Is Witch Hazel Effective for Acne and How Should It Be Used?

Witch hazel has been used for a long time because it can reduce inflammation and tighten skin. Some people use the plant to treat acne as well.
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witch hazel use for acne treatment
Witch hazel is a natural ingredient that can reduce oil, bacteria, and irritation. This makes it great for oily, acne-prone skin.

What Is Witch Hazel?

The witch hazel plant is a flowering shrub with the scientific name Hamamelis virginiana. It grows mostly in North America and Asia. Its bark, branches, and leaves are turned into a clear liquid that can be sold by itself or added to other things.

Witch hazel is native to North America. Native Americans used it to treat everything from sore muscles and dysentery to bug bites and rashes. Today, it is widely advertised as a possible way to treat acne.

The most recent studies show that witch hazel can be used to treat acne. This is because it helps with three of the main causes of acne: oily skin, an overgrowth of bacteria that can cause acne, and inflammation.


The ability of witch hazel to get rid of extra oil

Witch hazel is an astringent and an antiseptic, which means that it can tighten skin cells to make pores smaller and remove oil from pores.

But make sure to check that list of ingredients twice. Some astringents have alcohol in them, which makes them things you should never use.

Even if your skin is oily, alcohol can dry it out too much. This can cause irritation, which can lead to inflammation. Since inflammation is one of the main reasons people get acne, it’s best to stay away from it as much as possible. If you want to try witch hazel, you should use it in a toner for acne or astringent that does not contain alcohol. Our Clearing Tonic is a product that is safe to use and has witch hazel in it.

Witch Hazel can reduce bacteria on your skin

There is some evidence that witch hazel can kill bacteria on the skin, but it doesn’t seem to work very well. When compared to benzoyl peroxide or even natural ingredients like tea tree oil, this is especially true.

If you mostly have pimples or cysts, you can use witch hazel on the pimples, but as we said above, you should also use an acne treatment with other ingredients that work well together to fight P. acnes. For instance, the Exposed Body Wash fights acne with witch hazel, salicylic acid, and pro-vitamin B5.

Witch Hazel is an anti-inflammatory agent

There are many different ideas about how witch hazel can help with acne inflammation. One is that its astringent properties stop inflammation-related blood flow that is too high.

But it’s also possible that these same properties could dry out and irritate the skin, which would make the inflammation worse. If your skin care routine also includes a moisturizer, like the Exposed Expanded Kit does, using witch hazel to treat acne might work better.

Some people think that witch hazel might be a pain reliever because it has antioxidant properties. In an interview with Prevention: Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said in an interview with Prevention:

“Witch hazel has chemicals in it called tannins that fight acne by being both an antioxidant and an astringent.”

An antioxidant is a good ingredient for skin care because it fights molecules called free radicals and makes your immune system stronger.

Some free radicals are normal, and they help the oxidation process go faster, which can help fight pathogens and infections. But when free radicals and antioxidants are out of balance, oxidative stress can happen, which is bad for the body. This often causes inflammation all over the body, which could make acne worse.

Because of all of these things, witch hazel is a good way to treat skin inflammation.

Does witch hazel really help acne?

In its pure form, witch hazel has properties that can help clear up acne. It is a natural astringent that helps dry up the extra oil (sebum) on the skin, which is a common trait of skin that gets acne.

Studies have shown that witch hazel can help ease mild to moderate acne symptoms by reducing inflammation.

With these anti-inflammatory properties, the signs and symptoms of inflammatory acne may get better. Because it is astringent, it could help with noninflammatory acne by drying up whiteheads and blackheads, which are blemishes that often show up with this type of acne.

Tannins in witch hazel help to close up pores and reduce the amount of oil on the skin. Two in particular, hamamelitannin and gallic acid, target inflammation to help soothe and calm skin that is irritated and inflamed from breakouts.

Another topical treatment, witch hazel toners, is good for the skin in many ways and can help ease acne in the following ways:

  • Getting rid of the inflammation caused by acne breakouts. 
  • Acne spots will dry out and the skin will tighten. 
  • To clear pores, you need to remove dirt, makeup, and oil from the skin’s surface. 
  • Red, irritated skin can be soothed.

Still, there have been reports of bad side effects, mostly based on anecdotal evidence and sometimes contradictory.

Some people say that witch hazel is a good way to treat dry skin, while others say that it makes their redness, irritation, and tightness worse.

When you have dry skin, your body may respond by making too much oil, which can clog your pores and make acne worse. Since everyone’s skin is different, it’s best to try witch hazel for a short time to see how it affects your skin and keep an eye on your acne.

How to Treat Acne with Witch Hazel

You can use pure witch hazel, which you can get at the pharmacy, or a toner that has witch hazel in it, to treat acne.

Toners with witch hazel for acne

The inflammation that comes with acne can be treated with witch hazel toner. Toners that are drying and have a lot of tannins can help people whose skin is oily and prone to acne the most.

It’s easy to use witch hazel toner every day as part of your skin care routine.

  1. Use a gentle face wash and warm water to clean your face. 
  2. Put a small amount of witch hazel toner on a cotton ball or pad. 
  3. Start in the middle of your face and move outwards and upwards with the cotton ball. 
  4. Use your favorite moisturizer. 
  5. Don’t change how you take care of your skin.

Who Can Use It?

People with oily or acne-prone skin should use witch hazel. Its astringent and pore-tightening properties help fight acne’s inflammation and oil overproduction. It can also help clear out pores that are clogged, which is a major cause of acne.

It works for both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne, but it works best for inflammatory acne because it takes care of the inflammation that cysts and pustules cause.

If your skin is dry or sensitive, you should avoid witch hazel because it can dry it out even more.

If you use it too often, it can also make oily skin too dry. Use it in moderation.

Witch Hazel Side Effects

Witch hazel is thought to be safe, but some people may have an allergic reaction to it. Always test a new product in a small area before you use it all over.

If you have skin irritation, you may be putting on too much witch hazel. If your skin gets red or irritated, use it less or stop using it.

Witch hazel toners that have alcohol in them could dry out skin that is already dry or is already sensitive. If you don’t want to hurt your sensitive skin, choose a toner that doesn’t contain alcohol.

Can witch hazel make acne worse?

It can, yes. If your skin is too dry, your sebaceous glands may produce more oil to make up for it, which can cause blemishes to show up more often. Acne can also get worse if witch hazel is too harsh for your skin and irritates it even more.

In Conclusion

Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can help people with mild to moderate acne. It also helps reduce inflammation. Most people think it is safe, but some formulas with alcohol could irritate or dry out the skin.

Witch hazel can be used on its own, or it can be found in toners and other skin care products. Even though it can’t cure acne on its own, it can help relieve symptoms like inflammation, redness, and irritation. It can also dry up oil and make spots smaller.

It’s easy to use witch hazel as part of your skin care routine. Side effects are unlikely, but if you start to feel more irritated or see signs of an allergic reaction, stop using it and see a dermatologist.

If witch hazel doesn’t work for your skin, there are other natural options like aloe vera, AHAs, BHAs, benzoyl peroxide, vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc.


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