Witch Hazel has long been used as a medicine cabinet staple to treat minor cuts, scrapes, burns, inflammation, and bug bites.
Witch hazel is particularly appealing to modern sensibilities because it is completely natural and plant-based.
We’re all discovering witch hazel also has a lot of benefits for hair and scalp. In this article, we are going to look at what witch hazel is, the benefits of witch hazel for hair and scalp, and how to use it.
- 1 What is Witch Hazel?
- 2 Witch Hazel For Hair
- 3 Who Should Not Use Witch Hazel?
- 4 How Do You Use Witch Hazel On Hair?
- 5 Take Away
What is Witch Hazel?
If you are unfamiliar with exactly what witch hazel is, it’s a flowering plant that is native to North America and Japan.
Witch hazel is most commonly used in its liquid form.
Witch hazel that you buy in the bottle is prepared from a steam-distillation process using leaves, bark, or twigs of the witch hazel plant.
A lot of these witch hazel products often include other ingredients as well, like alcohol or other natural preservatives.
Here are a few of the most common Witch Hazel brands.
Keep in mind these witch hazel products will last a while, but eventually will expire.
Witch Hazel For Hair
Witch Hazel has lots of benefits for the scalp and hair that are relatively unknown.
1. Treats Oily Hair Between Washes
We’ve all heard that washing your hair every day isn’t good for your hair. Now if you have particularly oily hair, witch hazel is a lifesaver. Applying a spritz of witch hazel to the hair between washes acts like a dry shampoo, preventing it from getting too oily on those non-wash days.
Witch Hazel is astringent.
This means it tightens pores and dries out the oil that your scalp produces. Not only is it great for keeping your hair from getting too oily between washes, but it’s also a great scalp refresher if you wear braids.
See our switch hazel spritz recipe below.
2. Calms Scalp Irritation
One of the reasons witch hazel is so good at treating minor skin conditions is because it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, so it’s ideal for treating irritated and inflamed scalp and calming the skin.
3. Helps Scalp Conditions
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that affects your scalp and causes it to produce too much sebum. Sebum is the oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands.
It coats, moisturizes, and protects your skin. But of course, if your scalp is producing too much sebum that can become a problem and cause not only scalp issues, but make your hair look greasy.
Witch hazel works to soothe inflammation and regulate sebum levels.
4. Helps Eliminate Dandruff (in some cases)
Dandruff is a condition that causes scalp skin to dry and flake off. Sometimes dandruff can be due to just really dry skin, but dandruff is often related to scalp infection caused by yeast (fungal) organisms.
That’s to say, things like seborrheic dermatitis can cause dandruff.
The yeast feeds off of sebum. So getting sebum overproduction under control is important for managing some types of dandruff.
Keep reading to find out who should not be using witch hazel. Especially if you fall into the dandruff category, as it can, in some cases, cause more harm than good.
5. Scalp Deep Cleaner
An oily scalp is much more prone to problems. If left untreated, it can lead to problems like inflammation, itchiness, redness, and dandruff.
Using witch hazel can help to break down the oil and product build-up to deep clean your scalp.
6. Unproven Benefits
There are a few benefits of witch hazel that are being touted that don’t have much scientific research to back up the claims.
We advise you to take these at face value.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of there not having been enough studies conducted to prove these particular benefits, or maybe it’s a case of witch hazel not actually offering these particular benefits. The jury is still out on these ones.
There’s not much research on the benefits of witch hazel for hair growth.
However, a lot of people have claimed that regularly using witch hazel-based products in their hair care routine has led to a noticeable improvement in hair growth.
The argument is that witch hazel helps to reduce, prevent and treat a number of scalp issues, such as product and environmental build-up, excessive oiliness, and inflammation.
And since a healthy scalp equals healthier, longer, and stronger hair, it is quite possible that witch hazel could be a contributing factor to hair growth over a period of time.
There are those who claim that witch hazel helps with hair loss. The premise is that it works to increase blood circulation in the scalp, delivering vital nutrients to the hair follicles, which can stimulate healthy growth.
It also reduces inflammation, which can be a factor that affects hair loss.
Who Should Not Use Witch Hazel?
Just like not every cosmetic or skin cream is right for your skin type, witch hazel is also not right for every skin type. Your scalp, after all, is skin.
Those with a dry and sensitive scalp should definitely avoid using witch hazel. Because witch hazel’s main benefit is controlling excessive oiliness and rebalancing sebum production, that’s not your issue. Using witch hazel will only increase dryness and cause sensitivity and inflammation.
Can I Leave Witch Hazel In My Hair Overnight?
Witch hazel is extremely potent and you should NOT leave it on your scalp for more than 10 minutes.
If left for more time, it can cause over-drying of your scalp, inflammation and even flakiness.
How Do You Use Witch Hazel On Hair?
First, and most importantly, choose a witch hazel product that is alcohol-free. A lot of witch hazel products you can buy contain alcohol as a preservative.
Alcohol is extremely drying.
If you are using it on hair for scalp issues, alcohol can make those issues you are trying to treat, even worse.
How you use witch hazel will depend on why you are using it.
If you want to use it as an in-between-wash hair refresher, you can create a spritz, by combining the following:
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 tablespoon witch hazel
- 2 drops of essential oil.
Mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Just be sure to shake well before using.
For scalp conditions, you can add a few drops of witch hazel to your shampoo. Let sit for a few minutes, but no longer than 10.
For severe dandruff, you can apply witch hazel to a cotton pad and gently rub the scalp to lift flakes before shampooing.
And if you are not into DIY hair/scalp treatments, there are products out there that take the guesswork out of it.
If you have an oily scalp that is exhibiting flaking—witch hazel may be just what you need. But those with a very dry or sensitive scalp should avoid it.