Witch hazel is a remarkable substance with oh so many uses, many of which happen to fit in perfectly with our beauty routines. From fighting acne and reducing the pain of a sunburn to making dark circles disappear, witch hazel is an absolute must-have for your medicine cabinet—and considering it’s crazy affordable and easy to find, we’d be surprised if you don’t have it already.
1. Witch hazel works to constrict the blood vessels and reduce inflammation, which makes it one of the few methods of actually healing and lessening the appearance of bruises. Saturate a cotton ball or cloth with witch hazel and apply it to skin like a toner a few times daily, and you should notice a much shorter healing time.
2. That old trope about Preparation H making a great under-eye cream is categorically false, but there is a bit of scientific truth behind it: Witch hazel is often a key ingredient in hemorrhoid creams, so take away all the other ingredients and apply straight-up witch hazel to undereye bags and dark circles for a brightening, tightening effect.
3. A swipe of witch hazel is one of our favorite natural toners, as its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties work to keep the skin clean and clear without overdrying or causing irritation. It’s particularly helpful for acne-prone skin, thanks to witch hazel’s ability to calm inflammation and act as a natural astringent—it’ll clear up blemishes and prevent new ones from forming.
4. Ingrown hairs aren’t just an annoying beauty problem—they can also be super painful, which is the worst kind of beauty problem, indeed. If you’re prone to ingrowns after shaving or waxing, witch hazel works both as an anti-inflammatory and as a blood vessel constrictor to nip any bleeding in the bud. It’ll also prevent infection by curbing the growth of bacteria.
5. The physical effects of sunburn—swelling, itching, pain, redness—are caused by inflammation, and witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory. You see where we’re going with this. Witch hazel can’t cure your UV overexposure, but it will help to temporarily soothe skin and mitigate the burning feeling. Use a wash cloth to apply it to affected areas, or use a cotton ball for smaller spots.
6. Cooling witch hazel curbs itching and burning sensations, which makes it especially helpful for treating bug bites or even poison ivy. Just dab a bit of the liquid on bites for instant relief, thanks to the astringent properties. Bonus: witch hazel actually repels mosquitoes, so not only will it relieve you of your current bites, but it’ll prevent future ones, too.
7. Minor wounds, cuts, burns, and scrapes are no match for witch hazel, which protects against infection without the drying, skin-damaging effects of alcohol-based astringents. It eases pain, curbs bleeding, and speeds up the healing process, so it’s pretty much all you need to treat that curling iron burn that never seems to go away.
Read more from Daily Makeover: The 10 Best Natural Toners