Witch hazel is a botanical ingredient used in holistic medicine to help treat acne, oily skin, inflammation, open sores, swollen eyes, sunburns, insect bites and even varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
In this article, I'll tell you a few things you need to know about witch hazel and why this ingredient is bad for the skin. I will also provide you with a list of alternatives that will actually help you get rid of acne.
So let's jump right into:
Is witch hazel good for acne?
No, witch hazel is not good for acne and can be even worse for the skin..
Why? Due to its drying and dehydrating effect.
Witch hazel is a plant that grows wild throughout North America and Asia.
He is known by his Latin name Hamamelis Virginiana, and this is the name that will likely be on the ingredient list for skin care products that contain witch hazel.
Witch hazel can be found in anything, cleansers, serums, and moisturizers, but it's most commonly spotted in toner-like liquids.
Witch hazel is usually made by boiling the leaves and bark in water, then distilling the concoction by mixing it with alcohols such as ethanol, which may already be dehydrating enough for the skin.
“Almost all witch hazel products use the skin-damaging type of alcohol to extract the plant and use it in skin care. Up to 15% of this alcohol remains in the product, and research clearly shows that much lower amounts than this can trigger skin cell death and barrier damage»- says Paula Begoun, the woman behind one of my favorite skincare brands - Paula's choice.
Additionally, like many plant-derived components, witch hazel is also a source of several antioxidants, many of which benefit the skin in the short term, however, one of the main antioxidants is a group of chemicals known as name of tannins.
The tannins in witch hazel compress the proteins in your skin, causing it to shrink. They do this by drying or irritating the skin.
That's why astringents are marketed to people with oily skin like me. What tannins do by tightening oily skin is that they dry out the oil. This means no excess sebum = no shine = perfect makeup application.
However, this is all a temporary effect as your skin often turns shiny within hours of doing your skincare routine and applying your makeup.
Plus, drying out your skin is never a good idea in the long run. Which brings me to the main reason witch hazel is bad for acne and the skin in general.
The main reason that witch hazel is bad for acne and the skin, in general, is that its drying effect can help damage the barrier over an extended period of use..
When your skin barrier is damaged, your skin's ability to function optimally is affected and this, in turn, affects its ability to protect you.
On top of that, an unhealthy and damaged skin barrier cannot function as well as a healthy barrier, therefore, it is more likely to be susceptible to irritation and allergic reactions and because it is not healthy. - it lacks the ability to fight inflammation and defend against harmful pathogens that cause inflammation.
When this happens, everything goes to hell and the skin desperately tries to protect itself by producing more and more oil in an effort to lubricate the surface and prevent harmful pathogens from harming it.
This means that ultimately more fat and more pimples will follow the compromised skin.
And that will probably make you rely on witch hazel even more because you'll be desperately trying to dry out your pimples and excess oil when the drying of the skin triggered this problem, to begin with.
Using witch hazel to dry acne and oily skin is like trying to save a house by prepping the roof while its foundation crumbles.
3 alternatives to witch hazel for acne
My favorite ingredients for fighting acne, reducing inflammation and soothing are:
My number one ingredient that is at the heart of the acne battle solution.
Besides being gentle on your skin, it's a great chemical exfoliant that can penetrate deep into the pores and rid them of excess acne-like substances like excess oil and dead skin cells.
This is what clogged skin really needs. The pores need to be cleansed and rid of all the dirt instead of constantly drying your skin and triggering it to produce more and more of these clogging dirt.
RELATED: Guide to using salicylic acid
Benzoyl peroxide treatment can help moderate to severe acne by eliminating the growth of acne-causing bacteria in your pores.
It does this simply by infusing your skin with oxygen, which a bacteria that lives deep in an oxygen-free and clogged pore absolutely hates.
Benzoyl peroxide is a super effective ingredient and can work wonders at a concentration as low as 2.5%.
In fact, it's the best option if your skin is prone to dryness and irritation, as you'll experience the same effects minus the potential irritation associated with using products with higher benzoyl peroxide strength.
RELATED: Benzoyl Peroxide User Guide
Witch hazel for acne faqs
Below I will answer some frequently asked questions regarding the effects of witch hazel:
Can witch hazel heal acne scars?
No, witch hazel does not have the ability to heal acne scars. This ingredient has nothing to offer to improve acne scars in any way.
Witch hazel does not help post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (which are brown spots left by acne).
It doesn't help either post-inflammatory erythema (which are red spots left after acne heals and are more prominent in fair skin).
And finally, that doesn't help either atrophic or depressed acne scars that is patchy, usually with "holes" in areas where acne was typically severe.
Can you use witch hazel for body acne?
Although the skin on the body is generally thicker and more resilient than the skin on the face, it is still not a good idea to use witch hazel for body acne as it can have the same drying effect it can take more time for you to notice it.
Also, go for more acne dependent ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide for body acne, as these ingredients also come in cleansing forms that you can easily use in the shower.
Thanks for stopping by! My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take good care of their skin, and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on the skin care products I have tried. You can find out more about me here.
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We all dream of flawless, glowing skin, but with new products constantly hitting the shelves and the seemingly endless skincare advice out there on the Internet, it’s not always easy to figure out the skincare routine that’s going to work best for you. You know the basics — drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and wash your face, but what about everything in between ? Luckily, there’s no need to shell out tons of cash on any magical procedures or expensive creams to achieve flawless skin.
We spoke with dermatologists and top beauty experts to put together a list of some of the best skincare tips. From choosing the right cleanser for your skin type to the importance of cleaning your makeup brushes, these easy tricks — plus some top-tested product picks from the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab — will help guide you to glowing skin ASAP.
' For oily or acne-prone skin, a salicylic gel or benzoyl peroxide wash works great, ' says Dr. Ava Shamban, a dermatologist in Santa Monica. ' For dry femme mûre skin, use either a moisturizing glycolic or milky cleanser. For skin with brown ateliers or melasma, use a brightening wash, such as an alfa hydroxy acid cleanser. '
' The best times to moisturize are right after you get out of the shower and right before you go to bed, ' explained Dr. Janet Prystowsky M. D., an NYC-based dermatologist. Avoid lotions with heavy fragrances and make sure you find a moisturizer gentle enough for every day use with zero irritation.
Dr. Tzu says figuring out how to avoid touching your face is very important. It doesn’t just spread bacteria and cause breakouts — it can lead to scarring, an increase in wrinkles, and even the flu or other viruses.
Every skin professionnel we spoke to emphasized the importance of hydration. ' A lack of water means less radiance and more sag, ' says Dr. Mona Gohara, a dermatologist in Connecticut. She suggests choosing products ( cleansing, moisturizing, and anti-aging ) that have hydrating formulas. And, bien sûr, drink around eight glasses of water a day.
Don’t just watch out for the sun — getting too close to heaters and fireplaces can also wreak havoc on your skin. ' It causes inflammation and collagen breakdown. I recommend staying at least ten feet away, ' explains Dr. Debbie Palmer, a New York dermatologist. So next time you’re roasting chestnuts or s’mores over an open fire, take a step back.
' We lose 50 million skin cells a day, and without a little extra nudge, they may hang around leaving the skin looking sullen, ' says Dr. Gohara. tera fight this, you should ' choose a product that is pH neutral so it doesn’t dry as it exfoliates. ' And don’t just stop with your face — the skin on your body needs exfoliation, too.
A balanced diet is important, but there’s more than one way to give your skin vitamins. There are also topical antioxidants, which are serums and creams that contain ingredients that nourish the skin ( think vitamin C serum ! ).
' These can really help to repair the skin from sun damage, ' says Dr. Palmer. Not sure how to use them ? The best time to apply them is right after cleansing so that your skin can soak them in, or they can be layered under your sunscreen for added protection.
Though it’s tempting to grab a coffee the minute you wake up, Joanna Vargas, a skincare facialist in NYC, says choosing the right beverages can be a game changer. ' Drink a shot of chlorophyll every morning to brighten, oxygenate, and hydrate your skin. Drinking chlorophyll also helps drain puffiness by stimulating the lymphatic system, so it’s also good for cellulite. '
If you’re not keen on downing a shot of the stuff, chlorophyll supplements can be found at many drugstores and health food stores. She also advised drinking green juices with lots of veggies in them : ' It will transform your skin in a matter of days — and it helps oxygenate the skin and stimulates lymphatic drainage, so it’s de-puffing, too. '
' Your skin has a natural barrier to retain moisture, and essential to that is omega-3 fatty acid, ' Joanna advises. ' Flax seeds on your salad or even walnuts will be an instant boost to your omega-3, thus increasing your skin’s ability to hold onto moisture. ' And be sure to eat a diet low in foods with a high glycemic index ( simple and complex carbohydrates ).
tera fight empoisonnement and clogged pores, Dr. Prystowsky recommends washing concealer and foundation brushes once a week. For brushes you use around your eyes, she recommends twice per month, and for any other brushes, once a month is fine.
Here’s how : Put a drop of a mild shampoo into the palm of your hand. Wet the bristles with lukewarm water. Then, massage the bristles into your palm to distribute the shampoo into the brush. Avoid getting the metal part of the brush wet/or the base of the brush hairs because the glue could soften and the bristles could fall out. Rinse the shampoo out and squeeze out the water with a towel. Lay the brushes on their side with the bristles hanging off the edge of the counter to dry.
' Many people feel they only need to protect themselves on sunny days or when visiting the beach, ' says Dr. Palmer. ' But the truth is that we need to protect our skin even when we’re driving a car, flying in an airplane, or course errands. It’s the daily ultraviolet exposure that contributes to the visible signs of aging. ' What kind of sunscreen is best ? Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater — and remember that it needs to be reapplied every 2 hours.
We’re talking SPF makeup, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats. ' Preventing sun damage is a million times better for your skin than treating it after the fact, ' says Dr. Prystowsky.
' Fad products and fancy ingredients are fun to try, and sometimes they work well, ' says Dr. Prystowsky, ' but usually they’re off the shelves just as quickly as they’re on them. ' Find a cleanser and moisturizer that you know work for you, and keep them at the core of your routine.
It’s not just about getting eight hours a night. Skin will also benefit from regularly using clean silk pillowcases. ' The material glides easily and prevents creasing and wrinkles, ' says Jesleen Ahluwalia, M. D., a dermatologist from Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. ' Silk is also easier on hair — it helps avoid tangles and breakage. ' Better hair and skin while you sleep ? Yes, please.