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Witch hazel, scientifically known as Hamamelis virginiana, is a plant native to North America. It grows as a large shrub or small tree and produces yellow-gold flowers with thread-like petals.

Traditionally, American Indians in the northeastern United States used witch hazel to relieve inflammatory diseases. They made an extract by boiling the stems in water.

Today witch hazel extract is widely available in stores. Often called just “witch hazel,” it can be made by boiling the stems, twigs, or bark.

Many people like to use witch hazel as a facial toner. Others use it to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with it sunburn.

As it turns out, there is some scientific evidence behind this method. Let’s look at how witch hazel works and how you can use this remedy.

Witch hazel contains natural compounds that can help treat sunburn. According to Research from 2013The active ingredients, called tannins, have an anti-inflammatory effect. Its main tannins are witch hazelitannins and proanthocyanidins.

Witch hazel bark is particularly rich in tannins. You’re making up for yourself 8 to 12 percent on the weight of the bark.

However, there are no recent studies examining how witch hazel specifically affects sunburn. Most of the relevant research is pretty old.

In one 2002 human studyResearchers found that a 10 percent witch hazel lotion reduced the redness from sunburn. ON 1998 study found similar results in people with sunburn.

According to other research, witch hazel can work in a number of ways. ON 2001 laboratory study found that proanthocyanidins increase skin cell growth and help reduce irritation. ON 1997 study discovered that witch hazelitannins and proanthocyanidins work by suppressing enzymes involved in inflammation.

More recent in-depth research is required. Still, the older research available could explain why many people find relief using witch hazel for sunburn.

To treat sunburn with witch hazel, you can use the extract or a product infused with witch hazel.

Always do a Patch test first. Although most people can use witch hazel without developing side effects, sunburn can make your skin more sensitive.

To do a patch test, apply a small amount of witch hazel to a quarter-size skin patch. Look for signs of irritation such as redness or itching for the next 24 hours. Stop using witch hazel if you develop side effects.

If you don’t have any problems, here are ways to use witch hazel for sunburn:

Cotton balls

One of the simplest techniques is to soak a cotton ball or pad in witch hazel. Then gently pat the cotton on your sunburn.

Be sure to use alcohol-free witch hazel. If it contains alcohol it can cause irritation.

Cold compress

For a soothing treatment, dampen a clean cloth with witch hazel and apply it to your sunburn.

You can even use witch hazel that has been chilled in the refrigerator.


For a travel-friendly option, add half a cup of witch hazel to a 4-ounce spray bottle. Spray it on your sunburn.

Add 10 drops to improve the healing properties Peppermint oil and a few drops Vitamin E oil.

Skin care products with witch hazel

You can also use products infused with witch hazel to treat sunburn. Examples include:

Some products are formulated for “After Sun Care”. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging.

Witch hazel and products containing witch hazel are easy to find. You can buy them at:

  • Super Market
  • Drugstores
  • Health markets
  • pharmacist

If possible, buy non-alcoholic organic witch hazel.

Shop for witch hazel online.

If you are sensitive to witch hazel or are looking for more options, give these a try natural sunburn remedies::

Cold water

Use instead of a cold compress with witch hazel cold water. This is a simple and inexpensive option that can help.

Cold milk

Another method is to use a cold compress cold milk.

Milk contains lactic acid, a compound that gently exfoliates the skin. It also contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants. These properties can help reduce dander and irritation.

Moisten a clean cloth with cold milk and then apply it to your skin. You can also put the cloth in a bowl of milk and chill in the refrigerator.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel is a popular home treatment for sunburn. It contains an anti-inflammatory compound called aloin. It’s also extremely moisturizing, making it great for dander and dryness.

You need fresh gel from one Aloe plant or bottled aloe vera gel from a store. When you buy the gel, choose one without benzocaine or lidocaine.

Apply the gel directly to your skin. You can also mix equal parts of aloe vera gel and witch hazel for a cooling spray.


Black teaLike witch hazel, it contains anti-inflammatory tannins.

To use it for sunburns, brew a cup or two of black tea. If you have fresh mint, add a few leaves to increase the calming effects of the tea. Let the tea cool, pour it on a towel and place it on your skin.

Colloidal oatmeal

Another option is to have a cool bath with colloidal oatmealor ground oats. You can buy colloidal oatmeal in the skin care aisle at drug stores and grocery stores.

Colloidal oatmeal reduces discomfort by moisturizing your skin. It is also rich in anti-inflammatory AntioxidantsThis makes it a great sunburn remedy.

Baking soda

ON Baking soda bath can gently exfoliate your skin and relieve dryness and flaking. It also reduces the itchiness caused by sunburn.

Add several tablespoons of baking soda to a cool bath. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes, then gently pat dry.

Sunburns usually heal without medical help. However, you should see a doctor if you:

A doctor will examine your skin for swelling, redness, and signs of infection.

You could prescribe the following medications to cure your sunburn:

Thanks to its high content of anti-inflammatory tannins, witch hazel can help soothe painful sunburn. You can use it to make a cool compress or spray. To improve the cooling effect, mix witch hazel with aloe vera gel or peppermint oil.

While your skin is healing, stay hydrated and avoid the sun. Moisturize the peeling skin with a moisturizing lotion or gel.

If your sunburn doesn’t improve within a few days, see a doctor. You should also seek medical help if you have severe swelling, fever, or signs of a skin infection.