Fact Checked

What is Natural Witch Hazel?

Meagan Michi
Meagan Michi

Natural witch hazel is a cosmetic and medicinal product made from of a blend of ingredients, including extract from the witch hazel, or Hamamelis Virginiana, shrub. In most cases, the extract and other ingredients are combined to make an astringent that can be used for many different purposes. An astringent, including natural witch hazel, is a product that is applied topically with the purpose of shrinking skin, or otherwise causing it to contract. Most notably, witch hazel toner is used to help combat acne, but it has a myriad of other uses, including soothing and healing skin, treating sunburn and tightening pores.

The witch hazel plant is also known as winter-bloom or spotted hazel and is indigenous to wooded areas in the United States, most notably Connecticut. The plant is so-named because it resembles a hazel and has branches that are pliable; in Old English, the word for pliable was wych. The bark and the leaves of the plant are used to make an aromatic and therapeutic extract that, when combined with alcohol and other ingredients, is an astringent for use on the skin. Some formulations may also include aloe vera, while others may use alternative ingredients in place of alcohol, which can be drying.

Natural witch hazel.
Natural witch hazel.

As natural beauty products continue to increase in popularity, many people are turning to natural witch hazel as a product that serves a variety of purposes. People of all ages use witch hazel for skin care because it helps to cleanse the skin, tighten pores and remove excess oil, and it is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin. It is also used for the treatment of hemorrhoids in the form of witch hazel pads and can be used to soothe bruising and reduce swelling. Additionally, natural witch hazel helps to reduce redness and irritation caused by diaper rash, sunburn and poison ivy.

Witch hazel is often incorporated into many natural skin care products.
Witch hazel is often incorporated into many natural skin care products.

In 1848, natural witch hazel was first marketed as an herbal product by Theron T. Pond; eventually, the product came to be known as Pond's Extract. Prior to this, Native American Indians distilled which hazel by boiling the plant parts. They used it mainly as an herbal remedy for bug bites, sore muscles and to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses. The product became well-known and widely used in the United States — so much so that most people can recognize natural witch hazel as a product that their grandmothers used when they were children.

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Discussion Comments


I know that hemorrhoids ointments are also anti-inflammatory so I see how natural witch hazel would help with it.

But wouldn't it also be too drying? That part of skin is very thin and sensitive so I think it might be irritating to use witch hazel.

Should I mix witch hazel and aloe vera gel as an ointment and apply it that way?

Has anyone tried using witch hazel for treating hemorrhoids topically? Did it work?


Witch hazel is also great for bug bites and razor burn. When we get bug bites or mosquito bites in the summer, I'll apply some witch hazel on it and it takes the itch and pain away.

It also helps with razor burn. I shave everyday and my skin is pretty sensitive. The razor irritates my hair follicles and I get a bunch of tiny red bumps on my face. They get really itchy while the hair is growing out. I put some witch hazel on after shaving and it seems to help a lot. It must have to do with the anti-inflammatory effects of it. My wife also learned about it from me and uses it whenever she shaves her legs and underarms.

But how do I know if the witch hazel I'm using is natural or not? Aren't they all natural since witch hazel is made from the witch hazel tree?


My daughter would get rashes and pimples a lot when she was a baby. She always got rashes from diapers and she would also have little red pimples appear in places where her skin would fold over like her neck. I think these areas would sweat and cause the pimples.

Natural witch hazel astringent did wonders for these issues. It would take away the irritation and itch and I could tell it soothed her skin because she would stop being fussy when I applied it.

I'm getting ready to have another baby and I already told my husband to put witch hazel on the shopping list as I'm sure it'll come in handy again.

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    • Natural witch hazel.
      By: dianamower
      Natural witch hazel.
    • Witch hazel is often incorporated into many natural skin care products.
      By: picsfive
      Witch hazel is often incorporated into many natural skin care products.
    • Witch hazel may be used to treat skin irritations.
      By: badmanproduction
      Witch hazel may be used to treat skin irritations.
    • Witch hazel pads may be used to reduce swelling.
      By: Robert Lehmann
      Witch hazel pads may be used to reduce swelling.