling and fights bacteria.
Another wonderful way to reduce inflammation is by supplementing with turmeric.
2) It’s Great for Acne
A natural astringent, witch hazel can be applied to a cotton pad and used to combat acne and blemishes. It removes the oil that clogs your pores and provides inflammation relief around the infected area. According to dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman, “The twigs and bark of the plant contain therapeutic constituents that, when extracted and distilled, create the clear, fragrant, natural astringent that has been known for generations as a natural skin care solution.”
3) It’s a Natural Toner for Oily Skin
Because of its astringent properties, witch hazel is perfect for treating oily skin. Dr. David E. Bank, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York, recommends it for people with all skin types. Only a few drops of it are necessary to cleanse the face and remove excess oil, but be sure not to overdo it. Applying too much witch hazel can dry the skin out, so moisturize after you cleanse.
4) It Soothes Bug Bites and Itchiness
Bit up by mosquitoes? Tormented by poison ivy? Witch hazel is your answer. “Its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties make it great as an anti-itch for bug bites,” says Dr. Engelman. Witch hazel extract can also be used to soothe skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
5) It Erases Razor Bumps
Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, witch hazel reduces the redness and irritation caused by razors. Many post-shave balms list it as a key ingredient.
6) It Treats Diaper Rash
Diaper rash: the bane of your little one’s existence. Witch hazel not only soothes the irritation, it also has a natural cooling effect. Your baby will appreciate that, and you’ll appreciate the antiseptic properties that reduce the inflammation and heal their sore bum.
7) It’s a Balm for Sunburns
A sunburn is just another kind of inflammation, and you already know witch hazel is perfect for that. To add some extra relief, keep a spray bottle of witch hazel and water solution in the fridge, and then spray it on as needed. This may also prevent the sunburn from peeling.
8) It Reduces Bruises and Scrapes
To quickly heal bruises, treat with a dab of witch hazel three times a day. A vasoconstrictor, witch hazel tightens blood vessels, which makes it useful for treating minor scrapes and scratches.
9) It’s a Natural Ointment for Hemorrhoids
For all the reasons we’ve described above, witch hazel is a superb treatment for hemorrhoids (that’s why you’ll find it displayed prominently on tubes of Preparation H). A dab of this will reduce swelling, tighten the skin, stop minor bleeding and prevent the itching that drives its victims crazy. For a natural ointment that competes with store brands, combine it with aloe, glycerine or petroleum jelly.
10) It Rejuvenates Your Eyes
Say goodbye to those dark bags under your eyes with a dab of witch hazel. It will firm up the skin and reduce the puffiness. Witch hazel can also make red eyes disappear. Soak a cloth in a witch hazel and water solution and let it sit on your closed eyes for about 10 minutes.
11) It Minimizes Stretch Marks
This is a remedy often recommended to pregnant women. Apply witch hazel to stretch marks twice a day to tighten the skin and diminish their color and visibility.
12) It Eliminates Dandruff
A dry scalp can certainly cause more flakes in the hair, but too much oil can just as easily be the culprit. Certain kinds of yeast can live on our scalps and consume that excess oil, which leads to the accumulation of flaking skin cells. A solution of witch hazel and water sprayed over the scalp before a shower can reduce the oiliness of hair and prevent dandruff over time.
13) It’s a Natural Deodorant
If you aren’t already convinced that witch hazel is one of nature’s most versatile cosmetics, let this be the final word. Deodorant is a modern marvel, but its several chemical ingredients have uncertain long-term effects.
Circumstantial evidence has linked aluminum, a common ingredient, to Alzheimer’s disease and, propylene glycol, found in most personal care products, has been linked to cancer and developmental disorders. Further research is necessary, but until the final word comes down, witch hazel is a natural and safe alternative to conventional deodorant.
Apply a liberal amount to a cotton pad and dab it under your arms (for those without shaved armpits, mix witch hazel with water and use a spray bottle), then allow it to dry before putting on your clothes. It’s that simple. If you’d like to add a scent, mix the solution with your favorite essential oil.
Relieves inflammation, eliminates dandruff, treats diaper rash – witch hazel naturally does this and so much more!