After receiving this request from Thrift Deluxe in a recent comment on one of my posts, I thought I'd just do a quick blog post to highlight some of the things you can do with distilled witch hazel, which is a very inexpensive and relatively natural beauty/health aid.
Disclaimer: I am not a health, skin or beauty expert and cannot guarantee that everyone will be able to use this product without any side effects, as some people may experience an allergic reaction. Please always seek medical advice if you are not sure about using this product in any of the ways suggested in this post or if you suffer any symptoms of allergic reaction. Most of this information has been taken from this and other articles I have found online.
1) Inexpensive facial toner - I don't know when or how I first became familiar with distilled witch hazel, but I've been using it as a skin toner since I was a teenager. It is well known as an astringent, and not everybody likes the feel of this product on their skin. I don't know if I'm a bit strange, but I really liked the smell of it and the tightening sensation that I felt when I applied it to my face after washing it with various facial cleansers or soap. It also seemed to clean any extra dirt out of pores that a facial wash didn't and I always found it satisfying to see that more dirt was being removed from my skin with it's application using a cotton wool pad. This might not appeal to everyone, but it did to me.
For many of the thirty plus years I've used it, I've not bothered to moisturise my skin. I always found moisturisers made it feel too oily, however, I have now conceded with age and do moisturise and use an eye cream after applying witch hazel, but I don't think I could ever stop using this as a toner, as it is a habit too ingrained in my psyche.
2) An ingredient in natural deodorants - I have also personally used distilled witch hazel as an ingredient in a homemade spray on/roll on (depending how you want to use it) deodorant. (Please note there is a recipe in the above mentioned article) I used it for a while, but I have to admit to preferring a coconut oil based home made deodorant when I use one, as it just seems to perform better and have more longevity on a daily basis.
The above are the main two ways I have and continue to use distilled witch hazel, but I have more recently become aware of other benefits it supposedly has when applied topically on unbroken skin.
3) Reducing inflammation on external hemorrhoids - I found this out when a lady I work with at the CS told me she has this problem, so I looked up natural remedies for her on the internet and witch hazel was one of the suggested treatments. She hasn't, however, subsequently tried it, as she is too scared to, so I can't actually vouch for it's efficacy and it is probably a good idea to consult your GP or a naturopath before trying this one.
4) Reducing eye bags/Refreshing tired eyes - Although I've always felt a tightening sensation when using this product, I didn't actually know that it was supposed to be good at reducing eye bags. In addition, using a solution of distilled witch hazel and cold water on a cloth and placing it over your closed eyes can also have the effect of refreshing tired eyes. Please note: DO NOT put distilled witch hazel IN your eyes or use whilst eyes are open.
5) Relieving sunburn - Distilled witch hazel is also supposed to be good for relieving sunburn. I haven't tried it for this purpose and would probably combine it with aloe vera gel if I did, as this is my go to for treating sunburn lately. N.B. Obviously, this would not be a good idea for very severe sunburn or blisters caused by sunburn, for which medical attention should always be sought.
6) Quick healing of bruises/strains - Again, I haven't tried this, but it is suggested that by soaking bandages in distilled witch hazel before bandaging sprains and bruising, it can help reduce inflammation and heal bruising more quickly.
7) Insect bites and generalised itchiness - Distilled witch hazel has anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties and can also be used for this purpose when dabbed onto a bite using cotton wool. It has also been used to treat psoriasis, but I don't know what research is available about its success in this regard and it is probably worth seeking the advice of a doctor before using it for this purpose.
8) Spot or blemish control - I guess this is probably why I first started using it in my teens. I can't say it made blemishes instantly disappear, but it is very soothing (after the initial sting) and probably helps to prevent infection and reduce inflammation of the skin.
9) Varicose vein relief - Not personally tested by me, but DW's inflammatory properties are supposed to temporarily reduce varicose vein inflammation. Again, a doctor's opinion might be best sought before using on this type of condition.
10) Minor cuts and abrasions - Distilled witch hazel applied to minor cuts and abrasions is thought to cleanse the wound, help prevent infection and encourage faster healing.
So, bearing in mind it's potential uses, it's a handy and very inexpensive product to have around the home. It is available at most pharmacists, but I always now buy it at Home Bargains where it costs just £1.49 for a 200ml bottle. I'm an avid fan and might try to use it for more of the above purposes in future, now that I'm aware of them.