Witch hazel is a spooky-sounding common toner ingredient that has an almost magical ability to make your skin calm down and feel better almost instantly.
But, aside from the pleasant instant-gratification of application, what can witch hazel actually help with?
In this article, we will focus on one of the most touted witch hazel benefits, acne control, and see if it lives up to its mystical name.
What is witch hazel?
Witch hazel is a type of flowering shrub that is sometimes also referred to as winter bloom or its scientific name Hamamelis.
Four species of witch hazel grow in North America, and one species can be found in Japan.
Native Americans used witch hazel extracts for various medical applications including swelling, inflammation, and tumors.
Witch-hazel the beauty ingredient is often produced by macerating the leaves and stems of the plant and then distilling and is commonly used in skincare products.
What does witch hazel do for acne?
There are a few potential reasons why witch hazel is sought after for those struggling with acne.
1. First off, witch hazel tends to have a calming, soothing, and anti-inflammatory effect when applied to the skin.
This comes in handy during rough breakouts that leave your skin feeling angry and inflamed, providing some much needed instant relief.
2. Secondly, witch hazel has some plant molecules called tannins which provide an antioxidant effect, helping to protect the skin from damaging free radicals.
3. Finally, witch hazel can help clear away excess oil from the skin.
And, since many breakouts start out by an accumulation of excess oil in the pores, having a gentle oil reducer can be a lifesaver for your skin.
Who shouldn’t use witch hazel
While witch hazel is one of the most gentle skin ingredients around, and nearly everyone can safely try it out for their acne, there may be a few infrequent cases of people that it just doesn’t suit.
First, If you have intensely sensitive skin and nearly everything tends to “set it off” you may want to start with a patch test of witch hazel on the inside of your wrist to check for any reactions.
While reactions to witch hazel are rare, if you have this sort of hyper-reactive skin, it may not fit with your skin type.
Secondly, if you have chronically dry skin that dehydrates at the drop of a hat, you may not want to use witch hazel too often to avoid additional dryness.
While witch hazel is pretty mild and non-drying as far as toners go, if your skin is like a desert, you may benefit from avoiding all astringents – even the gentle ones.
Pro Tip: You will want to find a witch hazel product that does not contain alcohol, as this tends to be more harsh, irritating, and drying than the alcohol-free witch hazel toner varieties.
How to apply witch hazel for acne?
Step 1: Clean your face with a gentle cleanser and then pat dry.
Step 2: Apply about a ½ tsp amount of the witch hazel solution to a clean cotton ball or facial round and gentle wipe all around your face.
Step 3: Continue with the rest of your face routine including serums, creams, or acne medications.
Witch hazel is gentle enough for everyday use, but if you find your skin is getting too dry, you can reduce how often you use witch hazel during the week.
For excessively oily or irritated skin, you may be able to use witch hazel multiple times a day.
- Witch hazel may be a beneficial add on to your skin routine if you struggle with acne.
- Studies show that witch hazel can have an anti-inflammatory calming effect to nix the redness common in breakouts, as well as functioning as an antioxidant, and helping to mop up any extra oils.
- Most people are able to handle one (or two) rounds of applying witch hazel daily no problem, but if you have chronically dry skin – you may want to only use witch hazel once a day or occasionally to prevent excess drying.
- For those with extremely sensitive skin, who develop irritation even with the most gentle of products, you will want to do a quick spot test on your wrist to make sure your skin doesn’t react to witch hazel.
- In general, witch hazel is one of the most tolerated, beneficial, and easy to use plant-derived skin ingredients – so give it a try!