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12 Surprising Uses for Witch Hazel

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Witch HazelYou may not have heard of witch hazel before, but it is a frugal little astringent that has many uses.  If you haven’t heard of it before, here is what you need to know–it was used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago to soothe swelling and even tumors. The astringent comes from the witch hazel shrub; Native Americans boiled the stems to extract the witch hazel. Early American settlers learned to use it from Native Americans, and today, though we don’t often think of witch hazel as a cure for what ails us, it has some beneficial uses.

Witch hazel comes in many forms including astringent, wipes, creams and medicated pads and can be used to treat the following conditions:

Skin Care

  1. Sunburn care. Apply witch hazel to a wash cloth and gently pat on your skin. Witch hazel will help soothe the burn and prevent peeling.
  2. Acne fighter. Rub gently on your face over problem acne areas. Witch hazel is non-drying, making it a better acne fighter than some remedies found in the drug store specifically targeting acne.
  3. Psoriasis and eczema fighter. Witch hazel helps reduce the pain and itching associated with these conditions as well as the visible patches of psoriasis and eczema.
  4. Poison ivy treatment. Because of witch hazel’s ability to reduce pain and itching, it is also perfectly suited for treating poison ivy.
  5. Eye redness and swelling reducer.  If you have been crying or simply have puffiness under your eyes from lack of sleep or illness, put a washcloth in a mix of witch hazel and water, ring out, and gently place on your closed eyes for 10 minutes.
  6. Insect bite soother.  Simply put a little witch hazel on a cotton ball and put on the bite for instant relief and reduction of the accompanying swelling.
  7. Itchy scalp.  After hair coloring and daily blow drying, it is no wonder our scalps get dry and itchy.  Treat the itchiness with one part witch hazel to two parts water.  Massage through hair and rinse.

Physical Injuries

  1. Bruising and swelling reducer. Because witch hazel has anti-inflammatory properties, it is a good treatment to reduce bruising and swelling.
  2. Childbirth injury reducer. Many women, especially those who work with midwives, are told to buy witch hazel before giving birth. Witch hazel can be used to treat hemorrhoids and to relieve the pain of a vaginal tear from delivery.

Cleaning Agent

  1. Household cleaner. Witch hazel can also be combined with lemon juice and baking soda to create an eco-friendly cleaning agent for  your bathrooms.
  2. Jewelry cleaner. Dab some witch hazel on a cotton ball to gently clean your jewelry.

Personal Care

Believe it or not, witch hazel can even be a component of homemade deodorant.  You can find recipes on Wise Bread and Frugal Village if you would like to try. Homemade deodorant may be a good way to save money or to find relief if traditional deodorants irritate your skin.

Witch hazel is not commonly used, which is a shame. At about $3 to $5 a bottle, it offers great value. Keep it handy in your medicine cabinet and use it for everything from treat skin injuries to bruises. Use it around your house as a gentle cleaner or as an ingredient in homemade deodorant.

What are some of your favorite uses for witch hazel?

(Photo: vickyb)

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31 Responses to “12 Surprising Uses for Witch Hazel”

  1. I didn’t know it could be used for so many different things. It’s interesting that it can be used for cleaning too.

  2. Scott says:

    Is it possible to create commerical witch hazel from the plant/flower? Witch hazel is a popular flowering tree because it blooms in late winter before pretty much anything else does.

  3. I should admit that I am surprised to know that witch hazel has many different uses. Thanks for sharing the information!

  4. Shirley says:

    I do remember my grandmother using witch hazel but the practice was never carried on. I’ll give it a try.

  5. NoviceFinancialExpert says:

    I’ve heard that it works well for hemorrhoids per a family doctor friend.

  6. Michele says:

    Between Witch Hazel and Tiger Balm, my mother could cure a boken leg and World Peace. She swears by both of them. =o)

  7. Ingrid says:

    I am using witch hazel for over 20 years for treating acne and when I cut myself shaving. Thank you for sharing this article. I will start using witch hazel for most of the listed items. I am all about being economical and using herbs and ancient natural medical solutions if they work. We use too many pharma drugs in this nation “because it is convenient” and we can buy many over the counter 24 hours.. I will need to stop elaborating before I write an essay.

  8. Catherine says:

    My daughter tried evrything we can imagine for acne. Her aunt told her about Witch Hazel. What a revelation!! Her face is clear and smooth. I now use it daily.

  9. db says:

    Note:Most people are aware of the witch hazel purchased at pharmacies and cosmetics counters which contains alcohol. The suggestion above about use on or around the eyes is only applicable to witch hazel that has been prepared in the same way as tea, allowed to cool to room temperature and then applied. Most likely you can buy the raw witch hazel online or at local herb or health food stores.

  10. Wet a washcloth with witch hazel and massage your scalp for a between-shampoo freshening.

  11. flip says:

    I am BIG fan of natural remedies. I am certain that natural remedies are the most beneficial for our bodies. I am highly adverse to the use of pharmaceuticals. I am reading daily about harmful side effects from their use. Thanks for sharing about the benefits of witch hazel and feel free to throw some other natural remedies at us.

  12. zapeta says:

    How interesting. Sounds like a lot of uses for something that you can pick up on the cheap.

  13. This is interesting stuff, but I’ll stick with old spice for my deodorant! haha

  14. Rochelle says:

    I mix it with a few drops of lavendar oil and use for an astrigent. Works great.

  15. otipoby says:

    I make my own aftershave with witch hazel. I have been using it for a couple years and love it. My recipe is pretty simple.
    I mix witch hazel and grain alcohol in a 50/50 mixture (use generic grain alcohol. Do not try this with rubbing alcohol or vodka). In an 8oz bottle, I will put 7oz of the mixture, 12 drops of glycerine (moisterizer), a pinch of menthol crystals (cooling sensation), and 150 drops of essential oils (scent). My batches are never the same. One of my favorite combinations of oils are bay rum, lavender, rosemary, and lime. Shake before each use. Instead of essential oils, you can also use those small sample vials of cologne.

    If you can find denatured alchohol, you can save some money, but I just go to the liquor store and buy the cheapest bottle of grain alcohol I can find. This mixture is roughly 50% alchohol which is needed to dissolve the oils. For those that do not like alchohol based aftershaves, this is obviously not for you.

  16. DAllen says:

    I like to use it in my bath especially after a exhausting work out along with epsom salt. I also mix it with Avon’s Skin So Soft to reduce mosquito bites and after mosquito bites to reduce the sting.

    When I was younger a lot younger I would rub it on my legs after a heavy night of dancing and it reduced the varicose vein pains in my legs and I was up and ready for work. I still use it as occasionally to remove makeup. I am never without it.

    I love the comment from the Good Luck Duck about the scalp. I will definitely put that one on my list.

  17. brunette says:

    Add un coated non buffered aspirin to it and you get an inexpensive salicylic skin treatment. It’s a great exfoliant for blemishes and after shaving to prevent bumps and it really stops the itching of bug bites. I mix 48 aspirin to 1 cup of witch hazel. I’ve been doing this for 5 years and it works better than anything I’ve tried before.

  18. BERLEY says:

    Does anyone have more info about using witch hazel for psoriasis? No prescription creams have touched my husbands plaque psoriasis. If you have had experience with with hazel, we’d love to hear about it.

    • Marian says:

      I’ve read that alcohol-free witch hazel and glycerin mixed together works well in treating psoriasis.

  19. A Ventura says:

    I keep a bottle in the refrigerator Makes I great aftershave!

  20. Sunshine says:

    So will this help get rid of poison ivy? or just sooth the itch? nothing is working right now and i feel like im going to go insane!! some one help me please, or if anyone knows a good cure id love to hear it!

    • Corey says:

      Sunshine, I get really bad poison ivy-I don’t know about witch hazel for treating it, but it sounds like it might help.. What I would suggest is a product with jewelweed in it, but they can be hard to find, maybe order it online. Also, since I can’t find any of the jewelweed products in WI, for my last bout of poison ivy, I used baking soda. I scrubbed the area really well with soap and water and then made a paste of baking soda, spread it all over the rash and let it dry for 15 minutes. After that I gently rinsed it off with water and put either calamine lotion (not caladryl) or a product called ivarest that I found at Walgreens. I get the really bubbly, seeping poison ivy that is really hard to dry out and I usually have it for several weeks but my last case only lasted a week with the baking soda and ivarest-it was a lighter case than normal but it really nipped it in the bud. Hopefully this helps, I’m sorry you got poison ivy, it’s no fun at all :-(

  21. Keri says:

    I’ve used witch hazel for as long as I can remember. I use it to thin paint when it gets “gloppy”. The color remains the same and it “smooths” the paint for canvas!

  22. art says:

    Drop a capful into the water for my uppers an lowers…cleans and freshens…

  23. Amanda says:

    I did some research and witch hazel is said to treat eczema. I just developed eczema on my hands and let me tell you I was miserable with the itching, swelling and thickening of the skin, now I use witch hazel on my eczema and it is the ONLY SOOTHING REMEDY for the eczema on my hands. It is wonderful for acne as well. This is my new favorite thing! It treats so many things and is so cheap! Try it you won’t be disappointed! Best Wishes!

  24. Donna says:

    I have become quite an advocate of witch hazel by coming in the back door. I hardly remember it in Iowa, because it was like having butter on the table (not in the frig), everybody had it in the bathroom. I use “natural” as much as possible, and this is one of the most versatile.

    Here is an interesting point I learned about the tree – it shoots its seeds up to 30 feet from the tree – guess that is a sure fire way to get noticed and replanted! I would love to be around just to see it! Ouch! Hey, watch where you are shooting mr witch hazel tree!

  25. Liz says:

    Been using it since 1966.when I had my baby..good stuff.


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