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The 6 best witch hazel products for every need, according to dermatologists

The skin-soothing plant extract that ain’t no scrub (except when it is)

The 6 best witch hazel products for every need, according to dermatologists

Just like baggy jeans, chokers and “The Rachel” haircut — old trends have a tendency to come back in style, and that applies to beauty and health products as much as ‘90s fashion throwbacks. If you assumed the recent surge of witch hazel in skincare products flooding both the beauty counters and TikTok is just another nostalgic revival of old trends (witch hazel was a staple in your grandma's cosmetic collection, after all), you’d actually be wrong.

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While witch hazel products might be trending, this antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient derived from the Hamamelis virginiana shrub isn’t really a trend — it’s an FDA-approved, scientifically-supported topical skin care powerhouse. That said, not all witch hazel products are created equal, and not all products are appropriate for every condition or need.

If you’ve been trying to decide which item to grab to help tame your itchy or irritated skin, we’ve done the research for you. First, we talked to dermatologists and aestheticians to learn more about the ingredient’s benefits and potential side effects. Then, we researched dozens of the most popular witch hazel products to come up with our top picks. Here's what you need to know about this natural extract and which witch hazel products can give your irritated skin some well-deserved TLC.

Witch hazel, quite simply, is a plant extract taken from a shrubby, yellowish tree that’s native to North America and Asia. “The plant’s bark and leaves, [which are] distilled into a liquid, have been used for centuries to treat skin concerns related to inflammation and irritation,” explains Valerie Aparovich, certified cosmetologist-aesthetician, practicing biochemist and Science Team Lead at OnSkin. “Witch hazel helps ease inflammatory response, reduce swelling, relieve sensitivity and alleviate irritation. These benefits are mainly attributed to two [antioxidant] compounds — tannins and flavonoids.” These antioxidants work to combat free radicals at the skin’s surface, helping to prevent skin damage.

Witch hazel also offers an astringent effect, which means it helps tighten the skin. “Due to its astringent properties, it can minimize the appearance of pores and reduce excess oil on the skin,” says Dr. Anna Chacon, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in private practice in Miami, Florida.

Witch hazel is typically found in topical skin care products. These products are used to:

Witch hazel is considered a safe and effective ingredient for topical skin care applications for most people. However, some people may be allergic to witch hazel. Chacon says if you experience redness, itching or a rash after using the ingredient, it’s best to avoid it in the future.

One other cautionary note: Even if you’re not allergic to witch hazel, it’s possible to overuse these products or to experience a sensitivity. “Overuse can dry out the skin, as it does remove oils. Those with particularly dry or sensitive skin should use witch hazel sparingly,” says Chacon.

Aparovich says if you feel increased dryness or tightness after using a witch hazel product, that’s the telltale sign to leave it out of your skin care routine, or to find an alternative with a lower concentration of the ingredient. “Taking a local patch test on a small area of your skin is crucial before fully introducing a new product to your skincare routine to ensure no side effects occur,” she says.

Witch hazel is available in a wide range of topical dermatological products. These include everything from cleansers, toners, creams, masks and scrubs, to shampoos, after-sun lotions, pads, sprays, ointments and scalp treatments. Even oral witch hazel supplements are available, if you’re so inclined.

That said, not all products are intended for all concerns or conditions. “Witch hazel pads can be helpful during pregnancy for treating hemorrhoids. Witch hazel toners can be beneficial for those dealing with acne, as they can help reduce inflammation and excess oil. Witch hazel wipes can be used for quick cleansing or refreshing the skin when on the go,” says Chacon. “The key is to choose a product that suits your specific needs and skin type.”

Also, be sure to check the ingredients before making a purchase. “When selecting a high-quality witch hazel product, it’s important to look for a product that is 100% pure witch hazel,” says Chacon. “Some products may contain alcohol, which can dry out the skin. Also, verify that the product is free from added fragrances or other potential irritants, especially if you have sensitive skin.”

Aparovich also points out you can pick products that include ingredients known to complement witch hazel’s soothing properties. She suggests other plant-derived extracts such as Calendula Officinalis extract, Lamium Album extract, Echinacea Angustifolia extract, Aloe Barbadenis leaf extract and Camellia Sinensis leaf extract.

As for those oral witch hazel supplements? It may be best to avoid a purchase or to consult a doctor or healthcare provider before trying them. “Their efficacy and safety are not as well-studied as topical witch hazel products,” Chacon warns.

This Amazon Choice winner is basically the OG on the witch hazel lists. Making its debut in 1847, it today flaunts 11,000+ Amazon ratings (93% are 4 or 5 stars) for how well it calms redness, clears the skin, and tightens pores. It’s stocked with almost 200% more tannins than similar toners, which a recent study noted are key power players in fighting inflammation.

Pros
  • Skin-balancing
  • Highest level of tannins
  • Time-tested
Cons
  • Unscented if that’s not your thing
$15 at Amazon
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$10 at Vitacost

There's nothing quite like a Kardashian to sell out a beauty product with a mere mention. As soon as Khloe Kardashian raved about this toner to Vogue, it flew off stores shelves and caught even the Quinn’s brand by surprise.

“I really think what sold me was the packaging to be honest,” The Kardashians star said. “But I love the way it smells. I love how light it is. I tone especially my T-zone because I am so, so oily.”

Because it’s not distilled, the alcohol-free formula is especially gentle for those with sensitive skin types. It’s even a good option for extra sensitive skin issues, like razor burn and sunburn, the brand says.

Pros
  • Great for all skin types
  • Soft rose-petal scent
Cons
  • Not offered in travel-size
$15 at Amazon

You just can’t fight with facts: These witch hazel-soaked pads are the #1 bestseller on Amazon for hemorrhoid pain relief. Why? Because they’re proven to soothe the itching, throbbing and burning of hemorrhoids — the inflamed vaginal and anorectal tissue that an estimated 40% of pregnant women experience

Many a mom has tucked Tucks into her overnight hospital bag. As one five-star Amazon reviewer put it: “Literally a Godsend for postpartum. Perfect balance of cooling and relief and doesn’t stick. I put these in ALL my baby shower gifts now!”

Pros
  • Hospital-grade
  • Hypoallergenic and dye-free
  • Travel-ready
Cons
  • Not flushable; must throw away
  • Some say the tub leaks if not tightly closed
$8 at Amazon
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$8 at Walmart$12 at CVS Pharmacy

Bioré might make you think of pore-clearing nose strips (hello ‘90s throwback!), but lately they’re on the witch hazel bandwagon. Along with skin-clearing salicylic acid, this cleanser enlists witch hazel’s astringent properties to break down dirt and residue from the skin while tightening up pores.

Interestingly, witch hazel is typically celebrated for its anti-inflammation powers, but its acne-fighting role turns heads too. In 2022, a first-of-its-kind study reported, “This is the first demonstration of the potential anti-inflammatory mechanisms [of the] twig and bark extract in the context of acne infection.” Translation: it has the potential to target acne bacteria, specifically.

Pros
  • Removes 99% of dirt and oil
  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy-to-use hand pump
Cons
  • Severe acne requires something stronger
$7 at Amazon
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$7 at Walmart$7 at Target

As anyone with Sahara Desert-dry skin can attest, sometimes you’d do anything to get rid of the itching that so often accompanies dry skin. Accepted by the National Eczema Association, this witch hazel spray can be used several times a day to soothe irritated, flaky skin conditions (think atopic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis). Our take? The before and after photos speak for themselves. Perhaps best of all, it works its magic without the greasiness of ointments and lotions.

“I have psoriasis, and nighttime and winter itching is horrible,” said one reviewer on the Eczema Honey website. “This spray instantly stops the itch and moistened my skin. Redness almost completely gone by morning after one use! Astounded!” Several Amazon reviewers suggest refrigerating it for an extra-cooling effect.

Pros
  • Lightweight and non-greasy
  • Stocked with natural humectants
  • Certified cruelty-free
Cons
  • Some dislike the subtle lavender scent
$13 at Eczema Honey

This witch hazel-infused hair remedy won Amazon’s Choice for scalp treatments, and honestly, we’re not surprised. As an astringent, witch hazel can help repair and restore a dry, irritated scalp — a chief complaint in the dermatology and hair care world. In one recent study, researchers noted that patients often used anti-dandruff products, only to realize they caused further irritation. The researchers found the flavonoids and tannins present in witch hazel are highly effective and offer a more sensitive solution.

Pros
  • Great for all hair textures
  • Sulfate and paraben-free
  • Lively, minty scent
Cons
  • Some users don't like the tingly sensation
$12 at Amazon
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$11 at CVS Pharmacy$12 at Walgreens

Witch hazel is a well-tolerated topical skin care ingredient, so it’s one that’s worth trying. With antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, witch hazel-containing products can help with a range of concerns and conditions, including red or inflamed skin, acne, sunburn, scalp irritation or even hemorrhoids. That said, some people are sensitive or allergic to witch hazel, so it’s a good idea to do a patch skin test on a small area before putting the product fully to use. If you’re not sure which product is right for you, talk to your dermatologist about recommendations.

Data is limited regarding ingesting witch hazel, but there’s some evidence to support its use as a gut-supportive supplement. Make sure you talk to your doctor about whether witch hazel supplements might be appropriate for your health concerns.

Most importantly, don’t consume witch hazel products intended for topical use. Not only are these products not FDA-approved for this purpose, but they may contain other ingredients that aren’t safe for consumption.

Absolutely — that’s why the hospital-approved Tucks medicated pads made our list. “Tucks pads contain witch hazel-glycerin compresses that can be applied in pregnancy for symptomatic relief,” states The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

While there’s certainly a market for witch hazel products for kids (witch hazel baby wipes for diaper rash, anyone?), there isn’t much safety data to support its use. Witch hazel is possibly safe for children when used topically, but it’s best to check with your child’s pediatrician. If a child ingests witch hazel, contact Poison Control immediately.

As with children, using witch hazel on your pets is considered generally safe when applied topically. Just make sure you’re using products that are intended to be used on pets, rather than people, like Burt’s Bees’ doggie ear cleaner. That said, there’s not much hard data to support its use.