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What Is Witch Hazel? Plus, 7 Ways to Use It in Your Skin Care Routine

close up of witch hazel plant

Whether you’re someone who suffers from breakouts, has dry skin or can’t get rid of that pesky razorburn, witch hazel can come to your rescue. Although the name makes it sound like a potion that would be brewing in some creepy castle basement, witch hazel is actually a common ingredient that’s found in many skin care items—and for good reason. The natural astringent compound can be used to treat many skin issues.

Witch hazel (pictured) is actually a plant native to North America and parts of Asia, and the leaves and the bark of the shrubs are used both alone and in combination with other products to help remedy the skin. “Witch hazel has long been recognized worldwide as a popular and effective remedy to clarify skin and shrink pores,” says holistic health practitioner Claudia Matles. It has a long history of use in the beauty industry.”

Top 7 Skin Care Benefits of Witch Hazel

  1. 1. Improves Skin Tone
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    1. Improves Skin Tone

    “Witch hazel is one my most favorite ways to reduce puffiness, control blemishes, tighten pores and lock in moisture,” says Matles. It can give your skin more radiance, as it helps it heal and refine the appearance of pores. “Witch hazel’s ability to reduce inflammation and tighten skin also lends to its ability to act as a natural remedy to treat discoloration and puffiness around the eyes,” she says.
    Related: The Best Toner for Your Skin Type

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  2. 2. Moisturizes
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    2. Moisturizes

    Witch hazel cannot only help control blemishes, but it can also keep your skin smooth and supple as well. “Being that it is anti-inflammatory, witch hazel is a great addition in any moisturizing formula or gel for those who are outdoors a lot,” says esthetician Holly Cutler. “It’s also great in light gels or creams for combination and oily skin.”
    Related: The Best Moisturizer for Your Skin Type

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  3. 3. Controls Oil on the Hair & Scalp
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    3. Controls Oil on the Hair & Scalp

    Witch hazel can even be used on the hair when you just don’t have time to do a full shampoo and condition. “Witch hazel makes an excellent dry shampoo,” says Matles. Not only does it help the formula dry more quickly on the hair, but it helps absorb oil and keep your hair cleansed and refreshed.
    Related: How to Use Dry Shampoo the Right Way

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  4. 4. Treats Acne

    If you want to get your breakouts under control, you might want to consider a product that contains witch hazel. “Witch hazel is popularly known as the natural astringent due to its high concentration of tannins, helping to remove natural oils,” says Matles. “Many people have or are exposed to environmental pollutants and applying witch hazel to the face can help reduce the amount of contaminants that go into the pores, causing blemishes.”
    Related: 11 Natural Acne Treatments

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  5. 5. Evens Skin Tone & Helps Heal Bruises
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    5. Evens Skin Tone & Helps Heal Bruises

    Including witch hazel in your cleanser can help keep your skin clear and smooth without drying it out. It can also help even out your skin tone. “Witch hazel is known to treat blemishes on the face and the entire body,” says Matles. “When applying witch hazel directly on bruises, it helps fade discoloration and speeds up the recovery process of underlying symptoms of the bruise and blemish.”
    Related: Best Face Cleansers for Acne-Prone Skin

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  6. 6. Prevents Razor Bumps
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    6. Prevents Razor Bumps

    Witch hazel can be applied post-shave to soothe and heal the skin, especially if you are prone to razorburn and bumps. “Shaving irritates the skin barrier and can cause irritation of which witch hazel can easily calm,” says Cutler. “With its astringent abilities, witch hazel can soothe skin redness immediately post shave, as well as stop bleeding from cuts.”
    Related: How to Get Rid of Razorburn, Fast

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  7. 7. Treats Many Concerns at Once
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    7. Treats Many Concerns at Once

    Witch hazel can do it all, so it’s no surprise it’s used as the main ingredient for a multipurpose skin care treatment. Using these pads can help you simultaneously cleanse skin, remove excess oil and exfoliate the skin—as well as keep the skin evenly toned and moisturized.
    Related: Our Favorite Multitasking Beauty Products

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Freelance Writer

Carina Wolff

Carina Wolff is a health and wellness writer based out of Los Angeles. She graduated from New York University with a degree in journalism and psychology. When she’s not writing, doing yoga or exploring mountains and beaches, she spends her time cooking for her healthy food blog, Kale Me Maybe.