The many benefits of Witch Hazel

You may be familiar with Witch Hazel or you may not.  In this article we are going to explore some of the many uses of Witch Hazel and why it should be in everyone's bathroom cabinet.

First a little background.  Witch Hazel is an extract sourced from the leaves and bark of a North American deciduous shrub (Hamamelis Virginiana), often distilled and preserved with alcohol.  Witch Hazel contains tannins which help reduce swelling, fight bacteria, and remove excess oils from the skin.  This astringent property makes Witch Hazel a great natural solution for people who are battling acne.

Witch Hazel has many applications and can be used to topically tighten pores, reduce inflammation, calm the irritation of bug bites, soothe sun burnt skin, or used as an aftershave, among other things.

Using Witch Hazel on your face after washing will remove any residual makeup, or environmental grime encountered during the day.  If you are someone who wakes up with puffy eyes in the morning, be sure to get as close to your eye as possible (without getting it in your eye) when using Witch Hazel at night.  This practice will help to reduce the puffiness you experience in the morning.

Because Witch Hazel has astringent properties it can be used to reduce hemorrhoids (yes I just went there).  Unfortunately most people have had hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.  They are common for pregnant women or people who have insufficient fruits and vegetables in their diets.  Even if neither of those apply to you, its possible you can have that uncomfortable experience anyway due to genetics.  Not to worry!  Simply apply Witch Hazel to a cotton ball and dab the effected area.  Witch Hazel is safe to use on mucus membranes and will cool and reduce the inflammation quickly.  Alright, enough of that...

If you are a mosquito magnet and end up with some maddening bug bites after your outing to the lake, the game, or picnic, simply apply Witch Hazel to the bites and let the Witch Hazel calm the itchy burning skin.  Reapply as needed.  Similarly Witch Hazel can be used on Poison Ivy or Poison Oak rashes or Chicken Pox blisters.  The cooling effect of the Witch Hazel will reduce the burning of the skin and provide some relief to the person effected. If only I'd known this when I got Chicken Pox the second time in Middle School! (It is possible to get Chicken Pox more than once if the first case wasn't severe enough to develop resistance to future exposure.)

Once I was selling at an event and a woman, who was also a vendor, approached me and asked if I had anything for bug bites.  Her teen-aged daughter was helping her and had played in a marching band at a game the night before.  She had been seriously snacked on by mosquitoes and the woman was desperate to find something to bring her daughter relief.  I suggested the Witch Hazel, which she bought without blinking.  The next day she found my booth before the event opened, and told me how well it worked.  Her daughter was grateful, and I could see that the woman was as well, not to have to endure 8 eight hours with a miserable and itchy teenage girl.

Witch Hazel can also be used to prevent ingrown hairs and reduce razor burn.  This is why it is used as an aftershave.  Using Witch Hazel after shaving will also slow bleeding from any nicks from the razor.  Witch Hazel can also be used after getting an area of the body waxed to reduce inflammation, clean the pores, and reduce the chance of developing ingrown hairs.

If you get a sunburn apply Witch Hazel to the affected area and allow to air dry.  Witch Hazel will cool the skin, reduce inflammation, and condition and moisturize the skin so that it may heal.

As you can see there are numerous uses for Witch Hazel, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.  There are internal uses for Witch Hazel as well, but I encourage you to search for an unscented option if you are looking to use it that way. Always be sure to bring Witch Hazel with you when you travel because as you can see there are so many uses for it, you won't want to be without it!  I hope you learned something and found the information useful.





Witch Hazel shrub, Apothecuryous
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