Is Witch Hazel Good for Your Skin? A Dermatologist Weighs In
You may have seen witch hazel in a number of skin-care products, including toners, ointments, face mists and more. We get that it’s a popular ingredient, but is it actually good for your skin? To find out the what the benefits and risk factors are associated with using witch hazel on the skin, we tapped board-certified dermatologists and Skincare.com consultants Joshua Zeichner, MD, and Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, and founder of Dermatology & Laser Group.
What Is Witch Hazel?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the history of witch hazel can be traced back many years. It’s an astringent derived from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel shrub. It’s often used to neutralize the itch on bee stings and bug bites, as well as soothe irritation associated with skin abrasions. Thanks to its astringent properties, you can find witch hazel formulated into a wide range of skin-care products, too. It’s great at tightening pores as drawing out liquids, making it ideal for oily or acne-prone skin types.
The Benefits of Witch Hazel
According to Dr. Akhavan, witch hazel can be a great addition to your skin-care arsenal. “Witch hazel is commonly used in toner preparations,” he says. “I like witch hazel-based toners for acne-prone or oily skin.” Witch hazel is a source of tannin, which contributes to its astringent properties and makes it a hot commodity in over-the-counter beauty products. It can help dry out and reduce inflammation associated with acne or eczema. What’s more, alcohol-free products, like the Thayer’s Witch Hazel Facial Toner, can also be used to cleanse the skin and remove makeup. Just pour some of the liquid onto a cotton pad and lift away debris.
Using Witch Hazel on Sensitive or Dry Skin
Although witch hazel is widely recognized as a well-rounded ingredient, be cautious when it comes to using a pure concentration of it on your face, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. “Witch hazel is an astringent that can strip oil from the skin,” Dr. Zeichner warns. “If your skin is very oily, you may be able to tolerate it. But if you have dry or sensitive skin, I would skip it as it may lead to irritation.” Before using any product, try doing a patch test on your arm and wait at least 24 hours to see how your skin will react. When in doubt, consult your board-certified dermatologist to find out if the product in question is right for your skin.
Image: Chaunte Vaughn