It sounds like a magic potion, a mystery brew or some strange tonic. You’ve seen it on drugstore shelves, in tall, plain-looking bottles lined up beside all the popular, name-brand skincare products. The price is so low, it’s always a temptation. But what would you do with witch hazel, if you gave in and actually brought some home?
Sometimes simple is best when it comes to caring for skin—and it doesn’t get much simpler than witch hazel. A clear, colorless liquid made from the leaves and bark of a flowering shrub (also called winterbloom or snapping hazel), witch hazel has been a natural remedy for skin issues for ages. It’s rich in plant compounds called tannins, which have natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties–meaning it clears away dirt, soothes swelling and fights fine lines all in one swipe. Here are 6 ways to put this potent potion to good use.
Poof! Goodbye undereye puff
Not getting enough beauty sleep? Try soaking cotton rounds in witch hazel and placing over your eyes for five minutes to minimize puffiness and dark circles.
Razor burn, be gone
Whether you’re shaving, waxing, threading or plucking, hair removal can leave skin red, irritated or even bumpy. Soothe the sting with witch hazel — Thayer’s Lavender Witch Hazel is fortified with aloe vera for extra-soothing effects.
Vanish, varicose veins!
While it won’t rid your legs of puffy, purple veins entirely, witch hazel can provide relief from swelling and aches and pains. Soak a washcloth in witch hazel, prop up your feet and rest the cloth on your leg for 15 minutes.
Make stink disappear
Its natural antiseptic qualities makes witch hazel the perfect addition to homemade deodorant or aromatherapy air fresheners. Simply mix 2 oz. of witch hazel with 1 tablespoon of alcohol,15 drops of sandalwood essential oil and 5 drops each of lavender and cypress essential oils in a spray bottle. Lightly spritz under your arms and let dry before getting dressed. (Tip: You can also use this mix to freshen your feet and shoes, or even spray it throughout a room!)
Mosquito bites, bee stings and poison ivy–oh my! When you’ve got a bad itch, dab the affected area with witch hazel to clean and calm your skin. Keep a container of witch hazel pads in your first aid kit and your car for emergencies.
Do away with dry skin
Wait, it’s antiseptic and astringent, so wouldn’t witch hazel aggravate dry skin? Not when it’s applied right after you shower. Splash on witch hazel when your skin is still damp to lock in moisture and promote smoothness and softness all over. You might also try swapping out your ordinary suds for an extra-gentle witch hazel soap bar.