Witch hazel – it sounds like a hocus pocus ingredient that’s used in spells and magic potions. But if you have ever suffered from acne, stretch marks, hemorrhoids, or varicose veins, or if your baby has ever been plagued by a dreaded diaper rash, then you’ll be glad to know that witch hazel isn’t a mythical ingredient, and that it has the power to cure these and other common ailments.
But what exactly is witch hazel?
In its most common form, witch hazel is a clear, inexpensive liquid that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. With its multitude of uses and cure-all solutions, you’d think that witch hazel would be a staple in every medicine cabinet in the world. Yet many people still don’t realize how powerful this magical elixir can be.
Witch hazel comes from a compound made of the leaves and bark of the North American witch-hazel shrub. Native Americans used to boil the stems of the shrub and use the resulting decoction to treat swelling, inflammation, and tumors. In modern times, witch hazel is still commonly used to treat swelling and inflammation, among other health woes like acne, bug bites, hemorrhoids, and bruising.
6 Major Benefits of Using Witch Hazel
Relives Post-Partum Pain
Hospitals usually give chilled witch hazel pads to women recovering from childbirth. Witch hazel has long been know to reduce swelling and soothe wounds, both of which are experienced by post-partum mothers.
Soothes Diaper Rash
A baby’s sensitive skin can be prone to the rubbing of the diaper, along with prolonged exposure to moisture in the diaper. Witch hazel offers a safe, natural alternative to diaper creams and chlorine wipes. Its astringent properties are similar to zinc oxide, a common ingredient found in most diaper creams.
The anti-inflammatory properties can help cool your sunburn and provide much needed relief. Although this is a temporary solution, as it doesn’t actually make your sunburn disappear, it can feel soothing against burnt skin and help divert your attention from your pain.
Witch hazel can help you keep bugs at bay the natural way. Rather than coat your body in potentially hazardous bug sprays and chemicals, you can use witch hazel as a base in a homemade bug spray to keep those bloodsuckers from sharing their germs with you.
Prevent Body Odor
You can create your very own all-natural deodorant using just one ingre dient: witch hazel. Just dab some under your arms to prevent body odor. This is an exceptional alternative to traditional deodorants that might contain harmful, hormone-disrupting ingredients, as well as a good solution for people with sensitive skin.
Treat Acne and Other Skin Conditions
As an astringent, witch hazel helps to tighten pores which can help prevent acne. This makes sense, since witch hazel has long been used to help fight infections, cure poison ivy, and reduce inflammation.
The Side Effects to Using Witch Hazel
Just because something is all natural doesn’t mean that it there aren’t any consequences to using it. However, in witch hazel’s case, risks of using it are relatively low.
Although witch hazel is often used to reduce inflammation, it can actually cause inflammation if you rub it into your skin too often. In addition, some people might naturally be allergic or become allergic to witch hazel. Most doctors recommend you do not take witch hazel by mouth; rather, use it as a topical remedy only.
There’s only the slimmest chance of any of these side effects happening to you, but be aware that they can occur.
How to Use Witch Hazel
Depending on what you are wanting to treat with witch hazel will depend on how you use it. For those who want to try witch hazel as an acne or sunburn solution, it’s best to spot treat your acne by dabbing it directly onto the affected area. Spot treating can help ensure you do not further irritate your skin by rubbing large areas.
You can also add witch hazel to a spray bottle to use as a deodorant or bug spray. You can then spray the solution directly on your skin.
For post-partum treatments, you can apply witch hazel to sanitary pads and apply directly to swollen areas. Many moms recommend freezing the pads before using them, as the coolness of the pads can add extra relief.
Where to Buy Witch Hazel
You’re in luck! Witch hazel can be found at pretty much any major grocery store, wellness stores, mass merchandise store, or pharmacies. It’s usually, but not always, found in the first aid aisle, alongside rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. It’s also relatively inexpensive, too, about $3 for a 16 oz. bottle.
If you can’t find witch hazel in any of your local stores, you can order online from retailers like Amazon, or sites that specialize in all natural solutions.
What Makes Witch Hazel Better Than the Alternatives
Granted, there are lots of solutions out there that offer the same solutions for the above benefits of witch hazel. So why wouldn’t you buy Desitin for your baby’s diaper rash or Proactiv to treat your acne?
Keep in mind that most of those solutions don’t offer the all-natural benefits that witch hazel does.
Witch hazel helps you eliminate your exposure and intake to potentially harmful chemicals, ones you may not even realize you’re exposed to. In addition, given witch hazel’s all-around versatility and inexpensive price tag, you can save yourself some space and money by stocking one product to take care of a multitude of tasks.
But the only way to know for sure it to try it for yourself.