Does Witch Hazel Help Acne? - How It Can Save Your Skin (And More!)

In everyone that loves to keep their skin healthy is a curiosity for new ways to keep it glowing, beautiful, and acne-free.

There are hundreds of so-called “miracle products” for your skin on the market. Some are synthetic. Others are totally natural, and they work on your skin the way nature created them to.

Witch hazel is one of the trendiest products that is said to help clear skin naturally. But like every miracle product, it can be hard to know if it really works.

But today, we have good news for every skin care guru. Witch hazel can help soothe your skin for a clearer, healthier complexion.

To understand how, we need to understand how witch hazel works on your face!

What Is Witch Hazel?

Witch hazel has a name that sounds like it’s coming straight out of a fairytale, but it’s very firmly rooted on the ground.

Witch hazel is a plant. The leaves and bark are harvested to create the liquid form of witch hazel that is most commonly found in the beauty aisle at the drugstore.

Traditionally, witch hazel was found to contain substances that helped reduce bleeding, inflammation, and tissue damage when injuries occurred. Since then, a number of other uses have been found for this versatile product. Some people even eat it to treat stomach problems.

The witch hazel that is used to treat damaged skin and acne is an astringent. It’s usually clear in color and is applied to the skin to treat acne, insect bites, inflammation, bruises, and more.

What Exactly Does Witch Hazel Do For The Skin?

Witch hazel supposedly helps clear skin and keep it healthy, but how exactly does it do that?

Witch hazel is primarily an antioxidant and astringent. This means it kills bacteria on the skin and prevents damaging substances from causing problems with your skin. Let’s go through how this saves your skin!

Balances pH levels

A healthy pH level keeps good and bad bacteria balanced so that your skin stays smooth and clear. Often, this balance is not maintained properly due to hormones, diet, or hereditary issues.

When your skin’s pH is too high (basic), bacteria thrives. Witch hazel has a natural pH level that is lower (acidic). Using witch hazel instead of water to cleanse your face actually helps bring the pH of your skin back down. This helps prevent bacteria from clogging your pores, causing inflammation, or leading to acne!

Soothes Inflammation

Everyone who suffers from chronic acne knows that one of the biggest problems with the acne is not the actual pimple, but the redness and the sensitive skin that accompanies it.

Witch hazel soothes inflammation and allows your skin to heal. In fact, using a natural antioxidant like witch hazel can speed up the time it takes your skin to heal.

Removes Excess Oils

Oils naturally produced by your body are healthy, but sometimes, your body creates too much due to hormonal, environmental, or diet-related changes.

Witch hazel extract is high in tannins. Tannins are the reason we can call witch hazel an astringent. Astringents remove oil from the skin, and that’s exactly what tannins do!

Witch hazel helps to remove all excess oil from the surface of your skin, leading to a healthier complexion.

How To Use Witch Hazel To Treat Acne

Now, let’s get into the good stuff: how to use this wonderful product to soothe your acne and save your skin.

There are a few different ways to incorporate witch hazel into your skin care regime. Mix and match these methods to match your needs, and you’ll find your skin may clear up in no time.

You can follow these methods with a store-bought witch hazel astringent/toner, or with pure witch hazel extract that is diluted with another oil or water. 

Also read our review of the best witch hazel toner.

1. Post-Water

A lot of skin irritation can be caused by the pH level of your water. After showering or rinsing your face, use a cotton pad to wipe your face with a witch hazel astringent. This will help keep your face from harboring acne-causing bacteria.

2. Post-Cleansing

After using your makeup removers or cleansers, swipe your face with a bit of witch hazel. This will help remove any leftover residue while restoring the pH balance of your skin.

While you might feel like you’re drying out your skin, this step can actually help lock in moisture because the witch hazel actually helps to lock in some moisture as it restores the balance of your skin.

3. Spot Treatment

Another great way to use witch hazel to treat acne is for spot treatment. Do you have big, angry acne spots that are sore to the touch? These are the best kind of spots to try witch hazel on.

Take a cotton pad, cut it to the right size to suit your acne spots, then soak them with sufficient witch hazel toner and make them stay on the spots for 10 minutes. The witch hazel will soothe the inflammation and soreness. While the acne isn’t going to magically disappear, it will hurt less, which will lead to you touching it less, which will lead to your acne clearing up faster!

4. Throughout The Day

When you get that 3-o’clock, slimy, oily feeling, wipe your skin down gently with some witch hazel. This will pull away the grime and help your skin feel fresh again while getting rid of acne-causing bacteria. Getting excess oil and bacteria off your skin throughout the day is a great way to prevent acne.

5. On Blackheads

While there isn’t much evidence to prove this, some people who suffer from blackheads have noticed that regular use of witch hazel has loosened up blackheads and help them clear up. The causes of blackheads are complex, however, so this might not work for everyone.

Does Witch Hazel Have Any Side Effects?

As with any product, it is possible to be allergic to witch hazel. Always test a small area of your face and wait for any signs of a reaction before adding a new product to your skin care.

Some people have found witch hazel to be too drying for their skin since it takes away excess oils. This can be a problem for acne victims with dry skin when using any toner or astringent. If you face this problem, try using it only once per day, and make sure to moisturize twice a day.

You also might find witch hazel to be drying if you get a store-bought witch hazel astringent that has alcohol in it. Make sure to buy an alcohol-free astringent that was not distilled in alcohol.

Other Ways That Witch Hazel Protects The Skin

Witch hazel does more than just protect the skin from inflammation and acne. There’s a number of common skin problems that we worry about that witch hazel can prevent.

Against Sunburn

Witch hazel extracts contain antioxidant compounds that may protect against sunburn and aging from the sun.

Against Cancer

Witch hazel contains a substance called gallate esters which can help stop cells from mutating into cancerous cells and can help cancerous cells from spreading. While witch hazel isn’t the cure for cancer, it may help prevent your skin from developing cancerous cells.

Against Aging

In addition to the other great substances that can be found in witch hazel, it’s also high in polyphenols. This help prevent skin from being affected by UV light, pollution, a bad diet, and more that can cause the skin to worsen and age over time.

7 More Great At-Home Uses For Witch Hazel

There are so many ways to use witch hazel that you could write an entire book about it. Here are just a few of our favorites:

The uses don’t stop there. There are actually many ways that you can use witch hazel orally to treat things like stomach pains, diarrhea, and more, but these are riskier because straight witch hazel can be dangerous when ingested in large portions.

No matter how you use witch hazel, you’ll be sure to be impressed.


There’s so much to love about witch hazel that we couldn’t even include all of it here! It will help soothe your skin and acne problems in addition to protecting your skin from future damage, so what’s not to love about it?

If you find you love witch hazel, try boosting its benefits! You can buy witch hazel toners that also have cucumber, rose water, or another add-in that can help soothe your skin even more than straight witch hazel toner. There are tons of options out there, so explore them all!

One final tip: you might discover that you had the smell of witch hazel. It’s okay. You’re not the only one. Try buying a witch hazel mixed with rose water; the smell is much more subtle, and you’ll find it easier to use.

Now, get out there and save your skin with witch hazel!


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