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alcohol vs witch hazel

alcohol vs witch hazel

alcohol vs witch hazel

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alcohol vs witch hazel

Nowadays, you can find Witch hazel in its pure form at your local drugstore. It resembles a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Even some over-the-counter (OTC) creams and ointments contain witch hazel, such as those used for bug bites or hemorrhoids.

Furthermore, can you substitute witch hazel for rubbing alcohol?

Witch hazel, derived from flowering plants in the Hamamelidaceae family, is a great natural alternative to rubbing alcohol. It is an effective astringent, can prevent dehydration, and even reduce the swelling and irritation of inflamed skin.

One may also ask, what is similar to rubbing alcohol? Typically applied as a solvent, denatured alcohol is suitable for numerous application needs. Many forms contain approximately 10 percent methanol as the additive, rather than other common alternatives such as isopropyl alcohol, denatonium, methyl isobutyl ketone, and acetone.

In this way, why is witch hazel mixed with alcohol?

Witch Hazel for Oily Skin Witch hazel can remove oil from the skin, but that’s due to the denatured alcohol (ethanol) it contains. As we mentioned above, most of the witch hazel preparations contain between 14% and 15% alcohol, an amount that can significantly irritate skin.

Is rubbing alcohol the same as hydrogen peroxide?

MYTH: Rubbing alcohol and/or hydrogen peroxide will keep the wound clean. Hydrogen peroxide is no better. Some studies show that hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol can kill normal tissue and cells that are trying to heal a wound.

alcohol vs witch hazel
alcohol vs witch hazel

Can you drink witch hazel?

Witch hazel is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when small doses are taken by mouth. In some people, witch hazel might cause stomach upset when taken by mouth. Large doses might cause liver problems. Witch hazel contains a cancer-causing chemical (safrole), but in amounts that are too small to be of concern.


Alcohol was once a frequently used ingredient in some toners and acne-fighting facial products, but not so much anymore. That’s because alcohol does kill bacteria on the skin, but it also does a lot of harm by stripping away healthy oils and that keep your natural moisture locked in. If you have an especially bad pimple, you can reduce its size by dabbing it with a bit of rubbing alcohol, but take care not to overdo it. And finally, don’t forget—no matter what cleansing products you use, always finish up your daily skincare routine with a moisturizer that will hydrate your skin and restore its natural barriers.

What is witch hazel?

The witch hazel plant, Latin name Hammamelis virginiana, is a flowering shrub that grows wild throughout a good portion of North America and Asia. The leaves, bark, and twigs are processed to create a clear liquid that’s sold commercially as witch hazel. The plant extract itself is also used in topical ointments, although the toner-like liquid form is far more common for skincare and home remedies.

Like many plant-derived substances, witch hazel is a source of several antioxidants, many of which benefit skin; however, one main antioxidant is a group of chemicals known as tannins. Applied to skin, tannins have a constricting and drying effect. They compress proteins in skin, creating an invisible “film” that can, to a minor degree, temporarily de-grease skin and minimize the look of enlarged pores. While that’s good for the short term, the long term is another story, and it doesn’t have a happy ending!The tannins in witch hazel are sensitizing. Depending on the part of the witch hazel plant used to make it, witch hazel naturally contains between 8% and 12% tannins.

alcohol vs witch hazel
alcohol vs witch hazel

witch hazel

In addition to the tannins, almost all types of witch hazel are distilled using denatured alcohol (ethanol), with the extract containing about 14% to 15% alcohol. Although the distillation process destroys some of the tannins (which ironically is a good thing, given that the tannins are irritants), applying alcohol to your skin is always a bad thing because it generates free-radical damage and impairs the skin’s surface.

By the way, while a 14% to 15% alcohol content might seem low, research has shown that even lower amounts of alcohol can damage skin.

What about witch hazel products that claim to be alcohol free? That can be achieved through water-steam distillation of the recently cut and partially dried, dormant twig and bark portion of the plant. The downside is that you don’t get a complete spectrum of beneficial compounds like you do from alcohol-distilled versions of witch hazel. Simply put, the effort to minimize the irritancy results in compromising on the efficacy.

Another concern related to long-term use of witch hazel is the volatile oil it naturally contains. This oil is a source of the potent fragrant sensitizer eugenol, which is definitely not good for skin. Taking the best care of your skin requires using ingredients that contain only the good stuff, and none of the bad stuff.

benefits of witch hazel

When applied to the skin, witch hazel-based toners have the potential to ease irritation, injury, and inflammation. Some of the most common uses include acne, inflammatory conditions, and sunburn.


While certain types of acne (such as cysts and pustules) are inflammatory, witch hazel may possible benefit noninflammatory acne (blackheads and whiteheads) too.

The idea behind witch hazel for acne treatment is that it can act as an astringent by drying out your acne blemishes, much like other OTC treatments.

Part of this is related to the active tanninsTrusted Source in witch hazel. These plant-based compounds also have antioxidant effects.

Inflammatory skin conditions

There’s also the potential that witch hazel could possibly benefit other types of inflammatory skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema. The thought here is that if the underlying inflammation is treated, then there may be fewer reactions in the form of tell-tale rashes.

Witch hazel has also been proven safe when applied to the scalp.

Witch hazel may also help under-eye bags. However, it should not be applied directly in the eyes, or else you could risk burns.

alcohol vs witch hazel
alcohol vs witch hazel

Cleanse Oily Skin

One of the best uses for witch hazel is as a natural facial cleanser, especially when it comes to controlling excess oil. “Witch hazel is an astringent with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties so it can effectively be used as a cleanser,” explains Engelman. Dab witch hazel onto a cotton round and cleanse skin once or twice daily. You can also use a cleanser formulated with witch hazel, like Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Cleanser ($25). This vegan face cleanser is made with a blend of witch hazel, castile soap, and organic plant oils like sunflower and jojoba.


Traditionally, witch hazel has been used as a treatment method for sunburns. (However, contrary to some information touted online, witch hazel is not a suitable sunscreen.)

You can also apply witch hazel to other types of minor skin burns, such as those from chemicals. This may even be a safe method for razor burns (irritation you might get after shaving).

To use witch hazel for skin burns, soak either a soft cloth or a sturdy paper towel with the solution. Then gently press onto the burn. Don’t rub it in, as this can cause further irritation.

For scalp burnsTrusted Source, witch hazel has been proven helpful for both men and women. Such burns may be related to chemicals or UV-ray exposure. Witch hazel may be applied directly to your scalp in the shower, or you can mix a small amount with your regular shampoo.

Clean Your Window Blinds

Window blinds deliver function and style to your home, but they can be tricky to clean. Depending on the location of the window,

your blinds may be subject to anything from cooking grease splatters to heavy moisture or dust. Enter witch hazel. It’s grease-cutting properties make it ideal for removing any residue lingering on the slats of your blinds,

but it won’t damage them or dry them out.

To clean your blinds with witch hazel:

  • Combine 1 cup of witch hazel, 1 cup of water, and a drop of dish soap in an empty spray bottle and shake well.

  • Start at the top of the blinds and spray in a side-to-side sweeping motion, working your way down.

  • Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe down blinds, again starting from the top down and wiping side to side.

Alternatively, you can spritz the witch hazel solution directly onto the microfiber cloth and wipe down blinds, refreshing the cloth with additional sprays of solution as you go.

alcohol vs witch hazel
alcohol vs witch hazel

Alcohol and Witch Hazel Have a Rich History

Shaving guides as early as 1905 have recommended that men apply either a bay rum (alcohol-based) aftershave or

witch hazel once the shave is complete.  Witch hazel was cited that it is “soothing to the face and allays the burning.”

The earliest origins of bay rum, the alcohol-based aftershave, dates back to 1838 in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  The original formula was made from a mix of bay leaves and rum, simply known as bay rum.

Witch hazel, native to the eastern half of the United States,

was initially used by the Native Americans to treat minor insect bites, cuts, inflammation, and other ailments (source).  The Puritans later learned of this plant and its medicinal properties from the Native Americans.

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