Acne can be a disfiguring and uncomfortable skin condition that mostly affects the face but can also be seen on the neck, shoulders, and back too. Often it affects young teenagers the most, though many adults experience it into their 40s. Acne is caused by a few types of bacteria, but most commonly propionibacterium acnes. This bacteria naturally live in the skin’s oil pores, but its population can get out of control, causing an immune response that results in red, swollen bumps on the surface. These bumps can quickly turn into white bumps full of pus.
What is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel is a liquid astringent that can be purchased in a plastic bottle. It’s in the form of a transparent liquid and has a faint herbal scent. This astringent contains a compound that is made from the leaves and bark of the witch hazel shrub called Hamamelis virginiana that commonly grows in North America.
Witch hazel contains chemical compounds, such as calcium oxalate, safrole, and eugenol, that give witch hazel extract its healing properties.
Native Americans first used witch hazel for its medicinal properties. They boiled the stems of the shrub to produce an extract. This extract was used to treat swellings and inflammation on the body.
How to Use Witch Hazel for Acne
It’s simple to use witch hazel to heal up your acne. All you need is to purchase pure cotton puffs. It would be best if you still wash your face with soap and water at least twice a day, morning and evening. Use a gentle vegetable-based glycerin soap and a soft cotton cloth.
Open up the bottle of witch hazel, apply a clean cotton puff to the end, and quickly flip upside down. This will distribute some of the liquid to the cotton puff.
Wipe the cotton puff all around your face, avoiding hairline, nostrils, and eyes. Scrub gently. Once you’re done, you’ll feel your face is cleaner and less oily. You may even notice how there is a lot of dark dirt on the cotton puff, mainly if this is your first time using an astringent. If there is a lot, repeat the process. Once you get into the routine, you shouldn’t have so much dirt on your cotton puff.
Use witch hazel each time after you wash your face. You may also wish to pack your witch hazel in your bag and bring it to school or work so that you can freshen up your face at lunchtime. It will also help to control any redness throughout the day, so an application at midday is going to help you to look your best.
How to Make and Use a Witch Hazel Toner to Control Acne
You have the option of buying a bottle of witch hazel and using it directly on your face or to make a special toner with the additional soothing and healing properties of herbs.
Ingredients for Homemade Witch Hazel Toner
You can make a special toner recipe by adding ingredients to the liquid witch hazel. Collect the following parts and suppliers together.
- 1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder. You can buy vitamin C capsules and break them open.
- 1/4 cup witch hazel extract.
- Six drops of lavender essential oil.
- Small dark brown glass bottle with a twist cap.
The vitamin C provides additional healing and astringent properties to the witch hazel. The lavender provides soothing and healing properties. Plus, it makes the toner smell good.
Steps to Make Healing Witch Hazel Toner for Acne
Follow these steps to make your soothing witch hazel toner for acne.
- Measure out your witch hazel toner and pour it into the glass bottle.
- Break open your capsule of vitamin C and measure out the amount needed and pour it into the bottle.
- Pour your six drops of lavender into the bottle.
- Shake the bottle gently.
- The mixture will have a cloudy look to it.
- The goal is to melt the vitamin C and thoroughly mix it with the witch hazel and lavender oil.
- This mixture will last you for about a week. It’s not recommended to make more for a longer length of time, as vitamin C can oxidize and be useless over time.
- Store your witch hazel toner in a dark cupboard, away from heat and light.
You may use your witch hazel toner the same way you would use your extract, every time after you wash your face. You can also keep your bottle and a few cotton puffs in your bag so you can use it at any time of the day.
Witch Hazel Side Effects & Cautions
Even though witch hazel is derived naturally, you should still be aware of any side effects.
- Witch hazel is meant for external use only, so never drink it.
- It doesn’t happen often, but like with any medicine or cosmetics, a small percentage of the population may experience an allergic reaction. You can tell after application if your skin suddenly turns red or becomes inflamed, or you develop hives. Discontinue use.
- If you’re applying your witch hazel treatment and are not noticing any difference after two weeks, or your condition appears to have worsened, this could signal you have a more severe skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis. You should seek the advice of a medical doctor.
- Witch hazel is safe for most people to use externally, but if doubt, such as whether you can use it while pregnant, check with your physician before using it.
Where to Buy Witch Hazel
Many people may think that it could be hard finding witch hazel, but that’s likely because they haven’t been searching for it in the stores. Witch hazel can be found at almost any store that sells first aid kit supplies. Check these locations first.
- Grocery stores and supermarkets.
- Pharmacies and drugstores. Ask the pharmacist if you can’t find it.
- Look in the first aid section, as it’s commonly found near rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.
- If you don’t live near stores or are always busy, shop online stores such as Amazon.
After one week, you should begin to notice the difference when applying witch hazel to your face. It may take up to a month to completely control your acne, but around this time, you’ll see your face clear up and become smoother. It may take a few more months to get acne scarring to heal up and go away.
Even after you have cleared up your acne with your witch hazel, or used up your special witch hazel toner with vitamin C and lavender, you should still regularly treat your skin. Acne bacteria can come back and cause further skin issues. After your acne is under control, use your toner at least once per day. People over age 30 may wish to use it once every three days.