Nature’s Remedies: Witch Hazel

Have you ever thought rubbing alcohol and witch hazel were pretty much the same?  Me too, at least until recently.  They both have a funny alcohol smell, both are clear, and usually they sit close to one another in the same section of the grocery store.  I had convinced myself that rubbing alcohol must be the generic form of witch hazel.  How in the world did I ever make that leap?  One is chemical based and one is organic.  It is like comparing poison to medicine.  Wow!  If only I had known the wonderful benefits of this magical, medicinal elixir earlier.  It is now one of my favorite “go to”  products!

The Oily Guru

flowers for oils

Rubbing Alcohol vs Witch Hazel;

Common Witch Hazel Uses You Didn’t Know About

Rubbing Alcohol vs Witch Hazel
In short- rubbing alcohol is very extremely hazardous to humans and bacteria, and is chemical based.
Witch Hazel is organic and is used for acne cream-cuts-shaving cream etc.

Rubbing = Isopropyl alcohol- Isopropyl alcohol (also 2-propanol, rubbing alcohol, or the abbreviation IPA) is a common name isopropyl. Isopropyl alcohol is a colorless, flammable chemical compound with a strong odor. It has the molecular formula C3H8O and is the simplest example of a secondary alcohol, where the alcohol carbon is attached to two other carbons. Isopropyl alcohol is extremely hazardous to humans; it is not intended for human consumption, or any other forms of internal usage!

Witch Hazel- Witch-hazel (Hamamelis) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, with two species in North America (H. virginiana and H. vernalis), and one each in Japan (H. japonica) and China (H. mollis).
They are deciduous shrubs or (rarely) small trees growing to 3-8 m tall, rarely to 12 m tall. The leaves are alternately arranged, oval, 4-16 cm long and 3-11 cm wide, with a smooth or wavy edge. The flowers are sometimes produced on the leafless stems in winter, thus one alternative name for the plant, “Winterbloom”.
Each flower has four slender strap-shaped petals 1-2 cm long, pale to dark yellow, orange, or red. The fruit is a two-part pod 1 cm long, containing a single 5 mm glossy black seed in each of the two parts; the capsule splits explosively at maturity in the autumn about 8 months after flowering, ejecting the seeds with sufficient force to fly for distances of up to 10 m, thus another alternative name “Snapping Hazel”. Hamamelis species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Feathered Thorn.
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. The Persian Ironwood, a closely related tree formerly treated as Hamamelis persica, is now given a genus of its own, as Parrotia persica, as it differs in the flowers not having petals. Other closely allied genera are Parrotiopsis, Fothergill and Sycopsis (see under Hamamelidaceae).
Witch-hazels are not closely related to the hazels. for short- rubbing alcohol is very extremely hazardous to humans and bacteria, and is chemical based.

Many Uses For Witch Hazel

Spot Blemish and Blemish Control
Witch hazel has the unique ability to clean skin pores and dry up excessive oil without leaving skin too dry. For healthy, normal skin, witch hazel can often replace a daily cleanser. For oily or acne prone skin, swabbing witch hazel throughout the day is a great way to quickly wipe off excessive oil without the hassle of a full face wash.
The tannin content in witch hazel has strong astringent as well as antioxidant properties. These astringent properties are cleansing to the skin, while minimizing the size of skin pores. Unlike many harsh commercial acne formulations, it is gentle and non-drying when used to tone and cleanse acne-infected or acne-prone skin. Plain witch hazel may be applied to the skin straight from the bottle using cotton balls. It should be applied to the acne-infected skin twice a day. It should never be applied more than three times a day.
Scars & Stretch Marks
Witch hazel is often used by pregnant women to prevent stretch marks, but it can be used to help loose or excessive skin around scars or stretch marks to tighten, helping to minimize the scar.
Soothe and Heal Diaper Rash
If your baby’s rash isn’t healing quick enough, apply witch hazel solution (Dickinson’s is good) with a cotton ball and you should see immediate improvement to your baby’s bottom.
Shrink Bags Under The Eyes
Some people say that the application of hemorrhoidal cream to those little baggies under your eyes can take them away. It’s not an old wives’ tale. One of the magic ingredients in a product like Preparation H is witch hazel, which helps tighten up the skin and reduce the bagginess.
Refresh Tired Eyes
If your eyes are puffy from crying or lack of sleep (or both), then soak two small cotton pads with witch hazel and put them over your eyes. After 10 minutes, your eyes should be refreshed, and any redness should be gone. Witch hazel is famous for shrinking blood vessels (which is why it’s one of the main ingredients in Preparation H cream).
 Varicose Vein Relief
Soak wash cloths in witch hazel and lay on legs, which are propped straight out, to reduce pain and swelling from varicose veins. The witch hazel helps to tighten the veins, relieving the discomfort temporarily.
Use to heal and soothe various cuts and bruises
Many chemists and pharmacists refer to witch hazel as nature’s answer to Neosporin. Witch hazel can be a substitute for hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol when it comes to cleaning out a cut. Pour a liberal amount of witch hazel over the cut or sore and allow it to dry. Add a bandage and you’re set. You can also use witch hazel on bruises or skin that is blistered or cracked.
Soothe Razor Burn (an in some instances prevent it!)
The anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel stop itchy bumps from forming up around your irritated hair follicles. Apply before or after shaving; it should certainly have an impact on your itchy red skin (and that includes ladies, too).
Treat and Soothe a Nasty Sunburn
Healing damaged skin is one of witch hazel’s specialties. But as sunburn is also a type of skin inflammation, witch hazel is ideal for treating this too (despite swelling not being obvious). Treating sunburn with witch hazel will lessen healing time and prevent the infamous skin peeling and flaking. Apply with a wash cloth soaked in witch hazel, allowing it to soak into your skin for several minutes before removing.
Treat Dry Skin
This is so timely for me right now. Lately legs have just been itching like crazy because they are so dry! Apply witch hazel immediately after showering to lock in the moisture that has just soaked into your skin. You can bet I will be trying this!
Make Your Own Deodorant
Witch hazel is often used in deodorants due to its natural skin-healing and skin-care properties. Here is a home-made recipe you may want to try.
1 tsp High Proof Vodka
10 drops Geranium
10 drops Cypress
8 drops Bergamot
5 drops Neroli
4 drops Lavender
3 drops Black pepper
4 tb sp (40 ml) Witch Hazel
2 tbsp (25 ml) Cornflower Water (
2 tbsp (25 ml) Orange Flower Water (
Measure the vodka into a 4 oz (100 ml) glass bottle with a spray attachment

Carefully add the essential oils, one by one.

 Shake vigorously to blend the essential oils.

 Pour the witch hazel into the bottle, using a funnel if necessary, followed by the two flower waters. Shake well.

Label the bottle and your deodorant is now ready to use. Before each use, give the bottle a good shake to ensure the essential oils are fully dispersed.

Sore Gums, Sore Throat, Laryngitis

The antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent activity of Witch Hazel may help shrink and heal inflamed and sore throats, gums and larynx. Witch hazel tea infused with myrrh and cloves can make your sore throat feel better after gargling.

Heal Stop the Growth of Cold Sores

Witch Hazel applied on a cold sore when you feel it coming on will prevent it from becoming a blister. If you already have one, use it right away and often and the blister will heal quicker.

Scalp Deep Cleanse

Use a witch hazel hair-cleansing routine if you suffer from psoriasis, eczema, or dandruff. Massage the scalp with the witch hazel, followed with shampoo and conditioner. It is also an efficient “between-shampoos” method of washing your hair and scalp.


Take the “Bite” out of Bug Bites

With its anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel is ideal for treating bug bites. Apply the witch hazel with a cotton ball, square or swab directly on the bite. It also works to soothe bites from fleas, flies and insect stings.

Soothe Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Just as with acne and blemishes, witch hazel reduces itching and relieves swelling. Something definitely worth packing on your next camping trip.

Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Give your dog’s ears a cleaning by moistening a cotton ball or cloth with witch hazel, and gently wiping the inside of the ears. Don’t use a cotton swab.


 Tick Extraction

Ticks may relish the taste of your family pet, but they hate the taste of witch hazel. Before attempting to remove a tick, douse the tick with a few drops of witch hazel to make it loosen its jaws. Grasp the tick firmly and pull; disinfect the bite area by dabbing the skin with witch hazel once the tick has been successfully removed.

Household Cleaner

Witch hazel can also be combined with lemon juice and baking soda to create an eco-friendly cleaning agent for your bathrooms. You can also use it undiluted on chrome, glass and mirrors. No need to rinse as the alcohol-based cleaner readily evaporates, leaving the chrome sparkling clean and germ-free.  I now have a bottle pre-mixed and ready to go for this purpose.

You can also mix 1/2 cup witch hazel, 1 cup of water and about 15 drops of essential oil such as lavender, grapefruit, eucalyptus or cedarwood, combined in a glass spray bottle as an air freshener or a mattress freshener.  My mattresses smell great and are germ free.  Another solution I have already made up and ready to go.

Witch hazel on a cotton ball works well to remove hair dye stains on skin, too.

Vinyl, linoleum, and tile floors can be kept clean by mopping once a week with a solution of 1/2 cup of witch hazel and 1 gallon of warm water. The natural solvents in witch hazel strip away old wax while the water dissolves dirt and debris. To clean heavily soiled floors, stir 1 tablespoon of borax into the solution prior to mopping.


Jewelry Cleaner

Dab some witch hazel on a cotton ball to gently clean your jewelry or soak your jewelry in a bowl of witch hazel for 20 minutes. Watch debris get washed away. Dry with a soft cloth.


 ***Do not drink the witch hazel you bought in the bottle at the drug store. You can drink witch hazel if you buy the herb dried and steep it into a tea. Witch hazel taken as a tea has been reported to help diarrhea or a sore throat.***

 **As with many herbal remedies, certain people, like women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, should talk to their physician before using witch hazel. When using witch hazel, let your doctor know if you experience leg swelling, breathing problems, chest tightness or pain, hives, new rashes or irritations, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting or constipation. Most people who use witch hazel will not experience these adverse side effects, but some will, so notify a health official if any problems are noticed.**