Witch Hazel for Clearing Acne – The Ultimate Guide

Witch Hazel for Acne

If you suffer from acne, then you know how important it is to find a treatment which is effective in getting rid of spots and pimples without causing any unwanted side effects. Unfortunately, acne is a complex skin condition which isn’t always easy to treat. However, you can use herbal remedies such as witch hazel for acne and in this article I am going to give you all the information on how to use witch hazel for skin and also why you should put witch hazel on your face.

What is Witch Hazel?

Witch hazel is extracted from the bark and leaves of the Hamamelis Virginiana. This plant, which is native to North America, has been used for centuries as a remedy for many skin problems. Because of its amazing healing properties, witch hazel extract is also found in many skincare products that are on the market today.

Witch hazel is also an effective remedy to help reduce the infection and inflammation that is associated with acne. Let’s examine why witch hazel is a great product, not only for acne but for your skin in general, and how to use witch hazel for acne by preparing your own witch hazel toners.

What is Acne?

Acne forms when too much sebum (the oil that the skin produces) clogs up the skin’s pores and this combines with dead skin cells which cause bacteria to grow. The bacteria then cause infection and inflammation in the pores, which leads to the formation of blackheads, pimples, and papules. If the infection becomes very serious, nodules and cysts can develop.

The reasons why a person develops acne can be caused by various factors, some of which are:

  • Hormones
  • Genetics
  • Digestive problems
  • Stress

Because acne spots form when bacteria develop, it is important to find topical treatments which kill off bacteria and reduce inflammation. One way to reduce the excess oil secretions is to apply astringents to the skin, and witch hazel is a natural astringent.

What Are Astringents and Why They Are Useful For Acne

When astringents are applied to the skin they contract large pores and help to dry up the secretion of excess oil. This helps to unclog the pores of bacteria and dead skin that have built up.1 In fact, many commercial acne treatments also contain astringents to do just that.

There are many natural astringents, but not all of them are good for acne because they can be quite harsh on the skin. However, the advantage of using witch hazel for acne is that it is a natural mild astringent.

Why Witch Hazel Is Good For Clearing Acne

One of the main reasons why witch hazel is good for clearing acne is because it contains a high amount of tannins. Tannins are known for their astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Although there have been no specific studies carried out on to the specific effect that witch hazel has on treating acne, there is enough research on its properties to show that it is good for getting rid of acne.


The astringent properties of witch hazel are well-known and well documented. For example, the book, Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects says that witch hazel contains a considerable amount of tannins making it a useful astringent and that it can be used safely to soothe inflammation of the skin and such it can be beneficial for clearing acne.2

Witch hazel bark and leaves contain up to 10% tannin which makes the extract a very effective astringent. Because of this, witch hazel is used topically to alleviate inflammation caused by acne.3


The anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel can also help reduce skin inflammation, fight acne, and remove whiteheads. The journal Advances in Dermatology and Allergology  showed that various witch hazel bark and leaf extracts reduced inflammation of the skin.4 Some other studies have also shown that a compress with witch hazel water can also help treat skin irritations.


In a study into the antioxidant activity of 21 different plant extracts, it was shown that witch hazel had high antioxidant activity at low doses.5

These properties of witch hazel make it a very effective topical treatment for getting rid of acne and it does this without irritating the skin. The astringent properties help cleanse the skin of dead skin cells and reduce the build of bacteria which can help to reduce pimples and acne. This also allows more oxygen to enter the pores, thus helping the healing process. The anti-inflammatory properties also help to reduce swelling.

Apart from clinical evidence into the astringent and anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel, there is much anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of witch hazel for eliminating acne. For example, many acne suffers who use it say that it is very effective in helping to clear their skin and reduce the number of pimples they have.

Many acne suffers who use witch hazel for clearing acne also add a few drops of tea tree oil, which is one of the best essential oils for treating acne, Due to its powerful antibacterial activities.

Other Benefits of Witch Hazel for Face and Skin

The amazing properties of witch hazel mean that it is great as a general all-around skin toner and face cleanser. You can apply witch hazel topically to any kind of skin irritation, blemish or bite. You will notice that the witch hazel will quickly help to reduce any itchiness and redness. In my e-book The Herbal Remedies Guide, I’ve already mentioned witch hazel as a remedy for several skin conditions.

After-sun treatment

Witch hazel can also be used as a great after-sun treatment for adults and children alike. For example, a study carried out in 2002 showed that a lotion with 10% witch hazel in it was effective in reducing the redness and burning sensation of a skin that was sun burnt.6

You can also find other natural ingredients to treat sun burn or minor burns in my article about the most effective homemade minor burn treatments.

Treat bacterial infections

Witch hazel also has antiseptic properties which can also be used to treat bacterial infections on the skin. The most common of these is the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus which can cause atopic dermatitis (Eczema). A study into the effect witch hazel has on bacteria on the skin showed that it was an effective topical treatment for many dermatological conditions.7

Witch Hazel as a Moisturizer

Another great use for witch hazel is as a skin moisturizer.

Very often commercially produced astringents dry out your skin, however, witch hazel doesn’t do that and this is a great reason to use witch hazel for skin.

If you use it straight after your shower then it will help to lock moisture in. It is also effective when used on children who have skin conditions like diaper rash or inflammation. The European Journal of Pediatrics published a study where they showed that witch hazel extract has the same effect as dexpanthenol. 8 Dexpanthenol is a popular drug used to treat or prevent dry skin, itchy skin, and minor skin irritations.

Witch hazel is anti-aging

Witch hazel also has anti-aging properties and can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, witch hazel can help rid the skin of free radicals. A study in into the active-oxygen scavenging activity of plant extracts showed that witch hazel has strong active-oxygen scavenging activity and has potential as an anti-aging and anti-wrinkle application.9

You can also use these essential oils to combat wrinkles naturally, as well as eating these foods against wrinkles.

How to Use Witch Hazel for Getting Rid of Acne

The best way to use witch hazel for removing acne is either as a skin toner or a skin mask.

To use witch hazel as a skin toner, you can either apply it with a cotton pad to the affected area up to 3 times a day, or you can keep it in a spray bottle and spray directly onto your skin.

Witch Hazel Toner Recipes

Here are some great witch hazel toner recipes that you can use to keep your skin and face looking great and reduce the appearance of spots, blemishes, and acne. When buying witch hazel, make sure you buy alcohol free witch hazel.

Basic witch hazel toner for acne and for beautiful skin

For each 1 oz witch hazel you will need to add:
3 drops tea tree essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil

Add the essential oils to the witch hazel and mix. Apply to the skin with a cotton ball as needed or use a spray bottle to spray the affected skin areas (you don’t need to rinse it off). Repeat daily to prevent acne, whiteheads, and blackheads.

Tea tree essential oil is antimicrobial and antibacterial.10 Lavender essential oil also is a potent antibacterial agent.11

Witch hazel and aloe vera toner for face and skin

For this, you will need the following:

  • 6 tbsp. witch hazel
  • 2 tbsp. aloe vera gel
  • 5-10 drop of tea tree essential oil or lavender oil (or you could use a mixture of both)

Mix the ingredients in a container or spray bottle. Mist the acne-prone skin area or apply it using a cotton ball. Repeat daily to cure acne and other skin blemishes.

In addition to the tea tree and lavender essential oils, aloe vera is a wonderful product to soothe the skin and it also has proven anti-inflammatory properties.12

Read more about aloe vera in my article about the amazing benefits and uses of aloe vera for skin.

Anti-acne witch hazel and lemon juice toner

For this, you will need the following:

  • 3 oz glass spray bottle
  • Witch hazel
  • Lemon juice

Fill the bottle ¾ full with witch hazel and top up with lemon juice until it’s full. Mix the ingredients together, apply the witch hazel toner with a cotton ball to your face and skin. For some people, the lemon juice can sting a little. You can try reducing the amount of lemon juice, or use a different toner if this one irritates your skin.

Witch hazel, green tea, and baking soda toner to treat acne

For this, you will need the following:

  • Glass jar with a screw lid
  • 2 tbsp. witch hazel
  • 1 cup of green tea
  • Juice of one lemon
  • A few drops of vitamin E oil
  • A few drops of tea tree essential oil
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda

Make the green tea by placing one tea bag in a cup of boiling water and leave it for 5 minutes and remove. Leave the tea to cool. Then pour the tea into a clean glass jar and mix well with the other ingredients. Apply with a cotton pad to your acne spots 2 times a day.

Baking soda helps to calm the skin and you can read more about it in my article on how to use baking soda for gorgeous face and skin.

Witch hazel and apple cider vinegar (ACV) toner

For this, you will need the following:

  • Glass jar with a screw lid
  • Witch hazel
  • Raw organic unprocessed apple cider vinegar
  • Lavender essential oil

Fill the jar with 2/3 cup of witch hazel and 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar. Add a few drops of lavender oil and mix well. Apply with a cotton ball to your acne-prone skin 2 or 3 times a day.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has amazing properties which help to remove excess oils from your skin and also restore the skin’s pH balance. ACV is also one of the best natural remedies to get rid of acne. You can read more about it in my article on why you should wash your face with apple cider vinegar.

Witch Hazel Side Effects

According to WebMD, witch hazel is likely safe for most adults when applied directly to the skin. In some people, however, it might cause minor skin irritation. This is why it’s always a good idea to do a skin patch test first by applying a small amount to a patch of skin to make sure you don’t develop any skin reaction.

Read my other related articles:
1. How to Get Rid of Pimples: Top 12 Natural Ways
2. The Best Home Remedies to Get Rid of Whiteheads and Blackheads
3. The Best Essential Oils for Acne


Healthy and Natural World