You may recognize witch hazel as that clear liquid you were told would help get rid of your pimples when you were 13. But the natural astringent can actually do more for your skin than just minimize breakouts. It can also hydrate skin, soothe irritation, de-puff under-eyes, and even relieve symptoms of a few pesky skin conditions.
“Also known as winterbloom, snapping hazel and spotted alder, Witch Hazel is indigenous to the woodland areas of the Northeastern United States,” Dr. Marina Peredo, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told YouBeauty. The plant flowers into pretty golden blooms, but the therapeutic and aromatic qualities come from the twigs and bark.
What can witch hazel do for the skin?
“Witch Hazel has a multitude of applications,” Dr. Peredo explained. Most importantly, it’s safe for all skin types, even sensitive. The most popular use is as an astringent — meaning it tightens the skin and therefore minimizes pores. But it can also be a helpful ingredient for those suffering from eczema or psoriasis.
Apply witch hazel twice daily along with moisturizer, Peredo suggests, if you have one of these irriteated skin conditions. “It is especially important in the cooler months when skin is naturally drier. It can also provide some itch relief.”
Witch hazel can also help improve redness associated with rosacea. Astringents work by constricting blood vessels, which decreases blood flow to the skin and hopefully some of that red flush that’s so hard to get rid of. Its antibacterial properties can also provide some relief for patients who have acne along with their rosacea. “Because of its naturally hydrating properties, witch hazel also boosts moisture,” Peredo added.
Other unique uses? “You can apply it to bruises as it acts as a vasoconstrictor,” Peredo said, adding that witch hazel also works on top of razor burn to calm down the redness.
How should I use witch hazel?
You can use pure witch hazel straight from the bottle or via a skincare product that has it in its formula. Peredo recommends applying it twice daily.
When choosing a product, keep in mind the effect you’re after. If you’re looking to treat acne or pore size, go for a product like Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Astringent ($6). The alcohol increases the astringent properties, but those who tend to go dry may want to choose something without it, like the Foaming Facial Wash. The brand also recently launched face wipes — — to get all the benefits witch hazel has to offer on the go.
To treat under-eye puffiness, soak cotton pads in witch hazel atringent, and place them under your eyes to tighten and calm.
We also love how Dr. Jart+ harnesses witch hazel in this Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask ($8) that cools, refreshes, and leaves skin feeling clean, calm and hydrated.
READ MORE: 21 Great Pore-Minimizing Products