Is It Safe To Use Witch Hazel On Your Skin?

Witch hazel is a botanical extract derived from the Hamamelis virginiana plant. Indigenous to the United States, witch hazel has been used by Native Americans for its medicinal properties for centuries (Healthline). Acting as an astringent, witch hazel can be applied topically to cleanse the skin and treat certain skin conditions, such as acne. Although witch hazel is generally safe to use and can offer many skin benefits, it's not for everyone. For people with dry or sensitive skin, witch hazel can further dehydrate or irritate skin (via Insider). 

If your skin becomes dry, red, or irritated after applying witch hazel to your face, hold off on using it for a while, and follow up with a hydrating moisturizer, like Cerave or Eucerin. This will help maintain and protect your skin barrier and prevent your skin from drying out. "If you have [well-balanced] skin, you can use witch hazel daily," Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, told Insider. "But be cautious if you are sensitive, and I would avoid it altogether if you have conditions like eczema or rosacea," he cautions. 

The benefits of witch hazel

If you don't have overly dry or sensitive skin, witch hazel can benefit your skin in a number of ways. For instance, witch hazel can be an effective treatment for acne (via Healthline). This is because the tannins in witch hazel can remove excess oil from your face and dry out blemishes. Since oil often contributes to breakouts, decreasing the amount of oil on your skin may help reduce acne. 

Witch hazel can also be used to treat skin damage from sun exposure. While witch hazel cannot be used as a sunscreen, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe sunburns and reduce any redness. It can also be used as an ointment for minor skin burns and razor burn by soaking a towel or cloth in the solution and gently pressing it on the affected area. Since witch hazel can help reduce inflammation, it can be used to relieve a wide range of conditions, including bug bites, diaper rash, and hemorrhoids.