Acne is an annoying long-term condition that affects the skin and mental health of many teenagers and adults worldwide. I don’t know of anyone who has never had to deal with an inflamed pimple, but unfortunately, many of us are dealing with a much more severe acne problem.
When medical and over-the-counter treatments fail and irritate the skin more than they help it, you can’t help but think - it shouldn’t be this hard to get normal looking, clear skin!
And, you are right! It shouldn’t!
This is why we’re here, looking into witch hazel for acne as an alternative and different approach that might just help you get what you desire.
This amazing plant has been around since the beginning of our civilization, and since then people have always used it for its healing powers.
How can you use witch hazel for acne? Let’s find out.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis) is a type of flowering plant that is native to North America, China, and Japan. But, the most famous and common type is the one from North America and is also frequently called winterbloom.
Just to address the elephant in the room - no, the name is not in any way related to the meaning of the word “witch” in English (a practitioner of magic). Actually, the plant’s name probably comes from the old English word wice that means “to bend”. In that time people generally attached the word “wice” to various trees with pliant branches.
Sorry to disappoint you, no interesting history there. But, the witch hazel plant itself has something much more interesting to offer.
Since the beginning, Native Americans used witch hazel extract exclusively for medical purposes. They would boil the stems of the shrub to treat swellings, inflammations, and even tumors. Later in time, the plant had become so famous that it grabbed the attention of chemists which then studied the plant and discovered that its twigs are even more effective. After that discovery, witch hazel entered the commercial market and here we are - learning how to use witch hazel for acne.
Before we go on and discuss the benefits and applications of witch hazel we need to highlight that witch hazel is approved for topical use, but the ingestion of witch hazel water during pregnancy and lactation should be avoided - because of its high content of tannins, it’s toxic, although not fatal.
The Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care in 2016, issued a guide on how to relieve the symptoms of enlarged hemorrhoids yourself. In the guide, the authors recommend using anti-inflammatory creams containing zinc, or herbal substances like witch hazel and aloe vera. This is because these ingredients are believed to relieve skin irritations and itching, as well as help sooth pain.
Witch hazel is definitely not a substitute for regular hemorrhoid treatments but as a natural home remedy, it can bring you some relief.
Typically, witch hazel is used directly on the affected areas on the skin, by gently applying it with a clean cotton ball.
Because of its powerful antibacterial properties, witch hazel is recommended as a prevention measure and treatment against bacterial ear infections. It’s believed that if you apply a few drops of witch hazel extract inside the ear it will control bacteria overgrowth and infections within the ear, break up wax, and help remove unpleasant odor.
You can use witch hazel to prevent oil and dead skin cell buildup on the scalp. Additionally, it can help soothe irritations, inflammation, and remove odors from your hair.
According to many experiences people have shared over the internet, your hair will look shinier, healthier and more volumized.
In 2014, the Center for Dermatology and Disease in Zurich published a study about the effects of witch hazel based shampoos on sensitive, red, and burned-out scalp. 1,373 patients were included in the study and all of them were given witch hazel based shampoo. Almost one-third of the patients reported improvements in their symptoms during the research period. The research came to the conclusion that skincare products containing witch hazel extract can help relieve patients’ irritated scalps, redness, itching, and inflammation.
Coming down with a cold? Some people like to drink witch hazel tea to soothe their symptoms.
The astringent properties of witch hazel make it useful for battling many throat conditions and symptoms of the common cold. The soothing properties of witch hazel can lower the pain and discomfort caused by coughs.
If you want to boost the soothing effect even further, add a little honey to sweeten the tea.
Insects hate the smell of witch hazel, which is lucky for you and me. This is the reason why you can find witch hazel extract in the formula of countless bug repellents. So, in this context, you can even use this wonderful ingredient as a preventive measure against insect bites, as well as a remedy after you’ve been bitten. Many people turn to witch hazel to reduce pain and swelling from stings, allergies, and irritations.
Another great thing about witch hazel is its ability to protect the skin against skin cancer, or other serious conditions most commonly caused by or associated with sun damage.
As we mentioned in the earlier paragraph, which hazel has polyphenols and tannin antioxidants - very effective ingredients against melanoma cells. They can even protect healthy skin cells from the consequences of aging, meaning your skin will stay tight and youthful.
Being as amazing as it is, witch hazel can do even more. It can bring you relief from acne breakouts. Witch hazel is a natural and safe alternative to many anti-acne products that cause skin irritations and cost a fortune. Try applying witch hazel extract directly on the affected area of the skin and let it work its magic. For better effects, you can combine it with some powerful anti-acne ingredients, like coconut or tea tree oil. Below we have prepared for you 6 remedies, all containing witch hazel along with other natural ingredients and all of them effective for acne problems.
The scientific data in the studies we mentioned definitely backs up the claims that witch hazel can be effective for acne. It can reduce inflammation, redness, oiliness, and bleeding. It can also reduce bacteria growth and it helps the skin heal faster. How exactly does witch hazel make this happen?
When it comes to clearing acne, the astringent properties of witch hazel are mainly responsible for that effect. The polyphenols and tannins, which we mentioned earlier, make witch hazel one of the most effective natural acne remedies.
There’re high amounts of polyphenols and tannins inside the twigs and leaves of the plant. Tannins remove extra oil from the skin’s surface and cause the tissues to contract so that pores shrink. This prevents bacteria, debris, and other environmental irritants to be unable to enter and clog the pores.
Aside from tannins, witch hazel also contains compounds called “gallate esters,” of which certain studies showed are capable of stopping mutated cell cycles and eliminating dangerous cells.
Additionally, witch hazel is considered an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient, which makes it excellent in fighting free-radical build up - a common result of oxidative stress. When the skin is exposed to strong sunlight, air pollution, a poor diet and lack of water, or stress, the body goes into oxidative stress and releases free-radicals that damage the cells. Witch hazel can prevent this effect to a certain extent.
One study from 2014, examined how some moisturizers can contribute in reducing signs and symptoms of acne. The research analyzed 52 anti-acne moisturizing products and found that aloe vera and witch hazel, which are both botanical anti-inflammatories, were the most common natural ingredients found in the products.
It’s recommended that you run everything by your doctor before deciding to use something on your skin as an acne treatment remedy.
Some ingredients, witch hazel included, are pretty harmless and no serious negative effects have been reported. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to check with your doctor.
Better safe than sorry, right?
It’s rare but there have been examples when people have shown allergic reactions to witch hazel. Symptoms might include itching, swelling, rashes, and in some extreme cases, breathing issues, nausea, and dizziness.
In case you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, please immediately seek medical attention.
This is why it's always a good idea to perform a test patch when you apply the ingredient directly on a really small area of the skin, to see how your skin is going to react in the following 24 hours.
According to dermatologists worldwide, you should always aim for alcohol-free products. Witch hazel is no exception. Even though, the ingredient itself is really beneficial for the skin, if the product has alcohol in its formula that might cause dryness and create a reverse-effect by triggering the sebaceous glands to produce even more oil.
As mentioned in the paragraph above, some people develop allergic reactions to the ingredient. The problem is that everyone is allergic to at least something, and witch hazel might be the thing for you. This is why you should turn it into a habit to always perform a patch test before trying out a new ingredient or product. If, after 24 hours your skin doesn’t react and you feel comfortable you can start using the product on problematic areas.
If, by any case, you start to feel uncomfortable, itchy or you see redness, go wash your face immediately.
Another good idea, especially for people with sensitive skin, is to start introducing the ingredient into their skincare regimen slowly. For example, start by using it two to three times a week. Then, next week start to apply it every second day until you get to every day. And, if you are satisfied with how it feels on your face you can proceed to use it even a couple of times in a day.
To use witch hazel as a home remedy you could simply apply it directly to your face. Yes, it’s that simple and effective.
Wash your face with warm water and pat it dry. Then, take one cotton pad and pour a few drops of the witch hazel on it. Start to gently rub the cotton pad on the affected areas of the face and then slowly go over the whole face. Stay away from the eyes. Let your face dry completely before rinsing off with lukewarm water. Finish the procedure by applying a moisturizer on your face. For best results, you can repeat this procedure every day.
Another great way to use witch hazel in your homemade acne treatment is by mixing it with aloe vera.
Why aloe vera? Well, if you think about it - how many skincare products do you know that use aloe vera in their formula? Exactly. Aloe vera has incredible antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which have led to its popular use in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. The aloe vera gel can prevent bacteria to infect acne wounds, which can lead to reduced inflammation and faster healing.
What to do?
Just mix together one tbsp of aloe vera gel and one tbsp of witch hazel. Blend until you get a smooth, runny paste and use your fingertips to apply on affected areas. Because both ingredients have many benefits for the skin and are gentle on the skin you can spread the paste on your whole face and let it dry. You don’t need to wash your face afterward.
There’s not one homemade remedy list that doesn’t include honey! It seems like this super-powerful ingredient has it all. Honey is known to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and healing properties. This means that honey is effective in killing the acne-causing bacteria on the face and with that to reduce redness and swelling.
What to do?
Mix the two ingredients in one small bowl - one tbsp of honey and a few drops of the witch hazel and you have some powerful paste in your hands there. Clean your face and hands with lukewarm water and pat it dry. After this, use your hands to apply the paste all over your face. Let it act for about 20 to 30 minutes and then wash it off with warm water. You can repeat this procedure every day.
Herbs and teas may not be famous for their dramatic effects on the body or the skin, but when you combine them with the right ingredients and with regular use you can see some great results. And if not, you can still be satisfied with the smooth, gentle and clean look on your face. For the next recipe, you are free to use another herb, like green tea for example, if you prefer it. But, we recommend chamomile because it’s said to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.
What to do?
Take one empty jar and put some chamomile herbs inside it and then pour witch hazel - enough to cover the herbs. The more herbs you put it, the stronger the potion is going to be. Close it good and store it in a cool and dry place for two weeks. You should check it every day, shake it and see if you need to add more witch hazel.
After two weeks, strain the liquid and keep it in a bottle. Take a cotton ball, dip it in the liquid and apply all over the face. You don’t need to wash your face and you can apply on the face on a daily basis.
What you will need?
Around 15ml of rose water and witch hazel, as well as a few drops of tea tree oil. Find a bottle, that can hold more than 30 mil of liquid and add inside the rose water, the witch hazel and the tea tree oil. Close the bottle and shake it well for the ingredients to mix.
You can use this tonic on a daily basis, Just simply take a cotton ball and dip it in the tonic then apply on your face. You don’t have the need to wash your face afterward.
Okay, so fruits and veggies are antioxidant powerhouses because of the high amount of vitamins they have inside them. But, aside from eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, you can also take the vitamins in the form of supplements, mix them together with other powerful ingredients and apply them together directly on the surface of the skin where the problems are. For this remedy, we will use Vitamin C, because complements and boosts the healing and astringent properties of the witch hazel. The lavender oil, on the other hand, has soothing and healing properties, as well as a calming effect on the nervous system.
What to do?
Mix together a ½ teaspoons of Vitamin C powder, a ¼ cup of witch hazel, and 5-10 drops of the lavender oil. You can add the ingredients in a small bottle, close it and shake it to blend everything nicely. You can use this tonic every day, but make sure you are not using the same blend for more than a week because the Vitamin C will oxidize and it won’t have any effect on the skin.
For best results, every time after washing your face, take a cotton ball, dip it in the liquid and apply all over your face.