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7 Benefits and Uses of Witch Hazel

Witch-hazel, or Hamamelis virginiana, is a flowering shrub native to North America. It is known for its colorful fall foliage display and its flowers, which sometimes remain on the shrub until December. Primarily known for its astringent qualities, witch hazel is often used to treat skin irritation and inflammation. Leaves, bark, and stems are all used to prepare treatments.

Commercially available witch hazel uses a steam distillation process to extract the astringent liquid, but you can easily create witch hazel extract by brewing a decoction at home using bark and leaves.

Witch-hazel extract

Grate one teaspoon of bark or dried leaves for each cup of boiling water. Pour boiling water over the bark or leaves. Let steep for 5-10 minutes—strain and cool. Apply externally to affected areas. Witch-hazel can be toxic, so do not consume it internally.

  • 4 ounces Hamamelis virginiana bark or leaves
  • Water
  • 3 1/2 ounces of vodka or grain alcohol

In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, add Hamamelis Virginiana bark or leaves, and water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely, covered. Filter the witch hazel water. For every cup of witch hazel water, add 3 1/2 ounces of vodka or grain alcohol. Use within 2 to 3 months.

Itchy scalp

Witch-hazel works well at alleviating an itchy scalp associated with oily hair. Naturally astringent, witch hazel extract can help cleanse oils that build upon the scalp causing itchiness. There are several ways you can add witch-hazel to your hair care regiment. 

Apply the witch-hazel extract to a clean, absorbent cotton pad. Use the pad to wipe your scalp and leave for ten minutes before rinsing. You can also dilute your witch-hazel extract with water and use it to rinse your hair. This rinse will help relieve oily hair and well as scalp itchiness. The witch-hazel will remove oils and calm the irritated areas. 


Witch-Hazel is a traditional remedy for the treatment of the pain and irritation associated with hemorrhoids. Nowadays, it can commonly be found as an ingredient in commercial hemorrhoid treatments.  Apply witch-hazel extract topically to calm hemorrhoids.

You can use a cotton cosmetic pad soaked in the extract to wipe the irritated area or wash directly with the liquid.

It is particularly beneficial to aid healing in postpartum women.


The itchiness associated with many rashes can make you want to crawl out of your skin. When searching for a natural remedy, witch-hazel comes in high on the list.

The anti-inflammatory properties calm the irritated skin and help alleviate redness and swelling. It will also relieve the itching sensation. Apply a compress soaked in witch-hazel extract to the affected skin. 

Insect bites

The soothing properties of witch-hazel make an excellent choice for treatment for annoying insect bites.

Before reaching for anti-itch cream, try this easy remedy. Use a clean cotton cloth or pad to apply cool witch hazel extract to the bite. It will help reduce any redness, swelling, or itching and accelerate healing time. 

Puffy eyes

Puffy eyes can come as a consequence of crying or allergies. Whatever the cause, witch-hazel can help. The astringent properties help reduce the appearance of red and puffy eyes.

Soak a cotton pad in witch-hazel extract and apply to closed eyes. Leave it there for 5-10 minutes. Take care to watch out for excessive dryness on the tender skin around your eyes.

Cold sores

Unsightly and painful, there is nothing worse than the unexpected appearance of a cold sore. Witch-hazel is an excellent, readily available cold sore treatment. The astringent properties help dry out the sores but can cause a stinging sensation when applied. Simply soak a cotton ball in a little witch-hazel extract and dab on the sore.

You should find it will begin to dry out more quickly than it would on its own. There is also evidence to suggest that witch-hazel has anti-viral qualities that can help prevent then spread of the virus.

Insect Repellent 

One of my favorite uses for witch-hazel is as a base for natural insect repellents. Simply add a combination of insect repelling essential oils to the witch-hazel extract and store it in a spray bottle. Shake vigorously to disperse the oils into the liquid before use. Reapply about once an hour for maximum benefit, but it works great for the mosquito hour.

Follow the recipe below, or feel free to experiment with different combinations of essential oils until you find one that works best for you. This blend is based on 100 drops of essential oils. Always use smaller quantities of any essential oils that can cause skin irritation. 

  • 25 Drops of Eucalyptus oil
  • 25 Drops of Citronella oil
  • 20 Drops of Lemon Grass 
  • 20 Drops of Lavender oil
  • 5 Drops of Peppermint oil
  • 5 Drops of Cedar oil
  • 8 ounces of witch-hazel

This recipe is also effective when sprayed on clothing and gear rather than directly on the skin. It is always best to store essential oil blends in a cool dark place to ensure the longest shelf life. 

There are way more uses for Witch-Hazel. What are you using it for? 

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Thank you so much for your tips and help.

Hi Mary,

Thank you for your kind words.
We really appreciate it.

God bless!

How do witch Hazel get its name

Hi Randy,

Thank you for your comment.
The name Witch has its origins in Middle English “wiche”, from the Old English “wice”, meaning “pliant” or “bendable”. Hazel is derived from the use of the twigs as divining rods, just as hazel twigs were used in England.

God bless!

Yours is the only email to which I look forward! And ditto to what Mary H. said.

Hi Joan,

Thank you so much for your feedback.
We are glad to hear that you are looking forward to receive our emails.

God bless!

Rachael, that is an amazing article, thank you!

Hi Helen,

Thank you so much for your comment.
We are glad you liked the article.

God bless!

So fascinating! What is the shelf life for the WH extract? Is it the same 2-3 months as the alcohol formula, or longer shelf life?

I was trying to order the garden seeds but it is not allowing me to select Canada.

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