Photo by Ryn Gargulinski

Witch hazel, a flowering shrub with a distinct smell, can be processed into a clear liquid you see sold on drug or health store shelves. Next time you see a bottle, buy it to use for a variety of purposes. You can substitute witch hazel for a variety of needs that you usually fill with rubbing alcohol, such as cleaning earrings or other jewelry. Some of the witch hazel liquids contain a small amount of alcohol, but overall will be much less harsh.

Cleanse your pores. Witch hazel works great as a skin astringent and is gentle enough to be used on your face. Dab a generous amount on a cotton ball or square and smooth it gently over your skin. Watch all the dirt and grime just whisk right off.

Disinfect a scrape or cut. Witch hazel can be a substitute for hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol when it comes to cleaning out a cut. Pour a liberal amount of witch hazel over the cut or sore and allow it to dry. Add a bandage and you’re set. You can also use witch hazel on bruises or skin that is blistered or cracked.

Soothe bug bites. Mosquito bites will itch no more with a hearty dab of witch hazel on them. Apply the witch hazel with a cotton ball, square or swab directly on the bite. It also works to soothe bites from fleas, flies and insect stings. It also works well on other itchy ailments like poison oak or ivy.

Calm down a sunburn. Gently applying a thin coat of witch hazel to sunburn will provide a cooling relief. Apply with a washcloth soaked in witch hazel, allowing it to soak into your skin for several minutes before removing.

Splash on after shaving. The gentle yet invigorating feel of witch hazel is perfect after shaving, be it a splash on your face or legs.


Do not drink the witch hazel you bought in the bottle at the drug store. You can drink witch hazel if you buy the herb dried and steep it into a tea. Witch hazel taken as a tea has been reported to help diarrhea or a sore throat.