Wellness·2 min read

Do You Need Witch Hazel In Your Skincare Routine? We Asked a Derm

A woman rubbing a cotton round over her face
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Pexels
August 30, 2022

Witch hazel, aka the bottle that lives permanently in your grandma’s bathroom cabinet, has a lot of skincare benefits. But it’s not an ideal ingredient for every skin type. So before you take advice from SkinTok and add it to your routine, here’s what you need to know about the actual benefits of putting witch hazel on your face, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, CEO of Vibrant Dermatology, a dermatology practice based in Massachusetts.

What is witch hazel?

Witch hazel is derived from a type of plant, said Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip. Which also goes by the official name hamamelis virginiana. The resulting product is a clear liquid you can find in most drugstores. 

What are the benefits of witch hazel for skin?

Witch hazel is anti-inflammatory, calming, and an astringent. Meaning it can cleanse skin, dry out acne breakouts and tighten your skin. Depending on your skin type and skin condition, witch hazel may help with…

  • Skin inflammation or irritation. Because it contains two anti-inflammatory components called gallic acid and tannins. Which can help soothe skin and prevent (or calm) razor bumps, razor burn, hemorrhoids, and sunburns

  • Acne. If you have acne caused by clogged pores and oily skin, witch hazel may help remove excess oils that cause breakouts. It also may prevent acne-causing bacteria from penetrating your skin. Plus, while nothing can permanently shrink your pores, witch hazel is an astringent that can temporarily tighten them.

  • Signs of aging. Witch hazel contains “polyphenols, which provide some anti-aging benefits,” said Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip. 

So should I be using witch hazel in my skincare routine?

It depends on your skin type. It’s best for oily, acne-prone skin, because witch hazel’s astringent properties “may help to dry out blemishes,” said Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip. But if you have skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, consult your dermatologist first. Especially if you have eczema, Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip said, because witch hazel may be too drying or irritating.

How do you use witch hazel for your face?

If you want to incorporate witch hazel into your skincare routine, Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends using witch hazel as a toner up to three times a week. After cleansing, squeeze some witch hazel onto a cotton pad and gently wipe it over your face. Then apply any regular skincare products and/or acne medications, Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip said. And stick to an alcohol-free witch hazel product, because those made with alcohol can dry out the skin.


Witch hazel can help reduce inflammation, tighten pores, and fight acne. But it’s not ideal for everyone (think: dry skin types). If you’re not sure what your skin type is, check with a dermatologist before you add witch hazel to your routine.

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