How To Use Witch Hazel For Acne

By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: March 5, 2019
How To Use Witch Hazel For Acne

Witch hazel is commonly known as winterbloom and it is primarily found in eastern parts of North America. This shrub has found important applications in skin care, especially for treating acne. Witch hazel is traditionally used as a natural remedy for fighting sores, infections and swelling. Owing to its fantastic astringent properties, it is thought to even possibly provide protection against skin cancer. So, if you are looking for a natural treatment for acne, look no further than witch hazel. Read this oneHOWTO article to find out how to use witch hazel for acne, as well as other uses for witch hazel in your beauty regimen.

You may also be interested in: How to Make Soap for Acne

What is witch hazel?

Witch hazel is a shrub native to North America. It belongs to the family of Hamamelidaceae plants, and is commonly called winterbloom or sometimes Spotted Elder. Its bark and leaves have skin healing astringent properties that can naturally reduce acne, inflammation, poison ivy, insect bites and blisters. Its astringent and antioxidant properties are extremely useful for the skin, as it is particularly effective in killing bacteria. The bacteria lives in skin pores, causes cellular damage, slows down healing, induces signs of aging and can even lead to skin cancer. Today, a large variety of OTC beauty products contain witch hazel extract, including anti-aging serums, after-shave lotions, shaving creams, shampoos and more.

How Witch Hazel Works

Witch hazel has amazing healing properties that are helpful in reducing inflammation, swelling and cellular damage. It is also effective in soothing wounds and relieving pain. Its leaves, twigs and bark contain tannins and polyphenols. When added to water or alcohol, it makes witch hazel water that can be topically applied on skin to treat acne. As far as other uses for witch hazel are concerned, witch hazel water can also be ingested orally to stop symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, flu, cough, cold and mucus colitis.

Here is how witch hazel works:

  • Tannins in witch hazel make it a natural astringent which works by removing extra oil from the skin[1]. For this reason, witch hazel is one of the most effective natural remedies for acne. A number of OTC gels, lotions and washes contain witch hazel for treating acne. Unlike most other cosmetic and skin care products, witch hazel is free of chemicals, pollutants, fragrances, contaminants and other irritating ingredients.
  • Witch hazel also contains gallate esters that include methyl gallate, hydrolyzable tannins and proanthocyanidins. It is a polyphenolic substance that is thought to inhibit proliferation of cancerous cells, particularly in the colon[2], although further research is needed to determine its full effects. It is also capable of inhibiting mutated cells and stimulating apoptosis.
  • Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, witch hazel forages free radicals and provides protection against growth of tumor and damage to DNA. Chances of free radical damage increase with prolonged exposure to pollution, poor diet, UV light and stress. Since witch hazel is rich in polyphenols, it works as an anti-aging nutritional supplement that protects cells and slows down development of diseases.

Using Witch Hazel for Acne

People have been using witch hazel for centuries to naturally cure acne and remove acne spots. One of the most popular ways of using witch hazel is to dilute its extract in a carrier oil and then apply it directly on the skin. You may use it as a lotion, face wash, serum or toner. If you have acne-prone skin, applying witch hazel to it can help in reducing oiliness, redness, bleeding and inflammation. It reduces growth of bacteria on your skin and accelerates the time required to heal scabs and infections. Although nothing can shrink your skin pores, witch hazel can diminish the look of your pores and stop excess production of oil, sweat, whiteheads and blackheads. All of these contribute to the reduction of breakouts, as a result of which you feel less tempted to pick at your pimples.

You can apply it directly on your skin wherever you see a zit developing or about to break out. Its effects are boosted if you apply it in combination of apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, tea tree oil and other antibacterial products. Witch hazel is also effective in curbing signs of irritations caused in the past due to acne.

How To Use Witch Hazel For Acne - Using Witch Hazel for Acne

Apply witch hazel directly

The simplest way is to take some witch hazel on a cotton ball and apply it on your acne prone areas a couple of times a day. Start with a small amount and gradually increase the amount and frequency, giving some time for your skin to get adjusted. When you directly apply witch hazel on your skin after cleansing, it locks in moisture and prevents your skin from becoming too dry. This prevents flaky and dead skin cells from blocking your skin pores and inducing inflammation. Follow these steps to apply witch hazel directly on your skin:

  • Get some pure cotton pads
  • Wash your face with water and soap. It’s better to use a vegetable-based, gentle glycerin soap
  • Open the bottle of the witch hazel extract, hold a cotton pad at the end and flip it upside down quickly. With this technique, you will distribute a little amount of the extract on the cotton pad
  • Wipe the pad all over your face, avoiding eyes, nostrils and hairline
  • Gently scrub to make your face less oily and clean
  • You will notice dark dirt coming on the cotton pad from your face, particularly when you use it for the first time
  • Use another cotton pad and repeat the process until the cotton comes off clean

Apply witch hazel every time after you clean your face. You may also carry it in your bag so that you can freshen up your skin by afternoon. Since it is also helpful in controlling redness, you can apply it any time you want to look fresh.

Make An Acne-Control Toner

You can make an acne-control toner with witch hazel in order to add to its healing and soothing properties. You can add some ingredients to enhance its healing properties and tone your skin. Let’s see how to make this toner.

Ingredients required:

  • ½ tsp vitamin C powder. If you have bought vitamin C capsules, you can break them open
  • ¼ cup witch hazel extract
  • 6 drops lavender essential oil


  • Take witch hazel extract in a glass bottle
  • Pour vitamin C powder into it. Vitamin C will provide some astringent and healing properties to your toner
  • Add lavender essential oil in the bottle. Lavender essential oil is used to provide some moisture to your face and prevent dryness due to the astringent properties of witch hazel. You don’t need to moisturize your face after using this toner. Lavender oil will also make your toner smell delightful
  • Shake gently after which the mixture will become cloudy
  • This mixture is enough to last for a week. Don’t make more amount than this, as vitamin C may get oxidized and it will become useless
  • Store this toner in a dark place, away from light and heat
  • Take a few drops of this toner on a cotton pad and wipe it over your face

Other Uses For Witch Hazel

In addition to treating acne, witch hazel is also effective in fighting signs of aging, preventing damage due to sun exposure, treating insect bites, cleansing hair, improving hair, preventing ingrown hair, treating rashes, stopping ear infections, soothing sore throat, stopping pet odor, healing hemorrhoids, relieving toothache, and protecting lips, mouth and gums.

If you want to read similar articles to How To Use Witch Hazel For Acne, we recommend you visit our Beauty & Personal Care category.


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