Witch hazel is a flowering plant with clusters of rich yellow to orange-red flowers. The plant has been used by Native Americans for centuries to treat a variety of medical issues. Witch hazel is a natural astringent. The plant is often used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and sunburn.
Unlike many products for seborrheic dermatitis, witch hazel has good research backing it up. Human, lab and animal studies show that witzh hazel can improve symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis like itching, redness and inflammation. However, due to its astingent properties, witch hazel can be be overdrying for your skin and scalp.
Let’s take a deep dive:
What is witch hazel?
Witch hazel is a flowering shrub that has been used ont the skin for centuries. The plant contain phytochemicals like tannins and favonoids which benefits the skin.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent. It also has antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a good natural remedy for all sorts of skin ailments.
Witch hazel water is produced by steaming and distilling the leaves, bark or twigs of the shrub. This clear, colorless liquid contains up to 15% ethanol.
Witch hazel can also be found in ointment, cream, gel or salve form.
Skin benefits of witch hazel
The bark and leaves of the witch hazel plant contain tannins and volatile oils, which give it its astringent properties. These substances can help to dry out the skin and reduce inflammation.
Witch hazel is especially beneficial for those with oily, inflamed or sensitive skin. It can be used to control excessive oiliness, reduce the chances of breakouts, and calm inflammation.
Witch hazel is often used in skincare products to soothe the skin. It contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds like gallic acid and tannins, as well as anti-oxidants that can help reduce inflammation.
Witch hazel has also been shown to suppress redness, and sooth irritated skin.
If you’ve been dealing with acne for awhile, chances are you’ve tried witch hazel with some effect. It acts as an astringent to help shrink pores, and may also prevent overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria.
A human study looked 1373 patients (the vast majority of which were women) who used witch hazel-based shampoo and found their scalp was less irritated.
A lab study found that witch hazel may also protect from harmful free radicals and prevent skin damage.
Is witch hazel an antifungal?
Witch hazel has antimicrobial properties and is an astringent. It also has weak antifungal activity against Malassezia but was less effecttive than other antifungal agents like ketoconazole and zinc pyrithione (Head & Shoulders).
Is witch hazel good for seborrheic dermatitis?
Even though witch hazel has virtually no antifungal properties, it has a multitude of other skin benefits that may improve seborrheic dermatitis.
I love the fact that witch hazel is anti-inflammatory and can suppress skin redness, important components of SD. As a bonus, witch hazel can even improve acne by helping to shrink pores and control acne-causing bacteria.
Unlike many products we use, witch hazel has pretty good research backing it up. Human, animal and lab studies have shown that witch hazel can improve the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis like itching, irritation, redness and inflammation. A lab study even showed that witch hazel can protect the skin barrier and prevent skin damage.
In short, a good product to add to your skincare regimen.
How to use witch hazel for seborrheic dermatitis?
Witch hazel can be used as a toner, shampoo, or spray for seborrheic dermatitis. It’s important to dilute witch hazel before use so you don’t dry your skin out too much. If you’re buying a store version of witch hazel, make sure the product doesn’t contain alcohol.
Using witch hazel on the face
Applying a compress or toner containing witch hazel to the skin may help to reduce symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis. It’s thought that the astringent effects of witch hazel help to remove excess oil and dead skin cells from the skin.
Using witch hazel on the scalp
Witch hazel can help to soothe an itchy scalp, reduce inflammation, and promote hair growth. It can be used alone or in combination with other ingredients such as apple cider vinegar or rosemary oil.
You can apply witch hazel on the scalp with a dropper, spray or saturated cotton pad. Some people use a witch hazel spray like dry shampoo in between washes to keep the scalp less greasy.
Use witch hazel in small amounts as it can be very harsh on the skin. If overused, it can cause drying of your scalp, inflammation and even flakiness.
If you don’t have the time to mix your own, you can buy products containing witch hazel from most pharmacies or online. Be sure to follow the directions on the product label.
Side effects of witch hazel
Witch hazel may leave the scalp too dry. This can lead to irritation and make seborrheic dermatitis worse. It may also cause contact dermatitis, resulting in redness, itching, and burning.
Those with dry skin may find that witch hazel causes irritation and flaking. Many people with sensitive skin have found that witch hazel can cause redness or stinging.
To wrap up
Witch hazel is a good astringent and anti-inflammatory agent. However, it can dry your skin and scalp out. Try it on a small area of your skin first and use sparingly, monitoring the condition of your skin and scalp regularly.